“The definition of healthcare is changing. Earlier it was ‘I have no pain, disease or disability. Hence, I am healthy," said Anika Agarwal, Director and Head-Marketing, Digital and Direct Sales, Max Bupa Health Insurance. “Today, a lot of us do not have any pain, disease or disability, but can I call myself healthy? The meaning of health includes both mental and physical well-being."

The seventh episode of HT Brand Studio Live, Season 2, had industry leaders like Agarwal talking about the rise of the health-conscious consumer.

With fake information being dissipated at alarming rates, consumers are often unaware of their own health conditions. The best example is that of the wellness requirements of women, who constitute the biggest consumer group but are the most neglected of the lot.

“In the digital age, women can access healthcare through just a smartphone," said Manuj Garg, Co-founder, MyUpchar. “However, in rural households, one smartphone is usually shared by the entire family. Once the man of the house is back home, that is when there’s a spike in use. So, for healthcare, there’s not an issue with willingness to access, but an issue with the means to access."

Technology has complicated things further with the role of the general physician being suddenly called into question.

“Once, his competency was unquestionable. But these days, how much ever qualified a doctor might be, he/she has to justify every decision taken for a patient, whether it’s for diagnosis or for treatment," said Sanjeev Chopra, Senior Vice President and Head, McCann Health.

At this stage, dissipating helpful information is where brands can make a mark. “Healthcare brands need to be part of the healthcare conversation and demonstrate thought leadership, thereby ensuring that the content is medically correct. This step is imperative to continuously engage with the new-age consumer," said Mohan Menon, VP-Head of Marketing & Digital, Max Healthcare.

Menon continued: ‘The ultimate conflict is the lack of transparency and trust. It’s important to ask if the recommendation been made without an ulterior motive and at the right cost."

Trust is non-negotiable, feels Vishal Gondal, Founder & CEO, GOQii.

He said: “People are not really buying into a brand; they are buying into the trust. Governments all around the world are taking initiatives in spending billions of dollars, not on infrastructure, but on the consumers themselves, thereby motivating them to take preventive steps."

This is where specific consumer insights can play a huge role. Brands need to constantly keep on top of consumer motivation.

“Behaviour change happens with incentivisation," said Gondal. “When it comes to healthcare and fitness, people are equipped with smartphones, continuously looking at others around them get active, wanting to be active themselves. What’s stopping them?"

An answer to this question will probably define the success of a wellness brand in the coming years.

HT Brand Studio Live is a series that gets the brains behind India’s top brands to decode marketing innovations and more. It is anchored by Rameet Arora, Chief Operating Officer, HT Digital Streams, and co-hosted by HT Brand Studio and DMAasia.

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