As consumers grow more interested in tracking their eating habits, daily steps and everything in between, the health care space has forged a large presence at the International Consumer Electronics Show, which took place Jan. 6-9 in Las Vegas. According to the 2014 Connected Health Study, conducted by San Jose, Calif.-based medical device manufacturer A&D Medical, 56% of Americans want to track their health with connected devices. At the end of 2014, the global market for wearable medical devices clocked in at $2.8 billion in revenue, according to Hamilton, N.Y.-based marketing analytics company IndustryArc. The firm predicts that the market will grow 17% annually, and will reach $9 billion by 2020. The industry’s rapid growth has marketers at this year’s CES looking for ways to stand out amid an increasingly crowded market, experts say.
For Erlangen, Germany-based hearing aid manufacturer Sivantos Group, formerly Siemens Hearing Instruments, CES was an opportunity to change consumer perception about hearing aids. The typical buying process for a hearing aid takes seven years, in part because consumers resist buying something that makes them “feel old,” says Debra Ludgate, Sivantos’ director of marketing communications. “We’re trying to change that impression and have the press help us do that,” she says.
Ludgate and her team decided to focus their show efforts on attracting earned media. The brand promoted the Siemens Binax, its “smart” hearing aid, by hosting a dedicated space at the pre-show event, CES Unveiled. The smaller venue made it easier for the product to stand out. “We wanted our hearing aids to be the star of the show because we know that when someone puts on these hearing aids—whether you’re hearing impaired or not—the listening experience is so phenomenal you almost can’t believe your ears. It was really all about a product demonstration.” Since CES, the brand’s website has seen a 40% increase in traffic, Ludgate says.
Other wearable-device brands focused on repositioning their offerings in a consumer-friendly format. Waltham, Mass.-based NeuroMetrix chose to market its Quell device, which claims to relieve pain by delivering electronic stimulation to the wearer’s nervous system, at the show. Quell is the first consumer-oriented product for the medical device company, says Alyssa Fenoglio, director of marketing at NeuroMetrix. “We acknowledged early on that this was a new world for us.”
Before the show, NeuroMetrix put together a team of marketers who were experienced in consumer-focused messaging. The team was tasked with delivering complex medical information in a way that consumers would understand and engage with. “One of the things we heard consistently from visitors and press was that we completely stood out in the wearable category because we offer a true clinical benefit,” Fenoglio says.
The team at Shelton, Conn.-based wellness technology company FitLinxx launched its marketing efforts well before the show. The team developed a product video that detailed the benefits of its AmpStrip athletic-tracking device, and then launched a campaign on crowdfunding site Indiegogo in an effort to raise funds and generate pre-show buzz. Because the company’s past product marketing efforts have been focused on care providers and the medical community, the team consulted with branding advisors to help strike the right tone for consumers. As a result of the team’s efforts, AmpStrip was named a 2015 Best of CES winner by tech site Engadget, and at the show, CES named it a 2015 Best of Innovation honoree for outstanding design and engineering in consumer tech products.
While launching the funding campaign before CES was a risky move, it helped the team develop the rest of the campaign efforts, says Steven Schwartz, director of digital marketing at FitLinxx. “It essentially let us get our sea legs, and figure out what we needed to adjust and learn before we got to the show floor.”
This article was originally published in the March 2015 issue of the Marketing Health Services
Author Bio: Julie Davis is a staff writer for the AMA’s magazines and e-newsletters. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.