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By David Mendosa

Last Update: February 15, 1999

Some cultures prize conformity. A common Japanese expression is Deru kugi wa utareru "Deru kugi wa utareru," literally "The nail that sticks out gets pounded down." The implication is that if you do anything different from the rest, you'll be punished.

‘Be average—Avoid the highs and lows.’

That's not an expression you will hear often in the United States. We tend to value the opposing virtue, individuality. We are more likely to say, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease." That is, you will be rewarded for speaking out.

So why does LifeScan Inc. want us to be average? The company has seven new downloadable brochures on its popular LifeScan Web site promoting this apparently un-American concept.

LifeScan admits that "in most cases, average is just average." But when it comes to your blood glucose levels, average is excellent, it says. Avoid the highs and lows.

The best way to get good averages is to test regularly. Test around meals, around exercise, and around medication. Only with frequent tests can you know how you are doing so that you can make the necessary course corrections.

It's clear why LifeScan would care. With 40 to 45 percent of the blood glucose meter market, according to Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Joon Kim, LifeScan will continue to do well by doing good.

The company is especially proud of its Be Average pages, says Colleen Cox, LifeScan's marketing Web site manager. Indeed, it has every right to have that pride.

Anything but average, these pages are excellent. You can read these beautifully designed, colorful, and well-written brochures in PDF format with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. Launched in August 1996, the site has grown in popularity. While Ms. Cox won't say how many visitors it gets, she says that it is comparable with the two largest sites—this one and Children with Diabetes.

After the United States, most visitors come from Canada, she says. "That's why we launched LifeScan Canada in March 1998." That site offers its pages in either English or French. LifeScan's self-care area, which includes the Be Average brochures, is the best area of the site, Ms. Cox says. "It has extensive tips and other information for people with diabetes. Most of the other manufacturer's sites don't have this. We get the most compliments about it."

They get quite a bit of customer feedback, she says. "It's mostly from people looking for something and coming to the Web site and finding it, pleased that they can get it so quickly."

The LifeScan site, of course, does not fail to describe its products, including its FastTake, SureStep, One Touch Profile, and One Touch Basic meters. Noted for extraordinary customer service, LifeScan rightly promotes its 24-hour, 365-day availability in a separate section of the site.

Because the site has been around for so long, LifeScan is now working on a facelift. Ms. Cox expects the new design to be on-line by mid-year.

Altogether, here is one excellent site that is not shy about its individuality. It's anything but average. 

The American Diabetes Association originally published this article on its Web site as one of my “About the Internet” columns.

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