Unaliwear’s Chief Marketing Officer, Richard Hirsch, recently came on the Best Company Podcast to explain how Unaliwear introduced new technology to the medical alert industry, how the company shows respect to its target audience, and how it helps its customers make an informed medical alert purchase.
Richard explained that Unaliwear has gone above and beyond to make a medical alert device that wasn’t like any other in the market. He said that Unaliwear’s found, Jean Ann Booth, decided in 2013 to create her own medical alert product when she was doing research on medical alert devices for her mother.
“She (Jean) couldn’t believe that the only thing(s) that were out there were these very, very gaudy, large neck pendants or other kinds of really old technology offerings that really were not very user friendly.”
Richard mentioned that Jean had an electrical engineering background, the time, and the resources to create her ideal medical alert device called the Kanega watch, which is Unaliwear’s main offering.
“She (Jean) did something that no one else in the industry did. She ended up doing focus groups full of many seniors around the country about what they actually wanted in one of these devices…She was able to build the first watch that offered the same emergency response in a watch-based format and that also had fall detection. And all of these features and benefits that this watch has are all incredibly senior-friendly.”
Unlike other companies in the industry, Richard said that Unaliwear wants to help people feel less ashamed of needing or buying a medical alert device.
“This watch is really trying to set the tone of a different conversation with this audience in a way that says ‘you don’t have to be stigmatized, you don’t have to feel ashamed, you don’t have to feel like you’re embarrassed because you want to be protected.’”
He also mentioned that the switching rate for when someone returns a product from one brand and buys one from Unaliwear is higher than the average industry switching rate, which motivates the company to continue improving its product.
“This is not a comfortable, casual purchase. This is a purchase based upon either an event or based upon fear. It’s generally wrapped around a lot of stress, either for the son or the daughter…or the actual wearer. So, they want to kind of get in and out and be done. The switching (for the industry) is about 5 percent, so 5 percent of people will return one product and get something else. About 35 percent of our customers are coming from competitive products. So, we’re seven times higher in terms of switching because people are voting with their wallets and saying ‘I’m returning this product to get your product’ and that gives us a lot of confidence…and it drives us to try to innovate further to make this an even more sticky and embraceable product.”
When asked about Unaliwear’s customer acquisition, Richard explained that in addition to affiliate marketing, the company focuses on providing an educational, non-pushy digital approach.
“Once people get to us, we then try to leverage and be very transparent with all the information that we have so that they feel like we’re being very honest and transparent with them. So, we have a really nice video they can watch, we have a brochure they can download without providing us any information at all. We have various information that helps them make a really informed decision.”
Along with that approach, Richard mentioned that Unaliwear has a fairly unique, non-paid ambassador support system that allows potential customers the opportunity to speak with current customers about their experiences with buying and using the Kanega watch.
“When you fill out the lead form on our website, there’s actually a box you can check that says ‘I’d like to speak to an actual wearer.’ We have ambassadors around the country that have Kanega watches. We don’t pay them and they say ‘if you have someone that is going through this journey, I went through and I want to make it easier for the next person. I want to pay it forward, have them call me.'"
He explained that the company takes extra precautions to make sure each ambassador is connected to the potential customer without invading their privacy. Richard also explained that Unaliwear greatly focuses on building a safe, helpful community.
“And of course, we set them up with a distinct phone number, so they’re not calling that person’s cell phone, so they’re able to talk to people without them feeling like they’re having their privacy invaded. But they’re volunteering that. No one else in the industry does that. So, you can talk to a 25-year-old salesperson who wants to get you sold on the phone right then and there and doesn’t really want to take time with you, or you can have an hour conversation with someone who has time to talk to you and has actually been wearing the product for two years.”
“That, I think, is another thing that separates us from our competition. We really want to build a community, and we’re successfully over the course of time, building this community of wearers and their families and we’re keeping them safe and protected in all ways you possibly can.”
In terms of building credibility with customers, Richard said that Unaliwear stays on top of responding to both negative and positive reviews that it receives on Best Company.
“A lot of our reviews go through Best Company because of our great relationship with you all. You know, not all of them are positive. Some people have problems and issues. We know that. But we respond to every one of those. We get a lot of five-star reviews on Best Company, but if we get lower reviews, we don’t just let them sit there. We respond to them inside Best Company’s portal and then we also reach out to them to see how we can be helpful.”
Lastly, he mentioned that Unaliwear takes its customers’ privacy concerns seriously and that also helps the company build trust and credibility within the industry.
“This is, by far, the most intense privacy generation in our country. They are really concerned about privacy. So, we respect that on a lot of levels. One, we don’t sell any of their data. We don’t have cross-promotional relationships…In addition to that, when you fill out a lead form, we ask if you’d like to give us your number if you want to speak to somebody, but we don’t require it. Everyone else in this industry requires you to provide a phone number before they can send you any information because they want to put you in their system and basically call you every day.”
“So, on both the micro and macro level, we think about how we operate as a company in a way that is the most respectful to this audience. And if you do that every day, day in and day out, and you think about everything through that filter, over the course of time, you get a lot of positive feedback from this audience.”
Richard Hirsch has had a 30+ year career in marketing, sales, and business leadership, primarily in the health, healthcare, and media industries.
Most prominently, Richard was part of the core senior management team for three separate health-related start-ups: Atkins Nutritionals, Health Club Media Network, and Earndit. He helped all of them lead to acquisition (two by PE and one by a strategic) with a total transaction value of more than $500 million.
Prior to joining UnaliWear, Richard was the CMO of Connect America, the nation’s largest PERS provider for both the DTC and B2B channels. While at Connect America, Richard also helped commercialize the company’s entry into Remote Patient Monitoring.
Richard received his MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School and his BA from Brandeis University.
UnaliWear is a medical alert company that strives to help vulnerable populations increase their independence while maintaining dignity.
UnaliWear’s main product is the Kanega Watch, which has built-in fall detection and voice detection, doesn’t need to be removed when charged, has a long-lasting battery, and connects to both Wi-Fi and cellular service.