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Lessons from the campfire

By Cherie Buraglio, Executive Director, Product Innovation

I recently had the opportunity to lead an inaugural Campfire session at this year’s HERO Forum in Phoenix, “Welcome to the Jungle: Keeping pace with the Amazon-like speed of personalization.” The campfire format was new to this year’s HERO Forum; its aim is to provide a more casual and relaxed format to share insight and discuss issues of importance to our industry. Trying to duplicate the experience of a real campfire the best I could in an air-conditioned conference room, I arranged chairs in a semi-circle. And in case you were wondering, yes, I did have Guns N’ Roses playing in the background!

I began by asking attendees to jot down on a Post-it® note what they hoped to get from the discussion. Then, for the next 30 minutes we used these notes as conversation starters. Here’s a verbatim sampling from the notes:

Understand where the “line” is where personalization becomes “creepy” or big brother to health consumers
This one didn’t surprise me as those of us in the industry know all too well that privacy is a key concern for well-being program participants. We conducted research on well-being program participation and found that employee non-participants listed trust/privacy concerns with their employer as a top barrier keeping them from participating in their employer’s health, well-being or fitness program. When it comes to allaying privacy concerns, I believe the most effective course of action is to continue communicating with and being transparent to employees as to how we are (and importantly, are not) using data.

How to offer options without overwhelming associates or exhausting the menu of options
Speaking of information, one of the Campfire attendees made a great point about how we naturally use personalization to handle information overload. She asked rhetorically how many emails we all get on any given day and the percentage of those that are important to us. I could tell by the nodding heads that she’d struck a nerve. It’s all well and good to provide employee participants with a wide range of health and well-being related content. But we need to offer guidance to participants on what content is most useful to them and why; how it can help them meet their objectives. This is where health coaches can play a crucial role.

How we can keep it fresh
I had begun the discussion asking participants to share examples of other companies that used a personalized approach to get and keep customers and how we might learn from them. Perhaps not surprisingly, participants listed brands like Netflix, Amazon and Spotify as examples. Yet as the conversation progressed we realized that, although admirable, these companies engage consumers on an entirely different level. These leading brands speak to the value consumers place on convenience. And the commonality is that consumers know they will get something—a tangible good or service in return.

Our industry, in comparison, speaks to a worthy, yet constantly evolving set of values. An employee participant might seek care for an urgent matter; that’s their priority, or value, for today. That value could change tomorrow. Rather than tangible goods, we are focusing on values that individuals hold dear to their heart. We need to demonstrate how personalization enables an improved health and wellbeing experience matched to these evolving values.

Let’s continue the discussion
I’d love to talk to you more about personalization in our industry. Please contact me at to learn more. 

About the author: 

As Executive Director, Product Innovation, Cherie is charged with driving our product portfolio strategy. With nearly 25 years of experience in public health and the wellness industry, she has worked closely with industry thought leaders and is experienced in assessment development, scoring algorithms, messaging, health management, coaching and reporting tool design. Cherie is a military veteran with degrees in biology, community health education and a master’s degree in adult education.

Posted on September 25, 2017 in Personalization

Tagged as Conferences