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A democratisation of the consumer health landscape

Matt Coy, Head of WPP’s BCW Life, explains what this democratisation of consumer health means for clients

Data has democratised the consumer health landscape. Consumers are more health-aware than ever, thanks to wearable technology which has given us a wealth of data on our wellbeing – from the number of steps we have taken, to sleep, to sexual health.

This avalanche of data, and the resulting insights, has prompted mass personalisation of products and services in the consumer health industry. Tech start-ups are pursuing a category that was once solely the domain of big pharma. As a result, consumers expect and demand more from consumer health providers than ever before. 

“It’s a time of huge disruption, as once long held wisdom is being re-examined,” comments Coy. “The industry is being turned on its head. For companies that are agile, the opportunity is huge.” 

BCW Life brings together the best of BCW’s capabilities in integrated healthcare communications and consumer brand marketing, and it sits in BCW’s UK healthcare practice. It seeks to “move people to help them make smarter, healthier decisions every day” and help clients “to not only navigate the changing landscape but to help them play a leading role in shaping the future of personal, preventative and public health”. 

The team, led by Coy, includes behavioural change scientists, digital and influencer specialists, brand communication and healthcare experts. 

The way people get healthcare information and make related decisions is changing. “It is becoming more sophisticated with greater availability of and easier access to information,” says Coy. “Coupling data insights with BCW’s unique understanding of human values and their link to behaviour change can drive lasting commercial success. Consumer health brands can get closer to their audiences like never before, using data to understand people better, unlock opportunities and change behaviours.” 

Regulation prompts heightened responsibility 

Despite all this change, the industry remains highly regulated. “There is a plethora of small, fast-growing companies operating in this space. These could be tech startups, for example,” says Coy. “They are likely to have a brilliant product, they know people want to buy it, they know it works, but they're not 100% sure about the regulations for marketing it. We help guide them and encourage them not to push too hard.” 

He continues: “Conversely, we work with established market leaders to explain the extent to which they can be bold and be creative whilst operating within the guidelines. They are often surprised that there is more freedom for creativity than expected.”

And the regulations constantly evolve. “It’s our job to be on top of any changes in regulation. What might have been fine six months ago might not be fine in six months’ time. We help clients navigate that landscape as well,” he says. 

Mapping the white space 

Being able to tap into the social consciousness is an important part of what BCW Life does. “White space analysis is key to the early stages of planning any campaign,” says Coy. “It’s an incredibly crowded space. We work with clients to find out where their opportunity really is in terms of their audiences’ unmet needs.” 

Rather just be another brand jostling for position in a busy landscape, BCW Life uses proprietary tools to identify where and how brands can stand out with a message and positioning that truly cuts through. 

Coy says: “Clients find the combination of our data and analytics expertise underpinned by our understanding of behaviour change science and human values very compelling. Hard research will always pay off.” 

Matt Coy

BCW Life

published on

18 July 2023



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