And now for a tacky plug for a new diabetes product that I'm liking. I just switched to the Freestyle Flash meter and so far, it's fabulous. It's small, quick, more accurate than my last meter, less painful to use. I know I'm probably the last person on earth to try it, but at a recent visit to my diabetes clinic, I was given one to try. Which I did and now I'm convinced. Love it (though of course, I hate the bag it comes in, which is no big surprise to anyone who has read my rantings about the sad state of diabetes accessories, but that's another post for another time). As I said, I really like my new meter, so much so, that now I wish I'd switched sooner...
Which highlights a key problem, as I see it, in the product to consumer relationship in the world of diabetes. I'm not sure I have a viable answer to the issue, but regardless, the way we find out about new diabetes products feels weird in this culture of heightened consumer targeting that we live in. In the diabetes world, new products are shown to us by a nurse at a clinic (always a fun "retail" environment) or found at a pharmacy (again, not the most exciting shopping experience). Either that or we hear about stuff from an occasional ad on tv. Or at a diabetes fair, which by the way, has never inspired frequent attendance on my part. "Oh honey! Let's spend this Saturday at the diabetes fair, OK?" I know, bad attitude on my part, but it's still the truth. Frankly, the most positive advancement in the world of diabetes commerce in my mind, has been the advent of smart blogs like diabetes mine, which have fundamentally changed the landscape for exposure and straight diabetic product feedback. That wonderful blog alone, has helped me the most in the my own research process of finding out what new products to try and buy.
But all told, we're not exactly talking about the diabetes shopping equivalent to the Nordstroms or Barney's retail experience.
I know that diabetes meters and pumps aren't the same as clothes or electronics or food, but regardless, it'd be great if trying them out didn't have to be such a clinical process. To start, the product itself isn't necessarily something I want to "shop" for, so how the stuff is introduced and sold to me, is that much more important. Maybe I have low expectations about how I will get my new products, because it's the only way I've ever experienced it, more as a medical proposition rather than a consumer one. Or maybe it's a different issue altogether. Maybe the market itself is just too small to warrant a different way of selling. Who knows exactly why things are the way they are. Maybe this is as good as it can get.
But wait. Regardless of any of that, we're still the consumers in this paradigm, and as such, we should be spoken to, reached, informed (heck, even romanced) like any other consumer demographic who has money to spend. It shouldn't take my wonderful nurse, pulling down a box from of a crowded shelf, in a windowless, florescent lit room, to get me to switch to my new, sassy meter. I like what the site instahealth says about us deserving "as much dignity as, and perhaps even more than, consumers elsewhere get everyday". In truth, we are a bit of a captive audience regarding the diabetes products we need to stay healthy. Having said that, it doesn't mean we can't expect more from the people who build, design and sell the stuff we have to buy. I do think it's fair to start expecting a little bit more.
And that's really the point here. Not consumerism or retail or slick marketing. The point is about expecting more because for a long time, we've had to take whatever products or design or communication we can get. I really don't think anyone sets out to make us feel "less than", but rather, it's a result of a history of being looked as sick or ill, rather than being whole with diabetes. There is a logical legacy of having the context be medical. But I think things are changing. I think the blogsphere for one, is a big part of that change. Even a catalyst. In the short time I've interacted with the OC, I've seen a shift in the tone of a lot of what I read, as well as what I feel and think inside myself. Yes, there are the known diabetes struggles or milestones or products being discussed, recounted and supported. All revelations unto themselves, as well as for me in particular, because I've felt alone with diabetes for so long. But now too, I get to hear others voices as they become stronger, or overcome some diabetes challenge and in turn, am emboldened myself. There is a collective voice here and from my little corner of the world, I can really hear the compounding strength of it's pride and sense of dignity. At the end of the day, that's a good thing, for us as individuals, consumers and also diabetics. It's even good for all the people and companies who make the products we need to buy. Or the people that are searching for a cure. Or the government that is, or is not, funding promising research for a cure. Yep, I do think it's fair to start asking for and expecting a little bit more consideration as people. People and consumers and voters, who also happen to have diabetes.