Children’s health and wellness have long been a priority for me. Not only because I am the father of one teen and two young adults, but because my leadership role at Inmar allows me the privilege each day to lead more than 4,000 employees, many of whom are also parents who want the best health possible for their children. But they often lack tools to assist and engage them. So, I was thrilled to have Inmar take an active role in supporting GENYOUth’s recent Inaugural Youth Survey on Trends in Health and Wellness to better understand how today’s youth use technology to support their health and well-being. Inmar’s primary focus is to apply technology and data science to improve outcomes for consumers and the businesses that serve them. I wanted to know what the survey would reveal about the behaviors of this particular market segment.
We can be encouraged that the majority of those who participated care about their health and understand the actions they take today will affect their future. However, I did not expect to learn that only 10 percent of those surveyed are effectively using technology to reach their health goals. Why? They don’t feel the products currently available are made with them in mind. This simply does not have to be the case – especially in an age when youth are leading the charge in mastering new technologies.
So why aren’t we as business leaders and those in the consumer marketplace paying closer attention to younger consumers? Businesses primarily focus on what we believe will bring the greatest return on investment. Since a health-conscious lifestyle becomes more important with age in order to reduce healthcare costs, perhaps some believe that developing health and wellness products for adults is the most profitable strategy. This short-sighted business model results in a missed opportunity to influence an entire generation’s health habits early in life, which will ultimately deliver a generation with fewer health problems and less of a need for treatment later in life.
GENYOUth’s survey underscores the potential impact that a teen’s understanding of health and nutrition could have on an organization’s bottom line. The massive costs associated with providing healthcare coverage to adults could be dramatically less if employees practiced healthy habits from their earliest days of adolescence. As a result, many of the resources currently being spent on health -- and -- wellness related initiatives could be redirected towards endeavors that foster growth for companies and prosperity for its workforce. But there’s more to be gained than just a long-term reduction in healthcare costs – I believe there is an opportunity for new products to be developed with youth providing direct feedback, not only in creating such resources, but also providing invaluable insight and suggestions on how to market and advertise their benefits. The survey uncovered an immediate need among today’s youth for technology that will incentivize them to make their well-being a priority. Whether it’s groundbreaking new hardware or software they can use on their existing devices, the market is ripe for youth-oriented products that inspire a healthier lifestyle.
Research on teen behavior conducted by Inmar has led me to believe that the best places to invest in youth health and wellness technology are within the environments they are accustomed to using. Technology has already been integrated into nearly every aspect of our children’s lives. At school, teachers are utilizing digital platforms to teach their curriculum. At home, kids are using technology to communicate, express themselves and search for information. Unfortunately, many are currently relying on sources they find online that may have questionable credibility, and, in sometimes, are entirely false. Through innovation, we can create trusted sources for health and wellness on the digital platforms that are already familiar to children.
To achieve this, technology companies, healthcare providers, educational institutions, marketers and the children they wish to serve must collaborate. This means bringing youth into the process during the earliest stages of development. Involve them in the initial research and provide them with direct access to decision-makers throughout the development, testing and marketing of these products. Without their voices, our efforts as business leaders will not resonate – the data proves it.
I am advocating for tech companies to work closely with healthcare providers and social influencers to develop curated health communities on existing social media platforms - destinations where today’s youth can go to find credible information from voices they know and trust. They can be encouraged and empowered to take control of their well-being using the same reward mechanisms they’re already familiar with on social media – “likes,” “shares” or even a shout-out from one of their favorite celebrities. We will need the expertise of marketers to introduce these online communities to young people through meaningful content that speaks to the many market segments represented within this generation.
Tech companies must also collaborate with educational institutions and supporting organizations, like GENYOUth, to enhance the learning platforms educators use to teach their curriculum and track performance. Accountability programs can be built that incentivize students who take responsibility for their own well-being. These build-outs could include optional assignments on health and nutrition, as well as tools that track physical activity and eating habits. Once completed, extra-credit points could be awarded to participating students.
Empowering our youth to take control of their well-being will lead to longer, happier lives for the generations to come while also strengthening our communities and our businesses. That’s why Inmar remains committed to investing in research initiatives to better understand today’s youth. I’m asking other CEOs to join me in making a long-term investment in providing the tools our young people need to live their lives to the fullest. Not only will you be serving the needs of our children – you’ll ultimately help grow your business’ bottom line.
David Mounts is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Inmar, a global company with over 35 years of experience in applying technology and data science to improve outcomes for consumers and those who serve them. Inmar has access to billions of consumer and business transactions in real time, with analytics, platforms and services that enable engagement with shoppers and patients. Mounts’ expertise in investment, innovation, industry collaboration and corporate development continues to support Inmar’s transformative product innovation and the growth of information-driven networks.
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