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How brands are tapping into wellness culture

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We’re turning toward businesses to help us look after ourselves by fostering better physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing.

In a nutshell

  1. The pandemic has renewed our focus on health and wellbeing.
  2. Business are leaning in by making health technology easy and accessible and keeping product marketing simple.
  3. Wellness ingredients in food and fashion are also trending, as is promotion of sex positivity.

The pandemic created a shift in what we value. Now more than ever, we are placing more importance on our health and wellbeing.

With this renewed focus, more of us are turning to businesses and organisations to find simple ways to feel comfortable, happy and healthy.

Health companies are combining service and ease with technology to improve wellbeing

Health companies are working hard to deliver services that better suit people’s needs - and one way they're doing this is through technology. 

Technology offers both the opportunity to reach more people with services, and the chance to create stronger connections between the service and the people they serve.

We can see this in action with Triton Hearing, which offers free virtual hearing consultations. This is an advantage for rural people and those who prefer not to drive.

If people do come to Triton Hearing in person, they will experience a clinic fit-out that seems more like a high-tech speaker store than a traditional hearing-aid clinic. This was done deliberately to help combat some of the association between hearing health and growing older. Instead, the modern fit-out positions buying hearing aids as an investment in modern technology - a much more palatable concept to many.

Another example is Kuīni, a chatbot that helps Māori women quit smoking by sending them witty content throughout the day via Facebook Messenger. The chatbot, available 24/7, helps to answer customer’s questions but also enriches their lives with helpful information and inspiration. It's another great example of how brands can leverage technology to better serve people and communities.

Brands are taking a no-frills approach to support financial wellbeing

Brands providing everyday products in straightforward or affordable ways are showing they care about their customers’ needs - including their financial wellbeing. 

Indulgent purchases can be hard to make in this economy. For people concerned with taking care of their financial wellbeing, less is more. As Kim Kardashian says in a video promoting her new wireless earbud products, “life is so crazy, everything else should be really simple.”

We are seeing this trend towards simplicity and financial value play out across health, beauty and clothing brands. Canadian skin care brand The Ordinary has a no-frills approach to skincare with plain packaging with the ingredients clearly stated on the label. This minimalism can signal that your product is good value for money, providing quality for all budgets.

Cotton On heroes the humble clothes many of us wear daily. Positioning the brand’s range as ‘wardrobe staples’ and offering the same item in different colours helps people shop smarter. Framing goods as functional and versatile shows consideration for the needs of your customer base. This is a clear demonstration of how winning in retail means helping people maximise simplicity through savvy purchasing.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Chemist Warehouse leans into bright, maximalist branding. In-store, shelf space is crowded, with discount stickers everywhere you turn – a bargain hunter’s paradise. Chemist Warehouse is an outlier within the category as loud, colourful and cluttered where its competitors tend to be sterile, sparse and minimalist. They have made an impact by zigging where others are zagging and have made smaller operators nervous with a rapid expansion. This shows that there is no one-rule-fits-all: if your product is at an affordable price, your shopfront could reflect that.

Health food brands are boosting biome and bacteria for better wellbeing

The pandemic made us alert to the need to stay healthy. Now we’re making decisions about what we consume based on our understanding of the physical, emotional and cognitive benefits they provide us. For brands, this provides an opportunity to enhance existing products with the addition of health-boosting ingredients.

There has been a change in the role of bacteria and biomes in our lives. The company Mushroom Packaging produces shipping materials out of mycelium and hemp hurds that compost within 30 days when added to soil, deterring companies from using plastic and polystyrene.

Organic products are believed to have more nutrients as a result of the healthy, resilient, biome rich soil they are grown in, according to researchers at Cornell University. Organic products feature prominently on the drinks menu at the upmarket grocery store Erewhon. While the purchase price may not be within every customer’s reach, they can be positioned as a way to upsell healthy eating habits, having more flavour and benefiting the wider community. Erewhon has a partnership with a homeless shelter in Downtown Los Angeles, donating leftovers to maximise on the ‘feel good’ effect customers have when they buy organic.

Brands are also using social channels to talk about health foods, and the results show such messaging can boost your followers’ trust and connection to your brand. Instagram’s head of fashion partnerships Eva Chen shared her matcha lemonade recipe on the platform which was a hit with followers. Matcha is thought to increase good bacteria and has quickly gained popularity. Weaving similar products with a ‘health halo’ into your communications can show how your brand centres people’s wellbeing.

Brands are celebrating sex positivity in broader terms than before

While such topics have been previously seen as risqué, celebrations of sex and sexuality are becoming more overt.

Despite having nothing to do with sex, Pics Peanut Butter made the playful double-entendre ‘Nutting to it’ in its campaign about the product having no additives, signalling a carefree attitude about masturbation. The campaign goes against the grain of other FMCG brand campaigns - but it paid off. While some brands may want to approach the topic with caution, if done right it can successfully capture attention in a crowded market.

The Durex campaign ‘challenge the norms’ took Durex from just a condom brand to a prosocial company. The campaign used Durex' platform in the market to advocate for healthy relationships and sexual health checks, as well as the prioritisation of female pleasure. By doing this, the brand demonstrated how to stay in step with cultural change while continuing to meet customer's needs.

Modern Fertility offers at-home kits that allow users to understand their reproductive health. The US brand also promotes queer relationships and polls its online community on taboo topics, like talking about kids on a first date. Asking questions about topics that matter to customers is a masterclass in how to engage in a meaningful way.

There is ample attention to gain for brands that take a healthy attitude to the topic of sexuality. By increasing conversations and breaking down taboos around sex, brands actively in this space are making it clear they’re in favour of increased wellness and enriched relationships.

People are looking for businesses to do more to improve their quality of life.

This could mean helping them feel good, save money, look after their health or maintain happy relationships.

While the rising cost of living may deter people from spending, brands can create appeal on an emotional level and build loyalty by paying attention to health, wellness and wellbeing.

headshot of Carl Sarney, Head of Strategy at TRA
Carl Sarney
Head of Strategy at TRA
Carl has 20 years of insight industry experience. He is specialised in brand and comms strategy with a proven history of effective work for his clients, including several gold awards for advertising effectiveness. His research work has taken him to just about every town in New Zealand to speak with people from all walks of life. He's also conducted qualitative research in eight more countries while based in London for two years and spent seven years as an ad agency planner before joining TRA in 2018.

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