Why All Health Brands Should Care About Amazon Care

By Christina Falzano, Managing Director U.S., Conran Design Group

We often think of disruptors as small and nimble – stealthily entering an industry and turning it on its head. That’s certainly how Amazon started. Combining extensive inventory as vast as the Amazon river with easy to access reviews from other customers – seen as more trusted than professional reviewers – while providing low prices and fast shipping, Amazon wreaked havoc on the retail book industry. Amazon then applied this successful model to other retail categories, elevating consumers’ expectations and truly transforming the way people shop.

Amazon is obviously no longer small, but it has proven itself to still be surprisingly nimble. Leveraging an ever-increasing competitive advantage in logistics and data collection, Amazon is extending its reach well beyond e-commerce and retail – seemingly poised to bring disruption and change to a range of established industries. According to Buzzfeed News, Amazon has its hand in a dizzying array of businesses, including web and cloud services, gaming, media and entertainment, energy, education, finance, and most recently healthcare.

To date, Amazon has taken measured steps toward entering healthcare – from Amazon 1492 and Haven, to Amazon Basic Care, Pill Pack, and Amazon Pharmacy to Amazon Care. However, Amazon’s recent announcement that it will be expanding Amazon Care to all fifty states and beginning expansion of in-person clinical services to major cities has dominated headlines. Though we do not know what future steps, leaps, or bounds Amazon may take further into the healthcare space, there is no doubt that it has arrived. But what exactly does that arrival mean for other brands in the space?

Looking to other industries Amazon has entered – and in many cases transformed – may provide some clues. It likely means a general raising of the bar around customer experience – that overall, customers will have interactions with Amazon that are simpler, faster, cheaper, more personalized, more transparent, and more connected than the ones they are currently having now. They will come to expect these types of interactions more broadly across other healthcare brands, or as importantly, question why they are not having them.

It is no secret that interacting with some healthcare brands, and the industry in general, can be complicated, frustrating, costly, and impersonal – or at the very least, perceived that way.

In one of the most personal of industries, personalization and transparency can go a long way in building trust. Customers of Amazon, many of them members, know Amazon is collecting data on them, but they also feel that the data is secure and used for their benefit. A third of the US population has an Amazon Prime membership and overall customer satisfaction and sentiment is up, in no small part due to the critical role people view Amazon playing in their lives during the pandemic.

From a branding perspective, Amazon’s ability to deliver on a more customer-centric model could impact everyone with primary care, including online and in-person doctor visits, clinic services, prescriptions, and delivery of medicines, becoming a seamless and connected experience. And with Amazon using its current customer base to slowly and smartly expand, applying its expertise in customer service, data collection, logistics, and the seamless connection between on and offline to improve customer experience and shore up customer loyalty, we could be on the path to a golden age of healthcare, provided that brands learn the lessons of Amazon’s past successes.

For one, Amazon is direct. Their messaging is extremely simple and easy for users to access and understand – after all, customer service is where they truly excel. Unfortunately, much of the current way that the healthcare industry communicates is confusing and can be frustrating for the public, and it often obfuscates the value they are providing. Customers lose sight of the good things about a brand when they are bogged down by inconsistent messaging and haphazard customer service, and it can be incredibly socially damaging, even to a brand with a proven track record of providing an excellent product.

Even more than their messaging, the entire experience of using Amazon is seamless and connected end-to-end; it stays consistent from brand touchpoint to brand touchpoint. To compete, healthcare brands will need to figure out how to create a similarly compelling and frictionless experience for their customers. While this may seem daunting, it could actually provide an exciting challenge and opportunity for these brands and the people who design them. Not only will their customer service experience improve, but they will have a chance to figure out what makes their service unique and how to extend that value proposition both in real life and digitally, as well as to places that they themselves do not actually own.

And, though some may not agree, Amazon is generally lauded for the transparency of its interactions with customers. They provide you with a tracker that measures down to the minute when something will arrive. If your order is delayed for any reason, they reach out in advance. If something is wrong with the order, they have multiple solutions at the ready. Customers appreciate this kind of proactivity, and, as Amazon expands further into the healthcare industry, they’ll come to expect the same of every other brand on the market. To fulfill this expectation, brands will need to create their own playbooks and find ways to shift their actions and words from reactive to proactive. It would be a massive, holistic change, but it is possible, and soon it will be necessary to survive.

Amazon is currently “human” and consumer-centric in a way that most healthcare brands can currently only hope to be – living up to their promise of servicing “human” needs… but it doesn’t have to stay that way. It will be a challenge for the healthcare industry, but there is so much room to grow and perhaps even partner with the retail giant in mutually beneficial ways. Amazon entering healthcare doesn’t have to be a zero sum game that ends in destruction; by offering their expertise in technology, data collection, and logistics, Amazon can help healthcare brands with great products create more connected, seamless, and transparent interactions – ones that can build loyalty and completely reshape our view of an entire industry.

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About Conran Design Group:

Founded by renowned designer Sir Terence Conran, Conran Design Group is a design-led branding agency that believes in the power of well-designed brands to move people, shape culture, and help businesses thrive.

We work together with our clients to shape actionable brand strategies and brand expressions that matter by elevating the biggest ideas and honing the smallest details.