Ideating in a prescriptive environment

It’s Internet week in NYC. Always falling the 1st week in June I try to make the most of perusing through all the topics & trends, speakers, panels, and networking events to narrow down to what I’m most focused on learning and who I’m most focused on meeting and having conversations with in person; sometimes it’s nice to give twitter a break.

A friend asked me an interesting question last night regarding my professional focus on health, wellness and pharmaceuticals. He observed my passion and creative interests within the technology, social and startup fields and wondered why I chose to work in such a regulated environment vs. something more “exciting” and creative related to “real” brands within the consumer sector. He asked about the type of information I gathered at these week-long geek out events and what I was able to apply to my industry- what was the relevancy if most of the focus was 90% consumer based?

He made a few analogies relating to the challenges of a triathalete; hurdles and multiple skill sets needs to finish a race--- if that was my motivation? Spot on yes, but in addition, the term “real brands” stuck with me.

It got me to thinking a lot this morning about my professional choices and interests. I do work on “real brands” with real needs. In fact, 100% of the world might suffer WITHOUT the brands I work on---as opposed to those that develop 1-off social initiative contests on Facebook for Vitamin Water which time out after the campaign is finished and really don’t have a "lasting" benefit to the consumer. (note- I have been,  and continue to be enamored with this brilliant case study surrounding crowdsourcing for brand lift/awareness and use it constantly to explain best practices surrounding building social brand experiences).

All marketing and communication is based on strategic constructs to drive and build brand loyalty, after all, we are in the business of selling things. Like all consumer products, the brands I work on always have the same strategic constructs and intentions of delivering differentiated, unique benefits to the target audience. Not always just based on features, it goes beyond the efficacy of a product and includes support, services and financial access which equates to a larger value proposition of WELLNESS. I love seeing how those strategies pull through into innovative and relevant tactical successes. It works for me. That is 1 of many ethical and socially responsible satisfactional drivers for me.

What do I get out of attending internet week and how is it relevant to the strategic ties to health and wellness?

We are all consumers. We all manage our health- it just may not be at the forefront of our thinking when conversing about social communication and emerging digital innovation. Understanding and staying abreast of consumer behavior and adoption related to the ever-evolving tech and social landscapes, mobile advancements, APIs, aggregate data manifestation and analyzation makes me better at strategizing for better health outcomes. And not all “internet/digital” related conferences and events are all consumer based, using 2011 SXSW all-day health track as an example. When we look at niche market opportunities for business sectors, health is the largest. Health and wellness is not a trend, it’s a mainstay in all our lives 24/7/365.

With the advent of emerging communication mediums and digital delivery vehicles the need for communicating unique brand offerings for health and wellness has become even more important to our society. We are moving past the polypharmacy age and into technology being a companion to therapeutic benefits. More than 50% of the US’s blockbuster brands will experience patent expiry in the next few years and heathcare reform may change the way drugs are advertised, prescribed and covered by payors.

Health and wellness has changed to include all things beyond pills and injections, it includes existing digital health management tools such as Health Vault, investment in diagnostic biomarkers from Assure RX, start up companies like 23 and Me focused on predictive DNA testing and incubators such as Rock Health funding emerging technologies and software that are changing the way we manage our health.

I’m motivated by the shifting paradigm of creative ideation & innovation in health and wellness. Perhaps I do enjoy the challenge of a regulated environment; perhaps I think regulated sectors makes us MORE creative in our approach to problem solving. We have to work harder and we have to fight to keep creative integrity through all that we ideate to NOT be “prescriptive” for lack of a better word.