CRN conference highlights how technology shifts consumer behaviors

From healthcare searches to social media feedback loops, it's a whole new buying game in today's supplements market. Education at the Council for Responsible Nutrition's annual conference highlights how companies can build savvy strategies to meet consumer needs.

Consumers go online for healthcare issues more than any other thing besides checking email and Google searches.

A purchase is made through eBay's mobile app every second.

Online coupons are up 339 percent since 2009.

Online video ads have higher brand recall and favorability.

The virtual transformation of consumers is under way, and companies need to figure out both online strategies to push brands and a compelling online video strategy as mobile becomes the biggest part of consumers' decision trees.

The nexus of healthcare and technology was the focus of the first day of the Council for Responsible Nutrition's annual conference, a gathering of 200 dietary supplement company executives Thursday in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

A fascinating keynote from Thomas Goetz, executive editor of Wired magazine and author of The Decision Tree, counseled executives that consumers are thinking about how health-related choices they make can affect life and livelihood outcomes.

"What you offer is the essence of what healthcare is all about, which is to improve our lives," Goetz said.

A panel discussion with the head of healthcare online sales at Google revealed a new shift in consumer behavior. "When consumers want to make a purchase, they go online and do research and either buy it online or get a coupon and go to a retail store. Consumers are making buying decisions online before they walk into the store," said Kate Alessi of Google. "Online research has forever changed the game."

Even that paradigm is shifting, said Alessi, because consumers are starting to decrease research searches before they go into stores and, because of smart phones and apps, are now researching as they stroll store aisles.

"Mobile will become the biggest part of consumers because that's where you reach them," she said.

A notable aspect of the day's sessions, which ranged from social media to multimedia strategies, was the curious if pronounced lack of questions from the audience—a fair demographic of executives in the late-50 set.

"I saw it as indicative of a lack of core familiarity with these technologies among attendees," said Patrick Rea, publisher and editorial director of Nutrition Business Journal. "I'd like to see more leaders with strategic responsibility engaging in technology on a higher level. It's not just a component of your business—it's the future of your business."

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.