Alternative healthcare (as defined to include chiropractic, acupuncture, massage, yoga, meditation, nutrition counseling and other services) was a $30B market in 2013 the United States. Globally, the market was estimated at $115B in 2012 by Global Industry Analysts.
One alternative healthcare provider, Aligned Modern Health, is bringing differentiated services, high quality retail locations, and powerful marketing to drive its brand and business growth. Started in 2011, this provider is laser focused on the chiropractic care, acupuncture, massage therapy, nutrition and fitness segments. With four locations in Chicago, Aligned has earned the “Best of Yelp” designation for chiropractic services and was voted best Midwest Region Sports Massage in Competitor magazine.
As the chart below shows, the alternative healthcare market can be broken down into Chiropractic, Nutrition and Other (including Acupuncture and Massage).
The industry structure is very fragmented, with numerous small providers. In fact, the typical chiropractic business averages only $211,000 in revenue annually, while Acupuncture, Massage and Other average only $67,000. This fragmented industry structure, with an average of 1.6 employees per business presents an opportunity for consolidation and growth of a larger player, provided that the barriers are overcome.
Differentiation and a strong brand are critical in this market, with its large number and wide spectrum of competitors. Providers range from highly clinical to very casual—such as traditional chiropractic practices to airport massage parlors.
I caught up with Bill Fiely, Vice President of Marketing and Co-Founder for Aligned Modern Health, to ask him about the alternative health market and his company’s market strategy. He says this already considerable market is on the rise:
“We are tapping into a large market with several favorable tail winds that are driving growth. Right now, acupuncture has a 5% household penetration and chiropractic services have 10%. Compare that to China with 96% household penetration for acupuncture. We are taking practices in their nascent stage of development in the US and providing a quality, trusted location.”
Aligned Modern Health’s key market strategy is differentiation through evidence-based healthcare, as Fiely explains:
“We have a good point of difference in this market, as we focus on evidence-based services. We partner with traditional medicine, which is just starting to realize the benefit of alternative healthcare. For example, the Annals of Internal Medicine recently published an article on acupuncture being a more effective remedy for seasonal allergies than antihistamines alone.”
Customer AnneMarie T.’s Yelp review demonstrates that she experienced Aligned’s evidence-based approach:
“I received a thorough evaluation from Danielle that included not only x-rays, but a complete explanation of the x-rays and how my ‘infrastructure’ was causing issues for me. The focus of AMH is not just chiropractic adjustment but includes other ways to help improve spinal health, such as massage and stretching/strengthening exercises to loosen my extremely tight muscles.”
A quick scroll through the company’s Yelp reviews seems representative of its target consumer base. Customers appreciate Aligned’s emphasis on both traditional and alternative medicine (or, as the company describes it, “evidence-based”), as seen in customer Lauren F’s review:
“What is different here at Aligned Modern Health from other chiropractors I've been to is that here it is not just a quick ‘crack-and-go.’ They actually walk you through stretches and exercises to help you get better and fix the underlying problem, similar to [how] a physical therapist would. They also have massage therapists on hand to help with stretch or to work out any tight areas you might have.”
As with most successful brands, Aligned has carefully defined its consumer target.
Aligned’s target consumers are open-minded, working professionals 25-50 years old. They take a proactive approach to their health care, and there is a female skew. Aligned’s female skew is consistent with my experience working with large-scale quantitative research segmentation studies in healthcare, where we consistently found that women are more likely to be proactive than men. And in families with children under 18 present, the mother is often “Dr. Mom,” responsible for the family’s medical appointments.
With its clear target, branding that delivers the brand’s promise in its name, and clearly differentiated market strategy, Aligned Modern Health seems poised to ride the tailwinds of the growing alternative healthcare market. This is a good case study for how a company can succeed in a competitive and fragmented market by employing a solid, targeted market and business strategy.