Why Personalized Well-Being Is Gaining Momentum
woman looking into mirror
Explore the landscape of personalized well-being solutions and see some of the key considerations that are shaping this promising sector.

Personalized well-being solutions — science-based, individualized alternatives to the current mass one-size-fits-all approach — are proliferating across the nutrition, personal care and fitness/weight management categories. But so far, none of them have reached blockbuster status. Likely reasons include:

  • Data limitations such as the high cost of diagnostics, a lack of data and privacy standards, and problems with data quality that hinder an organization’s ability to optimize artificial intelligence (AI) and create solutions with demonstrable efficacy. 

  • Friction in the consumer experience stemming from solutions that aren’t specific enough, tests that are too long and cumbersome, a lack of evidence-based efficacy, and limited behavioral support. 

  • Business model challenges like high acquisition costs, lack of differentiation and moderate consumer awareness. 

What can brands do to overcome these barriers to drive scale and pave the way to mass adoption? Here are three potential strategies (see Figure 1). 

Data consortia

A data consortium is a centralized resource where organizations can pool and access data sets in a cost-effective way. These consortia are typically government or public-private initiatives in critical sectors like healthcare, transportation and telecommunications.

A biobank or other wellness-oriented data consortium would make large databases of personal data available for research or product development purposes. The more organizations participate, the more data there would be to improve AI capabilities and yield business insights. 

Data consortia must align on certain standards. These include interoperability so that different entities can access and analyze the data, privacy in line with the desires of the individual who owns the data, and security to safeguard sensitive data. An external organization could play a role in setting out a code of conduct and enforcing accountability. 

Although data consortia can have a variety of governance, membership and access models, a public-private partnership may accelerate progress. UK Biobank is a biomedical database that researchers use to advance medical discoveries. Since 2005, it has collected genetic and health information from half a million UK participants. Data from UK Biobank has informed over 5,000 scientific publications, new targeted prevention and screening strategies in the UK’s National Health Service, COVID-19 research, and more. 

In 2018, the National Institutes of Health launched All of Us, a research program to build a diverse health database in collaboration with 1 million people across the U.S. The database is to inform thousands of studies on a variety of important health questions, ranging from precision medicine to broader well-being. The program aims to speed up health discoveries and enable new kinds of individualized healthcare that reflect the nation’s diversity — including groups that were underrepresented in past research. 

Third-party subsidies

Personalized well-being solutions can be expensive, and consumers mostly pay for them directly. Changing the funding model could drive broader accessibility and greater adoption. From the payer’s perspective, personalized well-being solutions can lower overall costs by helping covered patients manage their health conditions better. 

In the U.S., the Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS) insurance group offers access to Blue365, which has year-round discounts on gym memberships, nutrition providers and wearable devices. Member organization Blue Shield of California has taken this concept a step further with Wellvolution, a platform that provides access to a network of clinically proven lifestyle apps. Meanwhile, Oakland, California-based Kaiser Permanente provides its members with access to personalized online programs that help them make healthier choices in areas like exercise, nutrition and sleep.

What about state-funded healthcare systems? Under Germany’s Digital Healthcare Act, digital therapeutics are now available to the 73 million Germans who are covered under statutory health insurance. Governments could replicate this innovative approach for personalized well-being solutions. 

For employers, well-being solutions may boost productivity and employee resilience. They can also help attract and retain talent: A recent U.S.-based survey found that mental health benefits are a top priority among respondents weighing new job opportunities. Noom for Work, a digital health offering for employer-based plans, helps members build healthy mental and physical habits and has had high employee adoption. Headspace for Work, a corporate wellness program of science-backed meditation and mindfulness solutions, offers a range of meditations and exercises and has over 70 million members. 

Improved value propositions

Brands can improve the consumer value proposition of their personalized well-being solutions via targeted use cases, feedback loops and community elements. 

Targeted use cases. Consumer awareness of personalized well-being solutions still has room to rise. One way to close the gap is by targeting specific use cases like diabetes (e.g., January AI), weight loss (Calibrate) or pregnancy (Baby2Body). A solution focused on a defined set of higher-need consumers can be more cost-effective than a general one. Target consumers are also more likely to stick around, driving higher lifetime value and profitability. 

Community elements. Consumers have a better chance of improvement when they’re part of a community. Noom and DnaNudge, for instance, match users with online support groups for those with similar health aims or conditions. Florida’s Brain Health Initiative works with local stakeholders — think schools, religious institutions and military installations — to create and engage entire communities in improving their lifestyle. 

Breaking down barriers to scale

Brands have a significant opportunity to drive both innovation and growth in the personalized well-being space. By participating in a data consortium, developing partnership strategies and enhancing the consumer value proposition, they can break down the barriers to scaling their business. Each requires extensive research, analysis, planning and organization alignment. A critical first step is identifying the internal and/or external resources with the right skill sets in each of these distinct and complex areas. 

For more information, please contact strategy@lek.com

Questions about our latest thinking?

Related Insights