When I say “Fitbit,” you may think, “digital health.” When I mention “Gatorade,” “Nestle,” and “Dannon,” you might think, “drink,” “chocolate,” and “yogurt.” But soon, the phrase “digital health” will come to mind.
That’s because a growing list of food manufacturers is looking to digital technologies to bake (or cook, blend, or mix) health into their value propositions.
“Gatorade Taps Into Tech-Thirsty Consumers” is an article published in today’s Wall Street Journal, page B1 in the Business & Tech section of the newspaper. Mike Estrel writes that Gatorade is going high tech, working on a “smart cap” bottle with a microchip sensor that informs the consumer about their personal hydration needs (pictured in the first graphic). In tandem with this digital strategy, Gatorade is extending the brand (known for balancing electrolytes and carbohydrates) to new products in the portfolio like protein bars, shakes, and a so-called “night yogurt” for athletes to consume before sleeping (with the purpose of rebuilding muscles after working out). Gatorade will launch this offering at the annual South-by-Southwest’s Interactive Festival in Austin this weekend.
Nestle announced a project with Medidata to pilot tracking physical activity and nutrition. A two-year study has been undertaken in China to develop evidence on the impact of a nutrition-packed product combined with physical activity. The trial’s subjects are using Garmin’s Vivofit trackers coupled with the Medidata ePRO (electronic patient-reported outcomes) app which captures patient-generated data via smartphones or tablets. All data is routed to the Medidata Clinical Cloud platform whose core business has been in clinical trial data management.
Dannon in the U.S. is best known for yogurt and the Activia brand (closely associated with Jamie Lee Curtis), but in the rest of the world, Danone is steeped in a tradition of nutrition. The company quietly launched the Nutrimom program in 2015, targeted to new moms. Nutrimom combines a subscription program (think: Birchbox and Blue Apron) with food and supplements, combined with personal coaching (via nutritionists specializing in early life nutrition and lactation) and a mobile app. “Your baby’s lifelong health is in your hands” is the Nutrimom mantra. The program is informed by the Nutricia Early Life division of the company, focused on the first 1,000 days of life.
Expect further digital ventures with food manufacturers that put nutrition management into the hands of consumers keen to DIY their and their families’ health.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: These digital food projects are part of the larger growing digital health ecosystem, where consumers can use products and services 24×7 to bolster health and wellness. We’re in the thick of the growth of the wearables segment; think of this slice of the pie as the digital health-consumables segment, all enabled through miniature and increasingly cheaper sensor technology.