Product Managers Start To Get Personal With Health Monitors

People want to be able to monitor their health and control their data
People want to be able to monitor their health and control their data
Image Credit: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Product managers know that people are always concerned about their health. We worry about how much we weigh, what our blood pressure is, if we are pregnant, what our metabolism is, etc. From a product manager point-of-view what is good about all of this worry is that people are willing to buy products that will tell them how their bodies are doing. This demand for more personal information is driving new product development definitions and a new set of products is being created. However, along with products that monitor our customers comes a lot of tricky data privacy questions.

Tell Me How I’m Doing

So just exactly what kind of health care products are we talking about here? There are wristbands that check a person’s blood pressure, a sleep sensor that you put on your forehead in order to detect if you have stopped breathing, and a strap that goes around a pregnant woman’s belly that has the ability to track an unborn baby’s heartbeat. In addition, there are at home sperm tests and breath monitors that can tell you about your digestion. The market for products that can monitor and report on a person’s physical state is exploding.

The companies that are creating products like these are moving rapidly to get their products to market. Their products are optimized to collect data and then they use that data to personalize the product for the customer. The reason that these sorts of products are now becoming available is because of improvements in the accuracy of a wide variety of sensors. Better sensors mean that the product managers for these products have a better chance of getting their products approved by regulators. Getting this kind of approval will look good on anyone’s product manager resume. These advances have come at the same time that the devices have increased their ability to process more and more data.

The key to any of these products being a success is that they need to be able to deliver to their users data that the user can take action on. The products are starting to be able to do that. However, this is a challenging time for health care monitoring products. All of these products are able to do what they do by collecting potentially sensitive data about the person who is wearing them. Potential customers have been reading about Facebook selling its users data, Europe has enacted significant privacy rules, and security breaches keep popping up. Will customers be willing to buy and use products like this?

Who Owns The Data?

A key factor in determining if customers are going to be willing to buy and use personal health care devices will be finding an answer to the question of just exactly who owns the data that the devices are collecting. When some health care products are purchased, the customer gives his or her permission to share their data anonymously for research purposes. However, this agreement does not allow their data to be shared with third parties.

Many of the firms that are creating these personalized health care devices believe that the consumerization of health care could end up leading to both faster and lower-cost health care in the long term. However, as of right now this information is not providing a benefit to anyone just yet. The problem is that there is not an ecosystem for exchanging health care data. Interfaces between a few applications have been established, but as of yet there is no universal type of health care data interface.

Product managers need to be aware that if their company plans on collecting the health care data that is provided by these types of devices, then they are going to have to be able to store that data in a system that complies with the U.S. government’s federal standards for storing health care data referred to as HIPPA. Many product managers do want to configure their products so that the data that has been collected can be shared with other applications. However, the customer will have to be the one to start the sharing process. Specifically, the systems will need to be set up to be opt-in, not opt-out.

What All Of This Means For You

There is a revolution going on in the world of health care monitoring. More and more devices are starting to come on to the market that can monitor and report on a wide variety of personal health factors. There is clearly a demand for these types of products; however, they come along with some serious questions that product managers are going to use to have to look at their product manager job description in order answer. What should they do with all of the personal data that they are collecting?

The number of products that can monitor health factors is exploding. What these products do is also growing. The products work by collecting data from a person who is wearing them. Their sensors detect a physical condition, the data is then stored, processed, personalized, and then presented to the person who is wearing the device. One of the big challenges that product managers are now facing is that there have been a number of stories in the news about personal data being either sold or leaked. A key question that is going to have to be answered is exactly who will own a person’s health data. Collecting all of this data may make the health care system quicker and better. However, right now there is not a way to effectively share all of the data that is being collected. Product managers need to be aware that if they do collect personal health care data, they are going to have to make sure that it is stored in a certified system.

The demand for devices that can monitor our bodies and tell us how we are doing just keeps on growing. Product managers are going to be responsible for listening to what customers want and then creating the products that will meet their needs. However, at the same time product managers are going to have to work out who owns the health data that is being collected and then making sure that it is being stored securely. Eventually everyone’s health will be monitored in some way, are product managers going to be ready when this day comes?

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that product managers should look for ways to sell the health data that they are collecting?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So product manager, what does your product look like? No, I mean when your customer first has a chance to get their hands on their version of your product, what does it look like? Does it show up in a nondescript cardboard box? Is it in an unremarkable container? You do realize how very important first impressions are, right?

eBay takes a bite at StockX and GOAT with sneaker authentication for sales $100+ in the U.S.

eBay is announcing today that it’s going to start authenticating sneaker sales over $100 in the U.S. This is a clear bite into the dominance of StockX and GOAT in the limited sneaker universe.

The authentication will be done by Sneaker Con, the company that runs, well, Sneaker Con. Founded by Yu-Ming Wu and Hayden Sharitt, Sneaker Con was infused with cash by Visionary Private Equity Group in 2018. They provide a well known and influential backer in the sneakerhead community that should provide a solid signal for buyers and sellers. It’s a good choice.

The quick story here is that eBay’s rep for authentic merch is, uh, not great — especially the sneaker universe where fakes can be virtually indistinguishable from authentic items. Though the brands themselves have toyed with different ways to authenticate from NFC tags to blockchain solutions, the counterfeiters have kept up with those various methods too and clone them quickly. About the only way to guarantee authenticity is to get the product in hand and have them examined by people trained to spot fakes. In some cases that spotting can be as granular as counting the number of stitches thrown in between two segments of a shoe, or observing the glue pattern of a midsole joint.

The program sounds pretty much the same as the others on the market.

  • Proof of Authentication: Upon receiving the sneakers, the independent authenticator confirms
    they are consistent with the listing title, description, and images, and then performs a multi-point
    physical authentication inspection. An eBay tag, guaranteeing its authenticity is attached to the
    sneakers to finalize the process, driving confidence in the collectibility and resale value.
  • Third-Party Authentication: eBay has partnered with industry leader Sneaker Con to create a
    new state-of-the-art facility – leveraging the top authenticators in the industry, a robust checklist
    of product specifications, and best-in-class processes to ensure accuracy and efficiency. With
    rigorous inspection of the box, shoe, and accessories, the authentication underscores eBay’s
    commitment to giving shoppers exactly what they want.
  • Verified Returns: For sellers who choose to offer returns, eBay’s sneaker authentication
    program ensures the exact item initially sold is returned to the seller, via a verified returns
    process. Returns are shipped back directly to the authentication center, where the third-party
    experts verify each item and its condition before returning to the seller.

eBay’s reluctance to spin up an person-in-the-middle authentication program allowed a gap for StockX and GOAT to thrive, offering authentication for new and, in GOAT’s case, even pre-owned sneakers. The eBay authentication tags even look like those offered by the two players. eBay had already launched its Authenticity Guarantee for watches over $2,000 (StockX also sells watches.)

The power of authenticity, of course, is what drives the booming secondary market, where shoes can be limited to thousands of pairs or even dozens of pairs per release. Sneaker culture, which was born on the basketball court and driven largely by Black athletes, musicians and icons, is now squarely mainstream and very big business. eBay has been slow to move here but has significant resources and already does brisk sneaker business with 6 million sneakers sold in 2019.

One note here is that this may drive higher margin business for eBay because higher end sales in the $500+ range are harder to justify on eBay where authenticity was not guaranteed. eBay was likely already capturing a decent portion of the lower end market but now has a chance to grab some of the fattier meat.

StockX and GOAT have advantages still, even with authentication now a commodity feature. They are purpose driven with a collector in view, and they have significant mindshare in the community. But if eBay is able to rescue its reputation for questionable sneaker transactions (I was once shipped a pair of socks and a literal brick in an eBay transaction gone bad) and incredibly poor seller support (eBay sides with the buyer in the vast majority of disputes, even obvious con jobs) then it could pose a serious threat here.

My hope is that the faster movers here will take this as an opportunity to really revamp their product experiences. Both StockX and GOAT have been relatively stagnant on the app and website front for a while, offering some intriguing yet incremental innovation — but not dramatically overhauling their product.

Sneaker market GOAT hires COO Lizzie Francis and makes a play for women sneaker shoppers

GOAT, the secondary marketplace for sneakers that recently merged with Flight Club, is announcing a new hire. Lizzie Francis will join the company as Chief Operating Officer, coming from Brilliant Ventures where she will remain a managing partner.

Francis formerly acted as CMO at Gilt Group and CMO at She’s been running Brilliant for a couple of years after founding it with Kara Weber. She also serves on the board of Shoes of Prey, a custom shoe company currently aimed at the women’s market. Now she’s taking an ops position at one of the biggest players in the sneaker market.

Along with StockX, GOAT has brought a huge amount of access and pricing transparency to resale sneakers, a billion-plus market. GOAT currently has over 8 million members, 400 employees, 100,000 combined sellers and 400,000 sneaker listings. After merging with the powerhouse retailer, it now has the two Flight Club retail stores in Los Angeles and New York.

GOAT CEO Eddy Lu says Francis had the cross-section of experience they needed in the days ahead.

“As we see the future of GOAT…we’re going international, we want to focus on more on women, we want to do a bunch of stuff, including innovation on the technology side, we wanted to bring in a great senior leader that has seen a lot of this stuff especially as we’ve done the Flight Club merger. We’re looking into more retail as well so we wanted someone that had great e-commerce experience but also understood retail that could really help us think through how to create model stores how to expand physical retail, and omni channel retail, in general. So, yeah, we talked to a bunch of people and Lizzie was the one who just kind of all of us just really gravitated towards.”

As a sneaker marketplace, GOAT already has an incredible opportunity to flip the script on the traditional attitude of that culture towards women shoppers. Sneakerheads who also happen to be women have been massively underserved to this point. GOAT’s female user base is growing at twice the rate of its male users. 

“There are so many things that are going so well here [at GOAT],” Francis says, “but in terms of immediate opportunity, obviously expanding into women is important for the company, and we’re seeing some really favorable tailwinds and data points that indicate that it’s a great time for us to be doing that. And also, our current customer bases, primarily male said, I’m sure you know, 85% of consumer spending is controlled by women. So it feels like now that we have a great platform in place it’s actually a great time for us to focus on that female customer that’s both a buyer and a seller.”

This year, GOAT will introduce sizing conversion tools for women on the platform, allowing them to easily figure out what men’s size will fit them. This is important because a huge amount of sneaker styles that are made for men are not produced for women, so both parties are shopping the same styles and pools of stock. They’ll also introduce more women’s styles to the mix.

GOAT and Flight Club as a combined entity has some interesting roads ahead of it figuring out the role of traditional retail in supporting and augmenting online sales. Lu says that both pop-up and traditional retail are in the plans.

“We’re open to whatever the customer tells us they want to need. Right now, the Flight Club stores have some of the highest sales per square foot comps in the country. People come to Flight Club because they’re cultural institutions and so we definitely see a need and an opportunity to create more kind of brick and mortar, long term lease store and keep market.”

Francis says that the biggest opportunity that she sees with the brand currently is to lean into storytelling. Between the launch of a shoe directly with Versace and Greatest, GOAT’s new periodical, there’s a chance to enhance the story side of the company – and storytelling does sell shoes, just ask Jordan Brand.

“I see that there’s still so much more opportunity for us to amplify storytelling across the platforms and in store in a way that really connects the consumer with the product,” says Francis. “Because whenever we buy product, when we buy style, it’s a reflection of who we are, and it says a little bit about us before the [other] person even knows who we are. I mean, I bet a fun trick would be what we are all wearing today, what shoes do we have on now? What’s our Monday morning shoe? what’s our Monday night shoe? They are telling the world ‘this is who I am.’ And so I think the thing I can help on right away is how we continue to amplify the storytelling that we’re doing and do it in a way where the consumer feels that we don’t leave any of the great frictionless experience of the technology that’s already there —but just make it addictive in a way that’s fun and exciting for both the consumer and the seller.”