Wellness-aware technology is not just a charitable deed—it can be a source of opportunity, innovation, and competitive advantage. Companies can use this approach to:
Increase brand loyalty—Research has shown that consumers’ positive perceptions of the product help create enduring relationships with brands. Aligning the core values of the product with those of the user shows consumers you are socially responsible and you care about them.
Improve user retention—Your consumers should not feel bad about continuous usage of the product. A user told me in an interview that she felt guilty using Facebook during exam period and watching too much Netflix. You can maintain the user base by giving users a positive feeling after the session, not just during it.
Attract millennial consumers and retain employees—US millennials are prioritizing well-being so much that they spend one quarter of their disposable income on it. They are attracted to brands and companies that stand for something bigger than a profit margin, and many are willing to forgo higher salaries if it means finding a deeper sense of fulfillment in their work or purchasing behavior.
Create additional revenue streams—Helping consumers live healthier lives reduces healthcare costs. The ability to micro-monitor behaviors and accumulate healthcare data will allow for the development of new predictive models that support greater well-being. The US spent $3.207 trillion in healthcare in 2015. The money you help insurance companies save could provide an additional revenue stream. New business models and joint ventures can be created between your company, public health agencies and insurance companies.
Avoid regulation—Industries which haven’t protected their customers’ long-term best interests are now all heavily regulated: gambling, alcohol, and tobacco, to name a few. This regulatory attention is now turning to the technology sector. EU regulators have punished Google for suppressing competition, and Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in April 2018 to address Facebook’s privacy policies and the related Cambridge Analytica fiasco that ensnared the data of 87 million users. If you are worried too much regulation reduces profits, building goodwill can help avoid it.
Give back to the community—Technology companies know more about consumers than consumers know about technology companies. There is misguided trust between consumers who are sharing their personal information and companies who are collecting those data. Instead of solely taking advantage of this power imbalance for profit, companies should give back to the community that provided them the opportunity to succeed.