Given the reality that so many people worldwide are affected by some environmental hazard regularly, with the right product strategy, nearly every IoT solution could be leveraging environmental data to boost product engagement and build memorable experiences, regardless of industry.
To succeed, product makers and experience designers need to find a way to combine demonstrated value, engagement prompts, and user-targeted information to help consumers adopt new behavior patterns and make healthier and safer everyday decisions. Let’s explore this more:
Why Personalize the Environmental Experience?
The environmental risk is real. Ambient air pollution exposure accounts for 4.2 million premature deaths each year, and increased pollen levels have been known to contribute dramatically to hospitalizations. A few years ago, a significant ‘thunderstorm asthma’ event in Australia was found to have caused a 672% increase in Melbourne and Geelong public hospitals’ respiratory-related cases!
Evidence shows that when environmental information is delivered in a way that has specific relevance to a person’s life, they’ll be more likely to remember it and engage with products that address it––think air purifier, ventilation systems, allergy relief, etc.
For product managers with a connected solution to help protect individuals during these environmental events, the opportunity is huge. Still, they also need to find a way to personalize the experience.
How To ‘Personalize’ Solutions When the Environment Affects Everyone
High pollution days, wildfires, thunderstorms, high pollen count––so many people are affected by environmental events somehow, the question begs… if your target users consist of such diverse groups in terms of location, age, profession, and more, how on earth do you deliver the impactful kind of personalization needed?
1. Understand Individual User Needs & Identify Gaps in the Market
Consumer motivations for buying and engaging with connected products will be different according to vertical, so it’s important to first determine the specific use-case to which environmental insights can bring the most value:
Patients may want to know when environmental conditions could exacerbate their health conditions. For example, making them feel safer and more protected with relevant information could help consumers take medication on time and prevent asthma and severe allergy attacks.
Location-specific data helps consumers maintain clean indoor air quality by prompting them to utilize air filtration and purification methods when the weather changes or when outdoor pollution and pollen levels rise.
Exercising outside is always a great idea. What if your hiking app user is extremely allergic to pollen, or your cyclist app user has severe asthma and doesn’t realize how much pollution he’s been exposed to during his commute each day? By adding cleaner route planning, your solution could solve this problem.
In small, restrictive spaces, consumers would benefit from personal safety to receive alerts on engine fumes and other emissions to prevent in-cabin contamination.
A historical timeline of air quality data for different areas to help future planning, help perform price evaluation and add environmental context for property comparisons.
Could your app or product help customers to plan healthier trip routes based on the air pollution levels where they are?
Improvement of risk management capabilities is a big qualifier for how useful certain tools and data are for insurance agents. Live-updates on weather, air pollution, and even pollen could offer significant value in this regard.
2. Understand the Triggers Needed for Behavior Change
Certainly, some population segments will be more aware of the negative effects of breathing hazards like air pollution and pollen more than others. Those who have asthma, seasonal allergies, or other respiratory issues and health vulnerabilities may understand the health impact of the environment better than most. But even people who ostensibly “don’t care” will take action when presented with personalized data or situations in which poor air quality clearly becomes an issue.
For example, a parent will take their young child away from the presence of cigarette smoke or keep them from going outside during harsh weather conditions because a fundamental understanding of the potential harm exists and supports the desire to care for their well-being loved ones. When presented with personalized location-based information based on their immediate choices and behavior, people do suddenly care a great deal about air quality data and take action accordingly.
3. Make Habit Change Easy
Ease of access is one of the biggest facilitators for the impact of product engagement on the consumer’s decision-making process. A global pandemic has shown us that many people will care about environmental risk factors when they understand personal dangers.
Encouraging positive habit formation is a key factor for product engagement in this case. Actionable environmental information delivered at the street-level and in real-time provides a great tool for this stage because your product will become part of your user’s everyday decision-making in the same way we’ll check the weather forecast before organizing a picnic outside.
The eBike brand Cowboy provides a great example of this kind of air-pollution-related decision-making in action. In the latest update of their app, they’ve added a navigation feature that enables riders to plan their routes based on the live air quality levels.
By enriching connected experiences and providing actionable, personalized information about the environment in real-time, product and experience designers can harness environmental data to engage product users from all walks of life.
The bonus right now is a first-mover advantage, but a wider market change in response to the air we breathe is already happening. The potential use cases are vast––the only limit is your imagination.