Why CPGs have a big opportunity in the future of healthcare

I recently attended CB Insights Future of Health conference in New York City, bringing together 600-plus industry leaders, startups, and investors from around the world to discuss the direction of healthcare.

A dominant theme at the conference was the expanding role of technology and tech players. As CB Insights CEO Anand Sanwal asserted in the opening keynote, “will tech understand healthcare before healthcare understands tech … The lines of competition are redrawn.”

So why was I, a CPG and retail analyst, at this event? Because overlap between, and opportunity for, the consumer industry to support these needs is big and growing.

Grocers’ strategic focus on health is already unavoidable, as the acquisition of Shoppers Drug Mart and Jean Coutu by Loblaw and Metro, respectively, illustrate. With growing demand for health and wellness solutions, and rising shopper expectations for ease and experience, grocers will further expand their health reach to drive more trips and bigger baskets.

Here are three market opportunities I saw that no brand or grocery retailer should ignore.

Connected products for early detection. Whether it’s smart bathroom devices that detect infections or smart tampons that can identify endometriosis or STDs before consumers feel an issue, there is an opportunity for our daily products to play a key role in fast intervention. Watch for new categories to hit the shelf and new health services that interpret readings from these products over the next three years.

And as 5G networks become widespread, connecting more products with more powerful sensors will become easier and expand what’s possible. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel viewed the impact of this technology as underrated, recognizing that we’ll have more sensors and systems to diagnose nearly everything around us.

Experience and consumer connection. As the head of Uber Health, Dan Trigub, observed, “it’s never about the tech, it’s about the experience.”

Brands’ and retailers’ understanding of frictionless experience, lifetime connection, and meaningful brand moments are underutilized in today’s patient care management. Co-CEO of Warby Parker, Dave Gilboa recognized its opportunity to “stand for the best value”, expanding from a D2C eyeglass company to build out mobile app prescription tools and even hiring optometrists.

Watch for grocers, mass, and drug stores to acquire a D2C health company, such as Manual or ASYSTEM, as a means to further their digital connection, elevate proprietary health brands, and round-out how they serve shoppers and patients.

Women’s health. Investor funding for women’s health startups have quadrupled over the past decade, reaching US$800 million year-to-date. Healthcare analyst Ja Lee explained the industry is waking up to this traditionally overlooked market, with tech players designing targeted solutions. This is in contrast to a retailer publishing educational articles on its website or generic in-store health events.

Specifically, life changing conditions, such as menopause and incontinence, are receiving more attention. As attention to these consumer issues rise, we will see more product innovation and categories emerge, such as aids to better manage menopause and post-menopause symptoms.

To identify startups innovating in each of these spaces, checkout our platform,, which profiles private companies to help strategy leaders pinpoint and act on emerging trends faster. Or, reach out to me directly on LinkedIn.