Chemicals make up the material backbone of products in commerce—from couches and carpets to the clothes we wear. While chemicals serve an important role in our economy, we know that some widely used chemicals harm our health. Unfortunately, we have surprisingly little understanding of what we’re exposed to and at what level.
A new category of technologies entering the market may change the status quo: personal chemical exposure monitors (PCEMs). These technologies are a new entrant in the rapidly growing “monitored-self” market, joining a suite of available products designed to help people monitor and understand their individual health—from home-delivered kits that screen for genetic conditions to heart rate-monitoring watches.
To accelerate and inform the efforts of PCEM technology developers, investors and other stakeholders, we conducted, with support from Eastern Research Group, Inc., a first-of-its-kind landscape assessment of the market demand for technologies capable of detecting an individual’s exposure to harmful chemicals.
What we did
To help characterize and quantify the existing demand for PCEMs, EDF:
- Surveyed 616 individuals about their willingness to pay for PCEMs and the device features that matter most to them through a choice experiment.
- Conducted 16 expert interviews with stakeholders across the PCEM supply chain—ranging from investors and technology developers to industrial hygienists and potential institutional customers—to better understand the market challenges and opportunities that exist for these products.
The willingness to pay (WTP) choice experiment found a clear market for PCEM devices among general consumers:
- The highest WTP value for a single surveyed hypothetical device was $459.
- Nearly 40 surveyed hypothetical devices had a WTP between $100 and $300—a price range reflective of the actual price of other personal monitoring devices on the market today.
- Device features that consumers valued the most include getting data on a large number of chemicals and receiving immediate results.
Experts affirmed the demand for PCEMs both among consumers and in the workplace monitoring sector, identified future opportunities for PCEMs, and proposed solutions for existing and anticipated challenges in the marketplace.
Done well, a device that provides information about the chemicals in our daily life will change consumer habits. If you can capture that change, you can monetize it.Marty Mulvihill, Safer Made, a venture capital firm
Our research shows that demand for PCEMs exists today, and we anticipate the demand to increase over time given the expanding market for health and wellness technologies and rising concerns about chemicals in the environment. Entrepreneurs who can bring viable personal chemical monitoring products into commerce have an incredible opportunity to claim part of a large and rapidly growing health and wellness market.