Apple running deeper into our daily lives with the Aetna health app

by | Feb 3, 2019 | Gamification, Loyalty Psychology

Apple and Aetna have announced they’ve teamed up on a new app for the Apple Watch to help track and reward healthy behaviour. The Attain by AetnaTM app combines a user’s health history with their Apple Watch® activity to offer personalised goals, achievable actions and rewards. It’s with this personalisation, rather than a one-size-fits-all strategy, that they’re hoping to find success where others companies have failed.

From a loyalty psychology perspective, the app features rewards mechanisms like challenges, goals, reminders, progress tracking, real-time rewards and the unlocking of discounts which work together to drive deep engagement with both the rewards program and the brand operating it.

Users of Attain earn points for hitting their individual health goals, whether it’s for sleep, nutrition, exercise, weight or more. Users can use their points towards a new Apple Watch, offset the cost of their current Apple Watch over a 24-month period, spend on gift cards from a range of popular retailers or donate to charity.

To partake in this pilot of 250,000-300,000 participants, register here. The plan is for the Attain program to be scaled to all of Aetna’s 22.1 million members in the near future.

Overall, the program fits within successful loyalty program principals including being simple, emotional, gamified, delightful and differentiated, and also brings some obvious benefits to each party:

What are the benefits to Apple & Aetna?

  • More consumers using their products
  • Daily/hourly engagement with the brands/products
  • Corporate responsibility and well-being alignment

What is questionable here?

You would think that the ability for these companies to gain data and valuable customer insights would also be listed as a benefit due to the ability to monetise the program. However, both Apple and Aetna confirm that the collected data will not be used to determine premiums, won’t be shared by employees, and will never be sold. Data sharing is explicitly opt-in, and all data is encrypted not just at rest, but in transit.

Sounds very suspect!

What else will the data be used for? Why aren’t they monetising the program? Rather, why aren’t they disclosing their plans to monetise the program? How long will the promise to not on-sell data or use data for their own financial gain last?

We’ve studied many similar programs amongst companies including Samsung Health, Qantas Assure, Youi, Fitsense and AIA Vitality who have built success by openly using the data they’ve collected about the customer to make decisions on their product offerings, coverage and more.

I find it hard to believe this is solely a wellness activity from Apple and Aetna and always will be. Their punchline is “health is the real win”, however I question whether this is a huge future revenue stream disguised as a well-being service. I suspect that future iterations of the app will not carry this same promise around data, where the new clause will be sunken deep within the T’s and C’s – but only time will tell.


Stacey has a wealth of experience within loyalty, marketing and eCommerce across multiple channels and business models including Boost JuiceModelCo and MyHouse. Most recently, Stacey has been managing the investor, member and retailer communications for blockchain loyalty company EZToken Rewards, as well as taking the lead on designing, developing, implementing and operationalising Resident Rewards, a new member benefits program for Lendlease.

Stacey is a proud pioneer of women in blockchain and attends meet-ups regularly. She built the website and regularly contributes content.

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