World Health Day: Meet the New Digital Health Consumer

As of 2017, 45% of the global population uses the internet, and it is projected that 76% will have access by 2030. With more connectivity, a new type of connected consumer is rising: the digital health consumer.

Who is the digital health consumer?

The common path for a digital health consumer starts with increasing interest and access to health education and advice via digital devices. From this, some consumers begin to track health and fitness through mobile apps, and use apps to fill in prescription orders for pick-up (or delivery) rather than doing so in person, among other activities. During this process, the digital health consumer chooses to purchase consumer health products online (especially vitamins and dietary supplements). As a result, this consumer increasingly expects consumer health firms to understand her/his health needs quickly and demands personalised customer service based on the data they already provide.

diagram of the traits that go about bein a digital health consumer.

Source: Euromonitor International

Educated consumers are most likely to monitor health

Consumers with higher education, particularly university graduates and beyond, are leading the way in terms of using mobile and digital devices for health research and monitoring. These consumers are likely to have a higher income and therefore have the money for a modern smartphone with internet access. Moreover, this segment has the time to be more conscious about their health, and access more health education because their basic needs have been met.

Bar graph of comparing completed educational degree and the categories of: actively monitor what I eat to manage weight, use app to track health/fitness at least weekly, and closely read nutrition labels on food and beverages.

Weight management is the most common health monitoring behaviour, regardless of education level, and over the past several years more consumers have turned to health and fitness apps, whether on a smartphone or separate wearable device, to aid them in their quest to lose weight and improve wellness.

Which countries will see fastest growth in digital health consumers?

In order to identify where the digital health consumer is projected to demand online consumer health products at the fastest pace, we are leveraging both Euromonitor International’s proprietary Digital Consumer Index and the internet retailing sales forecasts for consumer health.

While the US, China and Japan lead online consumer health value sales in 2017, when intersecting the online consumer health forecast with the Digital Consumer Index forecast score, South Korea and the UK become great potential targets for future online expansion, due to the fact that they both have an exceptional Digital Consumer Index forecast score (96 out of 100), and strong online consumer health forecasts of 3% and 9% CAGRs, respectively, over 2016-2021.

Bubble graph of healthy consumer markets.

Source: Euromonitor International

Firms are expected to know the digital health consumer’s needs

With digital health consumers buying more consumer health products online, becoming more informed, taking ownership of their health with digital health tools, and adopting new ways to research consumer health products and services online (especially via their smartphones), this new consumer is becoming more open to the idea of sharing data and personal preferences, which in turn is having two effects:

  1. It feeds consumer health companies’ understanding to better customise their positioning and messaging to consumers, thereby improving ROI;
  2. Consumers expect firms to “get them”, considering all the health information they already share online.

Picture of digital health consumer expectations.

Source: Euromonitor International

It is not just about going to the retail store anymore. It is about consumer health companies having the ability to show up in mobile searches before the consumer even goes to the store (if they go at all), staying relevant once the consumer hits the store (or e-commerce platform), and engaging after the purchase, while being attractive enough, timely, flawless and able to fulfil their health promises.