Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Nearly three-quarters of prosumers want more health monitoring devices

Steve Rogerson
June 18, 2015
Seven out of ten professional consumers around the world want digital devices that monitor every aspect of their physical health, according to a report from marketing and communications firm Havas Worldwide.
"As technology changes every aspect of our lives, it's given people around the world a greater awareness of their own well-being, and a new arsenal of tools to track and improve their health," said Andrew Benett, global CEO of New York-based Havas. "At the same time, technology has opened a rich opportunity for brands in the health, beauty and fitness spaces to truly become partners to consumers on their journey to wellness. There is enormous potential for those brands able to help consumers make smart decisions about caring for and maximising the value of their most important asset: themselves."
The research found that nearly three-quarters of US consumers say the world would be a happier place if people weren't so obsessed with physical beauty. And there's a significant backlash to the Photoshopping of celebrities – 79 per cent say it's harming society – and the obsession with slimness and eternal youth. On the other hand, millennials were more likely than any other age group to equate obesity with laziness (41 per cent), suggesting that the trend might be moving towards less tolerance overall.
The report also examined consumer attitudes towards new technologies, including both present-day health wearables and the advances, from body enhancement to human genetic modification, that lie in the near future. It found that 45 per cent of US professional consumers (so-called prosumers) favour digital devices that monitor every aspect of their physical health. Across the globe, that number rises to 70 per cent, with nearly half already using at least one device, indicating growing acceptance for such wearables and apps.
Privacy remains a serious concern, however, More than four in ten global respondents said they were concerned about the loss of privacy that new health-monitoring technologies would bring. People also remain very uncomfortable with the intrusion of science in one area in particular – human reproduction. More than half of global respondents, for example, said a pill that let a couple choose a baby's physical characteristics would be bad for society, and 53 per cent said the same of choosing the baby's sex.
The report also identified country- and culture-specific perspectives and categorised the 28 respondent markets into three major typologies:

  • Pleasure seekers: For these hedonists – typified by consumers in Brazil, France and Spain – the body is a source of pleasure, through food, sex or simply self-celebration. Pleasure seekers place a high value on physical attractiveness – such as the 40 per cent of Brazilians who said cosmetic surgery was a smart choice for people who want to be more attractive.
  • Holistic enthusiasts:Sleeping well, eating healthfully, getting a daily dose of fresh air and sunshine, and respecting the body's natural rhythms represent the optimum path to health for holistics. Holistic enthusiasts are most likely to be found in China, Germany or India, where 79 per cent say that both men and women who age naturally are more attractive than those who undergo cosmetic surgery.
  • Functionalists: Regarding their bodies as machines – to be fuelled and tinkered with – functionalists strive to reach peak fitness. Functionalists are success driven, but not necessarily grounded in reality. Markets scoring highest on functionalism – including the USA, UK and Australia – also have some of the world's highest obesity rates.