How might we create culturally tailored resources to bridge the gap in current health applications and guidance, enabling actionable solutions that align with users' unique dietary preferences and lifestyle practices? This initiative aims to enhance the management of prevalent health conditions and promote overall well-being.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Ontario underscores a pressing health concern — individuals of South Asian or Black descent in Ontario are reported to be three times (3x) more likely to suffer from hypertension than the general population, often experiencing its onset at a younger age (Liu et al., 2011). Despite their eagerness to embark on a health journey, individuals from these backgrounds frequently encounter a dearth of resources, be it nutritional or lifestyle guidance, and applications tailored to their specific needs. In a recent study by Cathcart (2022), European and Indian dishes were better recognized (greater than 70%) across all apps compared to West African and Latin American dishes. This stark lack of tailored support leaves members of the BIPOC community feeling disoriented, confused and demotivated to pursue their health and wellness goals.
User Pain Points
- Current apps lack features to track ethnic cuisine dishes, limiting the user's ability to monitor and manage meals aligned with their cultural preferences during weight loss efforts. The user is reluctant to sacrifice flavorful meals.
- Individuals with busy schedules may find it challenging to prepare fresh meals, often resorting to fast food options due to time constraints. A desire exists for a tool providing quick and easy recipe ideas tailored to cultural diets.
- Users are concerned about the abundance of information, often contradictory, available from various sources. They express a need for a personalized tool to provide reliable suggestions and recommendations for nutrition ideas and exercise routines.
- Users face struggles with maintaining consistent exercise habits and express a wish for opportunities to diversify their routines through potential partnerships with others.
To delve deeper into this problem space, a survey and user interviews were conducted, engaging with 38 respondents and 6 interviewees, respectively.
The research revealed that approximately
- 60% of respondents have a family history of hypertension or diabetes.
- Notably, 90% strongly believe that personalized guidance and resources tailored to their unique cultural backgrounds would be beneficial.
- Moreover, 80% of respondents described facing constant challenges while trying to develop a healthy lifestyle, citing issues such as time constraints, contradictory information, cost concerns, cultural roots influencing eating habits, and the struggle to balance cravings.
- Finally, around 70% of respondents expressed their willingness to consider using an application that caters specifically to their unique cultural and lifestyle dietary needs.
Landing on the Solution
Based on our target users' pain points, we knew we wanted to work on the following features in Ilera—an innovative health app crafted to revolutionize personal well-being. Utilizing cutting-edge algorithms, Ilera takes a personalized approach, understanding users' health habits, taste preferences, and cultural backgrounds. This approach results in curated suggestions for culturally sensitive recipes, personalized vitamin and mineral recommendations, and tailored exercise plans. What sets Ilera apart is its commitment to empowering users from the BIPOC community, offering unique, user-centric solutions that enable individuals to take charge of their health journey. In response to ongoing user feedback, we continuously refine Ilera to address the evolving needs of our diverse user base, with exciting future features outlined on our roadmap to further enhance the overall well-being experience
Explanation of Solution
Ilera allows users to select their preferred mood for food, offering 3-5 meal prep suggestions based on taste preferences, cultural inclinations, and personalized nutritional needs. The app boasts a repository of 1000+ culturally sensitive recipes, making it a comprehensive culinary companion. Ilera also provides tailored exercise plans grounded in users' health histories, ensuring safe and effective workout options for individuals with preexisting health conditions.
Backed by research studies, Ilera offers personalized suggestions for vitamin and mineral intake, enhancing the nutritional aspect of the user experience. Users can also track calorie intake and search for any ethnic food, contributing to a comprehensive and individualized dietary record.
In essence, Ilera doesn't just offer a health app; it presents a holistic, culturally sensitive, and user-centric solution that redefines the approach to personal well-being.
I plan on stretching myself to develop this product even if it is not something I have done previously. This product idea came from a personal problem I had encountered for years. Exploring this problem space helped me solidify the jobs to be done (JTBD) and create a nexus between their pain points and how my product provides solutions.
Product Manager Learnings:
The process of completing this Co.Lab program has been an amazing one. A crucial highlight for me was crafting the user personas. It's more than just demographics; it's a compelling narrative about our target users. These personas illuminate their challenges, creating a nexus between their pain points and how our product provides solutions. As a product manager, aligning with user needs and keeping the focus on the customer is paramount. This ensures your customers not only recognize the problem but also feel connected to the solution. This simple yet profound idea reinforced the significance of understanding our users' perspectives.