What Do Trends In Luxury Travel And Healthcare Have In Common? A Lot!

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The ways in which Affluents drive innovation downward are important to understand for brands across the spectrum. Healthcare and Travel are two of the most sensitive–and apparent–sectors in which to see this at work.

I recently worked on the branding and launch of a new luxury product in the travel industry. If you’ve worked on big health care accounts, or seen the recent ads for hospitals lately, you may have an inkling of the insights I’ve gathered. After working on staff at an HMO, a medical case management firm, and a community hospital, I’ve seen the ways in which Affluents drive new product development. Now that I’ve seen it in the travel sector, I can share these insights:

Hospitals have long been touting their new hotel-like suites (for birthing, rehab and short-procedures) in an effort to woo high net worth patients and their families.

In the travel sector, the old rules of touring have been shattered and the sky is, literally, the limit (at least until Mr. Branson perfects his space tourism product).

As a part of the pre-launch research, we conducting numerous interviews with high net worth travelers from across the nation. I’ve become familiar with the commonalities of target audiences who demand “bespoke travel” in one adventure and “bespoke healthcare” in another type of experience.

Consumers at all economic levels are exerting more control over their self-care decisions (although not always wisely), as well as their self-directed travel planning. The results are doors closing on some longstanding brands, while others are subsumed, in both the healthcare and travel sectors. For the remaining providers in the market still relying on stale brands, unwieldy data and paper-based CRM systems, there’s a real possibility they won’t see next year. Consumers are demanding on new arrangements and offerings in a number of industries. This is true of moneyed Millennials and aging Boomers.

But! Now is NOT necessarily the time to throw more technology and metrics at the market to reach these consumers (of either travel or healthcare services). Now is the time to examine the gulf between what target audiences are doing (with their browsers as well as their luggage), and what providers are offering. There is still a great disconnect and, yet, marketing leaders who cling to techniques and strategies of late 20th century are seeming to flail away with old-style messages on channels that these consumers really don’t seem to use (based on recent research).

One part of the problem is the expense–both real and perceived–of buying and implementing CRM systems. The other part may well be difficulty in innovating products and evolving organizational culture to support them.

There is a sea change occurring in the 55-75 year old cohorts. These are the people with money, who enjoy travel and want to preserve their lifestyle long into their 80s. These are the people who control and influence big dollar decisions about extremely profitable purchases of healthcare, travel, vehicles and real estate. It’s not enough to complete psycho-graphs and personas about each sliver of your target audience. It’s essential to reconsider what your product is, and how its benefit resonates with actual clients.

 

Here’s the take away:

Increasing sales is easier by ensuring that product and brand messages are frequently checked–and recalibrated–to your targets’ current aspirations, personal preferences and self-perceived needs. Frequently checking your product features against emerging market factors (including competitive assessments) is crucial to growing your brand. Your market and your competitors are two of the cheapest sources of insights for driving innovation.

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