2011 Forecast: The Convergence of Mobile Media, Social Media & Healthy Behavior

Now that the decade is coming to a close we’re inspired by trends we see emerging in 2011 that may affect the nation’s health. Each December trendwatching.com publishes its list of trends for the upcoming year. One of these is the increase of health-related lifestyle products and technology. With such products as mobile devices and applications, social media websites as well as consumer goods aimed at heath and wellness, we think there is a compelling reason to believe that key factors are aligning, which promise to have a significant, lasting impact on peoples’ health.

Here are some of the trendwatching.com stats:

  • Good health is important for consumers. Currently, 73% of consumers consider being fit and feeling good about themselves is important.
  • By 2015, 500 million people will use mobile apps to get fit and healthy, as monitoring technologies become more mobile.
  • Medical social networks will gain popularity as people share, compare and discuss their health issues and aspirations.

These trends suggest that people are beginning to believe that health issues are not just about treatment and post-illness states. Amid all the hubbub of health care reform, insurance premium increases, obesity rates and the diabetes epidemic, there’s a growing number of consumers taking proactive measures towards improving their health. People are beginning to take responsibility for their wellness, to prevent disease, maintain mobility and reduce health care costs.

And not just individuals are feeling responsible for their health. Increasingly, companies are developing innovative ways to combine mobile applications and social media websites into incentive programs that to help people become and remain active and healthy.

Dennis Skigen is the CMO for Fitbug, a company that offers a combination social website, virtual walking leagues and accelerometer/pedometer device that helps individuals plan and track physical activity and fitness goals. He says companies are realizing the value of workplace wellness in the form of increased productivity and cost savings in many areas. He explains that consumers want to be healthy, and that they will be more successful when they set realistic and achievable goals. The Fitbug device tracks your steps for walking or running; the website lets users self-report more than 70 daily activity as well. The system has been valuable for people who want a more accurate, comprehensive way to track their activity levels. “We’re trying to put a conscience in your pocket,” Skigen says. The company has been successful in helping individuals remain committed to their health goals at a rate of 50%, compared with an 85-90% dropout rate at gyms and health clubs. “People aren’t waiting for the government to impose legislation. They’re ready to take action and Fitbug is proving an effective way to keep them engaged. Companies ranging in size up to multinationals, with operations in scores of countries, are deploying such programs for their employees,” explains Skigen.

In the coming year, not only do we expect to see a surge of interest in improving health by using mobile devices to track progress, but also, we expect people to become highly involved with online communities for encouragement and accountability.

Sweat Equity Network brings together mobile technology, social media and rewards programs in an ecosystem of community and corporate sponsored initiatives, to encourage healthier consumer behaviors on a massive scale. Mary Paskell, Business Development Executive for Sweat Equity Network, explains that social media has now been put to work to really support healthy lifestyles. Sweat Equity Network provides a social media platform where individuals can create aspirational goals for their wellness, compete with peers and achieve social status under a unified reward and recognition system for all healthy behaviors in their lives. Tying the social media into a daily utility for managing healthy behaviors makes it particularly effective. She anticipates that in 2011, as individuals take increasing responsibility for their health, being part of a social community where there is recognition and reward will make wellness social, personal and fun. Mobile devices create another important access point for participation, increasing the daily utility of social media for leading health lifestyles. “Mobility will also help make the platform viral and increase community participation. It’s a perfect storm of technology, health trends and human behavior that has us expecting a huge impact in 2011 and beyond,” concludes Paskell.

We’re constantly assessing ways to help our clients to be more influential, more creative, more profitable and stronger marketers. As we continue to develop marketing strategies and campaigns for health care-related brands, we’ll be closely tracking the growing trend of mobile and social health-improvement tools for consumers.

For 2011, we expect to see mobile and social technologies encourage, engage and sustain healthy behavior, ultimately leading to positive and measurable physiological results.