Richard Cope
Richard is a Senior Trends Consultant, bringing the latest consumer trends to Mintel clients through bespoke presentations and represents Mintel at global conferences.

Mintel’s latest Beauty & Personal Care webinar Health 2025 looks at how demographic changes and disruptive technologies will shape what consumers will want from pharmaceutical companies in the next decade. Here, Mintel’s Senior Trends Consultant Richard Cope looks at the six things the perfect pharmaceutical company will need do to engage consumers:

1.Recognise, diagnose and serve the customer as an individual.

Digital technology is creating an individualistic mindset, especially amongst Millennials who have been raised on hardware and apps (57% of US parents use tablets to teach their children and 58% use the same devices for playtime) which act as platforms to express their opinion and image to the world. The youthful mindset centered on individuality translates into 38% of US 18-24 year old luxury goods buyers saying that they define luxury goods as those that offer the choice to customise, while 23% of Brazilian Millennials say that brands that offer customised solutions influence their purchasing decisions. This group are increasingly living at home with their parents and will act as the in house tech guys and tech girls, raising parental confidence in using everything from wearables to click and collect shopping.

We also expect them to make parents think more about their individuality and how they too should demand customisation from companies. The health sector might want to take some inspiration from some of the innovations we’re seeing in the beauty sector, such as L’Oreal Paris’s Intelligent Colour Experience vending machine that detects the colours in a consumer’s outfit, then sells and dispenses products to match, the Brazilian Esmalte machine that can customise nail polish in 100,000 different shades and Geneu’s tailoring of anti-ageing serums to an individual’s DNA.

2. Reassure with a bricks and mortar presence one-to-one consultations

Our trend ‘Experience Is All’ documents an upsurge in experiential store formats. One way to reassure consumers – and create in store theatre in the process – is to get them to trial products and services in store, in front of their consumer peers. We have seen this in the example of Adidas demonstrating its Energy Boost trainers with a treadmill machine that calculates energy burned. In beauty, we’ve seen Sephora seek to drive in store footfall with 3D augmented reality mirrors that allow people to virtually try on make-up and satisfy that Millennial need for individuality and personalisation we mentioned earlier.

Online misdiagnosis is rife, so consumers are seeking the reassurance of expert advice. In pharmaceuticals, no less than 76% of US drug store shoppers say they like being able to have their medical and drug questions answered by the in-store pharmacist and this has already inspired a host of US health retailers – from Walgreens to Wegmans – to extend their expertise and employ in store dieticians to drive footfall and boost loyalty. Meanwhile in the UK, we’ve seen Superdrug follow this with “wellbeing” concept stores that dispense with the formalities of dispensary counters and add in store clinics and treatment rooms.

Elsewhere, we see how personalised advice can be dispensed online, in the form of Tesco’s one-to-one Google Plus beauty service, China’s We Doctor Group app, which offers online diagnosis and hospital referrals, and the Icelandic Tourist Bureau’s use of ‘Human Search Engines’ in its ‘Ask Gudmundur’ information service. As a result, OTC companies can create new partnerships with pharmacists to offer advice and offer secure, one-to-one, personalised consultations and advice – online, in store or by visiting the customer’s home.

3. Be plugged in to the smart home

Homes are getting smarter, with the new range of smart home ecosystems, from Apple’s Homekit, to Google’s Works with Nest and Samsung’s Smart Home all placing great emphasis on voice control technology – something that would work especially well for elderly consumers with limited mobility or physical capability. Smart shopping innovations like Amazon’s Echo and Dash concepts (which allows the user to order with voice commands or single touches of branded buttons) or Pernod Ricard’s ‘Liquid Library’ smart containers that re-order and replenish themselves when stocks are low, all speak to the retail needs of an ageing population seeking to maintain independence Concepts like the Autonomous Desk that voices reminders like a normal PA, or the Davek Alert Umbrella that sends the owner a text if it gets left behind also follow this trend. The same thinking is behind Chinese start-up Jeejen’s new smartphone for seniors that is stored in a daily medicine case that sends reminders if a dose has been missed. The ‘smart home’ – from thermostats, to in-house CCTV – can help seniors maintain independence in their – or their family’s – home, whilst robots, apps and drones might all help with in-home consultations, reminders and delivery.

4. Offer lifestyle data analysis

At present, the wearables market is still emerging with just 21 million devices sold in 2014, but there are encouraging signs with between 31 and 40% of UK consumers interested in buying health tracking devices from step counters to full on smart watches. Wearables will encourage consumers to cross analyse exercise with nutritional data. Some 13% of UK consumers use a mobile or tablet app where they can store daily calorie intake and 34% are interested in doing so – and appetite will be converted in to action as people stop retiring and strive to stay energetic and competitive in the workplace. Some 30% of US consumers are interested in using their smartphone or tablet to detect or diagnose illness and the possibilities here are rapidly opening up. For instance, the Israel Institute of Technology has developed a ‘Sniffphone’ breathalyser that attaches to a smartphone to detect diseases like cancer in breath particles. Before that we’ll see a role for health, pharmaceutical and grocery companies in analysing and making sense of our growing mountains of data. Today, some 36% of UK shoppers are already interested in having a nutritional review of their basket’s content.

5. Pioneer in-store and at-home 3D printed pharaceuticals

It’s fitting that 3D print studios like Imakr are making their first commercial forays in to fabrication by using body metric scanning to print 3D figurines of our likenesses, because this neatly symbolises how the technology is about affordably creating products that reflect our individual characteristics and meet our individual needs. Food companies like Hershey and Barilla are alive to the possibilities of 3D printed food in that it may allow consumers to create or customise everything from pasta shapes to nutritional content. In beauty, we’ve already seen the Mink printer offer at home customised cosmetics and the Moda device conduct a 3D scan of the user’s face in order to apply make-up in just 30 seconds. However, it’s in surgical procedures where we’ve seen the greatest use of 3D printing, with an estimated 5.5 million people having already been treated with 3D printed body parts or implants. We’re seeing these approaches feted for their ability to help bone to grow on 3D printed hip joints, for their ability to cheaply create fully-functioning prosthetic arms, replacement ear and nose cartilage, and even bladders and blood vessels that eliminate the need to wait for a donor. In pharmaceuticals we first saw the 3d printed drugs explored by MIT and Novartis in 2012 as a way to eliminate distribution costs and allow for the downloading of files in remote areas and in the same year the UK’s University of Nottingham succeeded in printing bilayered pills that could release different drugs at varying speeds to meet a patient’s individual needs. This has since been taken on by the UK’s University of Central Lancashire’s 3D printing system that promises to customise dosages to the nearest microgram, causing the University’s Dr Mohamed Albed Alhnan to dream of a 3D print units in patients homes, something he predicts will be used by pharmaceutical firms and hospitals within five years and by the public within a decade.

6. Recognise the practical and CSR sides of ageing

Seniors will account for 13% of the population on OECD countries by 2035, making them the most valued demographic for a host of sectors, but especially in health. Looking longer term we’ll see the proportion of over 80s more than double to account for 10% of the OECD population come 2050. Products for seniors need to be easy to consume and digest, as exemplified by Japanese company Nutri Co’s pureed and powdered food creations. Products need to be easy to open – something demanded by 73% of UK over 65s, yet just such a claim accounts for only 0.39% of packaging claims in global product launches in 2015. What seniors with limited mobility need is innovations like spoons with anti-hand tremor technology to help them maintain independence as well as the kind of social contact highlighted in Age UK’s ‘No Friends’ campaign and provided by schemes as diverse as agency TBWA’s initiative to adopt local nursing home residents in Indonesia, the Good Gym’s delivery of items to isolated or immobile people in the UK and Chefs for Seniors, which send professional cooks in to people’s homes in Wisconsin USA. This ageing of the population means that some seniors with limited mobility still want home independence, some will need easy-access OTC stores and OTC home delivery. Products will need to be easy to open and consume. Pharmaceutical companies can make elderly charities a core CSR value and explore extensions in to at-home services, exercise, digital services, charitable and accommodation concepts.

Richard Cope, Senior Trends Consultant at Mintel, works as a Trends Analyst, Consultant, Presenter and Facilitator on bespoke client projects. As a globally recognised leading trends commentator, he is regularly called on by media worldwide to provide insight and analysis into consumer trends.