Posted: November 22, 2019

From the roots of the disruptive Medical Savings Account to the digital branches of the world’s first behavioral bank lies a question. A question serving as the yardstick on which every major decision is measured – every innovation, every brand, and every product. It’s the golden thread, a monolithic mandate breathing life into the ever-expanding ecosystem that is the Discovery brand. Discovery’s purpose is to make people healthier, to enhance and protect their lives.

Established in 1992, Discovery has a proud history of being a force for social good as a thought leader in areas of healthcare, wellness, life insurance, short-term insurance, investments, and finance.Operating in the form the of the organization’s award-winning businesses; Discovery Health, Discovery Life, Discovery Invest, Discovery Insure, and Discovery Bank – the newest addition to the brand. Underpinning all of this is Vitality – a world-leading, scientific and incentivized wellness programme that encourages its members to get healthier through knowledge, application and rewards.Vitality encompasses a unique Shared-Value business model benefiting all stakeholders – a healthier member base means lower health care costs and generation of actuarial surplus that could be fed back to members in the form of rewards; and to society in the form of a healthier and happier population.

Having a positive impact on society is not merely a marketing or branding or even CSI exercise, but a critical business requirement and responsibility. It’s a purpose. Research from the Oxford Health Alliance – the 3-4-50 model –reveals that three poor human behaviours (smoking, poor nutrition and a lack of exercise), lead to four diseases (cancer, diabetes, lung and heart disease) resulting in over 50 percent of deaths worldwide. Key to addressing this model has been a personification of the heritage within Discovery. One that stretches beyond wellness and rewards. A heritage of positive lifestyle behaviour, and the belief that a minor change in our daily habits has a major impact on the well being of ourselves and society at large.

Synonymous with the heritage of South Africa, Discovery’s optimism with progress as a society is reflected in its extensive engagement in developing technology that aims to improving the lives of clients and communities. The complexities of the South African environment only served as an incubator for innovation. Discovery’s heritage first manifested over 25 years ago when Adrian Gore saw a way to disrupt the existing medical scheme market by empowering members to take charge of their day-to-day medical expenses, through the mechanism of a medical savings account.

Today, Discovery sees its heritage live in areas well beyond the health sector. In 2011, Discovery Insure launched Vitality Drive, an incentive based programme that rewards good driving, with the purpose of creating a nation of better drivers. In 2018, Discovery Bank was launched, a fully digitized and behavioural bank offering innovative solutions to South Africa’s growing personal debt epidemic.

At large, South Africans experience three big financial conditions that lead to a lack of financial health – inability to deal with unplanned expenses, having debt that is expensive and unsustainable, and not being prepared for retirement. These problems, however, can be addressed through five simple lifestyle behavioural changes at an individual level, namely spending less than you earn, saving regularly, insurance for adverse events, paying off property, and investing for the long-term. Through this understanding, Vitality Money is introduced with the aim of making people financially healthier by rewarding their positive financial decisions.

It is through this holistic view of health that Discovery found itself among one of South Africa’s strongest and most trusted brands, but perhaps most impressive is the number of massive international insurers that are adopting Discovery’s heritage and IP of dynamic risk pricing based on member health behaviour. To date, the Vitality product operates with Ping An (China), myOwn (Australia), AIA (Pan Asia), Generali (Europe), Vitality USA and John Hancock (USA), Manulife (Canada), Sumitomo Life (Japan), most recently IGI Life (Pakistan) and for the first time in the South American market Saludsa and Equivida (Ecuador). In the UK, Discovery owns Vitality Life, Vitality Health, and Vitality Invest, one of the leading PMI and life insurance providers, and making significant inroads in long-term investment products. Trusted by over 10 million Vitality clients, and over 20 million clients across six continents,Brand Finance recently names Discovery the 2nd strongest insurance brand in the world.

Further testament to the group’s passion and commitment towards its core purpose is Discovery’s Corporate Social Investments.The Discovery Foundation – a 10-year programme that invests in medical education and training to benefit the public sector – has invested nearly R200 million in grants and issued over 400 awards to healthcare specialists and institutions in South Africa, extending the Discovery philosophy to more South Africans and contributing to the future health and well being of South Africa.

With innovation at its heart, Discovery’s purpose and heritage is an undertaking that the company is serious about delivering, the motivation behind its many ventures; with the notion that in business, it’s not always necessarily about those making millions, but it’s about the millions just trying to make it. Bringing forth the question to brands and businesses alike, will it make people healthier?