Analysis: Why PPP prescribed shops - PPP healthcare’s plans to open a chain of high-street shops aims to stir up a stagnating healthcare market, writes Patrick Barrett

Private medical company PPP healthcare is to prescribe its customers a course of face-to-face personal care by launching its brand on the high street with a chain of one-stop health shops.

Private medical company PPP healthcare is to prescribe its

customers a course of face-to-face personal care by launching its brand

on the high street with a chain of one-stop health shops.



The initiative is part of a strategy designed to persuade consumers that

there is more to private healthcare than taking out insurance against an

inevitable future illness.



But by taking its brand to the consumer on the street, PPP is also

aiming to shake up the private market, which is suffering all the

symptoms of stagnation. Despite spending around pounds 50m between them

in the past three years on advertising, the two leading lights of

private healthcare, Bupa and PPP, have failed to significantly grow the

market.



The proportion of those opting to pay for private medical care has

stayed stubbornly at around 11% while the vast majority of consumers

still rely on the National Health Service.



According to research consultant Datamonitor, the health insurance

market is worth about pounds 1.7bn but is unlikely to grow by more than

2% over the next five years. Datamonitor also found the number of

overall subscribers has fallen from 3.2 million to 3.1 million since

1990.



Faced with these figures, PPP has opted to shed the cold and distant

image of an insurance company and approach the market differently.



Focus on services



Under its previous name, Private Pensions Plan, PPP had focused on

selling long-term healthcare insurance, but since it was relaunched in

1995, it has shifted its business focus toward a wide range of separate

services marketed along FMCG lines.



As well as medical insurance, PPP now offers regular health checks, eye

and dental care and a service for women covering pregnancy, infertility

and hormonal treatment, plus a 24-hour advice line.



But to market these products successfully and expand the market, the

company now recognises it can no longer keep the PPP brand at arm’s

length from its consumers.



Head of brand marketing at PPP, Chris Webster, says the company aims to

make taking up private healthcare a more personal process. ’A couple of

years ago we found ourselves in the position where people had allowed

the healthcare category to become a commodity that was insurance,’ he

says. ’We took the position that we should become a service company and

ask what consumers want from healthcare.



’The point is, the marketplace is not as it has traditionally been

viewed.



We did not spend pounds 30m building the brand just to sell more

insurance.



It is a commercial market from which we expect to get some return. We

are trying to make people understand what you get from private

healthcare is different and that what you are paying for is to be in

control of the process.’



Healthy rivalry



PPP is unlikely to be alone in its high-street initiative. Its main

rival, Bupa, has also been considering such a move for some time but has

yet to take the plunge.



At the Marketing Forum last month, Bruce Trantor, marketing and new

product director at Bupa, hinted his firm may look to achieve its

long-term goal of establishing private healthcare as the natural

alternative to the NHS by marketing the brand on a community level.



’Changing employment structures are forcing the need for one-stop

shopping,’ said Trantor. ’That one-stop shopping concept is an

opportunity which many organisations are trying to grab, whether they

are financial services organisations, communications or retail. In most

of the development plans there is the concept of a relationship, and

that relationship is based on providing quite a broad product

offering.’



But if Bupa and PPP are to retain a lead in the market they may need to

establish their brands on the high street sooner rather then later.



There are signs supermarkets want to make sure customers are healthy

enough to maintain an appetite. Both Tesco and Sainsbury’s are dabbling

in healthcare, with Tesco launching in-store pharmacies and making space

available in stores for GP surgeries.



One City observer says the move may prove crucial. ’Healthcare is a

different world from selling motor and car insurance; you can do that

over the phone.



But when you are talking about complicated systems of healthcare, you

need to have a face-to-face with the customer. There is no better way

than being there on the high street,’ he says.



Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug