PICS, Inc. specializes in developing products that address major health issues such as insomnia, tobacco addiction, obesity, hypertension, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes. Products are targeted to the end-user directly (through television and other consumer channels) and indirectly (through employers, insurance agencies, and diet/fitness companies), and to the professional community.
Consumer Market: Primary insomnia affects 10 to 15% of the American population or 25 to 30 million people. Primary insomnia is mainly caused by psychological factors, such as stress and inconsistent sleep schedule, etc. The direct economic impact from insomnia is estimated at over $10 billion annually, with total economic costs of nearly $100 billion annually.
Moreover, sleep-related accidents account for over 23,000 fatalities each year. Most people with insomnia have developed sleep patterns that interfere with their normal sleep cycle. Efforts to get more sleep often result in getting less sleep instead.
Behavioral treatment of insomnia, on which SleepKey is based, is more effective than sleep medications and doesn’t cause problems like morning sedation or drug dependence.
Tobacco addiction is the leading cause of premature death worldwide. Yet in the US and Canada alone, over 50 million people smoke and about 10 million people chew tobacco. These numbers have remained virtually unchanged over the last ten years, in spite of the vigorous anti-tobacco campaigns in both countries.
Moreover, several studies indicate that these numbers are not likely to diminish in the foreseeable future, because the drop in tobacco addiction among adult males is being offset by increased consumption by females and adolescents.
Globally, per capita, tobacco consumption in most industrial countries exceeds the above numbers (e.g. over 50% of Japanese males smoke), and in developing countries all over the world, tobacco consumption is high and rapidly increasing.
The second leading cause of premature death in industrial nations is heart disease and strokes caused by combinations of obesity, elevated cholesterol, hypertension, and diabetes, all of which are weight-related. A third of American adults are overweight (up 25% from 1980) and under-exercised, giving rise to the huge weight loss and fitness industries.
Another third of American adults are at increased risk of coronary heart disease due to cholesterol levels above 200. Yet another third of American adults suffer from hypertension or diabetes.
The first treatment of choice for each of these conditions is dietary intervention. Our DietMate product line conforms to recommended dietary guidelines for treating these disorders. Globally, most industrial nations confront one or more of the above health threats, creating a huge market for PICS’ DietMate product line.
The outlook for the future is even more promising for our products, as many of the developing countries follow in the footsteps of the industrial nations’ stress-induced, sedentary lifestyle that favors the deadly combination of overeating and inactivity.
Institutional Market: Most large employers in North America have been forced to implement restrictive smoking policies because of a combination of legislation, the threat of lawsuits by non-smoking employees, and the desire to contain rising health costs.
Consequently, many of these companies have been offering help to quit smoking to affected employees. Similarly, a growing number of employers have begun offering wellness programs motivated by cost containment considerations.
PICS has been very successful at capturing a large share of this market, including many Fortune 500 companies such as IBM and Johnson & Johnson. Furthermore, insurance companies and HMOs, motivated to invest in prevention tactics, have shown a strong interest in PICS’ product line.
Finally, the commercial diet industry, having been battered by bad publicity, scrutinized by the Federal Trade Commission and forced to back away from its most enticing claims, and assaulted by a new generation of anti-diet gurus, is undergoing a shakeout.
Even the major players realize that they are overdue for a makeover and are scrambling to reposition their offerings. Consistent with well-publicized research, most companies have begun to emphasize general wellness including stress reduction, cholesterol management, and exercise.
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Some are targeting the “forgotten” male dieter (28 million men are obese versus 34 million women) and yet some are looking abroad for new sources of growth. Most importantly to PICS, some diet companies are finally awakening to the inconvenience of the meeting format and are pursuing self-help offerings. PICS is ideally suited to fulfill this vacuum and is actively pursuing many opportunities.
Professional Market: PICS utilizes a combination of its proprietary palm-size computer platform and proprietary Windows-based software to target three professional communities: dietitians and nutritionists, behavioral scientists, and market researchers.
Dietitians and nutritionists are a growing segment of health professionals who need sophisticated tools to facilitate the design, implementation, and tracking of specialized diets. At present, most dietitians have access to adequate software for design purposes, but experience difficulty in communicating the result, frequently complex dietary and exercise regimens to their patients. Reliance on paper and pencil approaches leads to poor patient compliance and difficulties in analyzing outcomes and subsequent intervention.
PICS’ DietMatePro (www.DietMatePro.com) offers an integrated solution that fits the needs of both the professional and their patients. Similarly, behavioral scientists engaged in both patient treatment and scientific research can benefit from PICS’ CERTAS System (www.CERTAS.com). The system facilitates the development of a broad range of data collection protocols on a desktop computer.
Protocols can then be downloaded into palm-top computers for use by patients or research subjects for self-monitoring, and data collected can then be uploaded to a personal computer for analysis. The Professional Marketer System is conceptually similar to the CERTAS System but provides a set of tools developed specifically for the professional market researcher.
Each of the above markets is very large, growing, and international in scope.
PICS positions its products as scientifically proven, technologically state of the art, and benefiting from the convenience and cost-effectiveness of self-help. This positioning carves a unique market niche that is clearly differentiated from its competition, defensible through expensive and time-consuming barriers to entry, and compelling to its target consumers by providing value in easy-to-use packaging.