How brands can tap into the wellness economy

Written by: Vicky Bullen, CEO

Wellness is a growth opportunity for brands to leverage or stretch into but they must act with credibility and authenticity.

Wellness is a growth opportunity for brands to leverage or stretch into but they must act with credibility and authenticity.

As featured in Campaign Live

Pandemic stress, anxiety and burnout have weakened people’s resilience, heightened their need for self-care and happiness and changed how they frame wellness for good.

Wellness used to be defined as a state of good health, being active or eating nutritiously, but has transformed into a more holistic idea of resilience, harmony and purpose.

Some 80% of consumers said they are prioritising wellness beyond health and food, according to The Wellness Gap Report from Ogilvy Health.

The report showed 52% of consumers expect cars, banks or airlines to offer wellness options, 75% said brands could do more to make wellness easier for their customers to achieve and 73% expected them to embrace wellness as part of their core mission.

The global wellness market was estimated at more than $1.5tn in 2021, with annual growth of five to 10% (McKinsey).

This gives brands an opportunity, but consumers can easily spot marketing ploys. Therefore brands need to avoid wellness-washing and find a credible role to play.

For companies looking to stretch into the wellness space on the right foot, here are two tips.

1. Make the wellness move that is right for your brand

As the wellness economy grows and new players enter the sector, there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

For those brands where wellness isn’t an obvious, expected fit to them, wellness characteristics can be embodied into day-to-day brand behaviours like sourcing, packaging, service development or the employer brand experience.

Considering how a wellness lens might influence the customer journey is the first step towards the wellness gold mine. For example, homeware and gifts ecommerce site Department Store for the Mind allows shoppers to browse products according to emotional states, such as creative, anxious – or even unhinged.

In the effort to elevate beauty as a path to mental well-being, self-esteem and social connection, the filler brand Juvéderm has reframed beauty as no longer something to chase but something people can choose, focusing on “attitude over pretty”, and using that to inspire its most recent brand campaign.

Partnerships are another way for brands to grab the wellness opportunity with confidence. Knowing finances are many people’s number one stress factor, HSBC embraced the wellness mindset by launching the online HSBC Financial Wellness Centre with Everfi, a leading education innovator technology partner. The platform, also available to non-clients, covers everything from banking basics to retirement planning and financial caregiving.

2. Make wellness accessible and sustainable

The pandemic has exacerbated the health and wellness gap at global scale: according to a 2020 study in China, France, Mexico, Turkey, UK and the US, 23% of consumers said they struggle to maintain a healthy diet, with 80% of this group citing affordability as their biggest hurdle (CGF, 2020). Primary barriers preventing consumers from purchasing healthier products are price, a lack of clear product information, availability in stores, and products not tasting good or working well (Alixpartners, 2021).

But global market research firm Ipsos predicts that healthy living will be a priority for all consumers and brands that will allow them to increase healthy habits will gain interest. This means brands should start to think about how best they can play their part to smash barriers to access.

Consumers are thinking about wellness in a holistic way that includes the impact that their choices have beyond individual physical or mental benefits. They expect to make a choice without compromise, meaning wellness brands need to balance being good value for money, good for the consumer and good for the environment. Tesco ticked all three boxes at once, when it recently decided to slash the prices of dozens of products in its own brand range Plant Chef, aiming to democratise and reduce barriers to entry for plant-based food.

Brands and influencers are encouraging consumers to embrace more sustainable habits by combining thriftiness with ethics and values and one such hook is to leverage a wellness proposition in the war against waste. Ikea’s recent collaboration with 10 super chefs led to the creation of The ScrapsBook, a free downloadable book filled with 50 resourceful recipes using all kinds of kitchen scraps from banana peel to chopped vegetables ends (and allowing a seamless plug for the brand’s tableware items).

Succeeding in the 2022 wellness economy 

This year will bring huge commercial opportunities from the wellness wave emerge across a wide range of sectors and consumer experiences. Ultimately, winning people’s hearts and minds will come down to striking a balance between wellness, accessibility and sustainability. Finding the most authentic way for brands to make wellness central to their propositions or building it into their experiences will accelerate growth and cement consumer loyalty.