A few days ago, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles made headlines around the world. Not for her performance at the Games, but for the opposite: a favorite to win the gold in several events, Biles bowed out of a majority of them, citing mental health concerns.
The result has been overwhelming support from the general public and public figures alike. While this may seem like a (happy) surprise, for those who have been watching social and marketing trends, it’s only natural.
In the past, advertisers and marketers promoted “winning” and being “the best”. Now, brands are discovering that consumers want something else: a focus on wellness.
Earlier this year, a Forbes article explored this phenomenon in-depth. Citing a survey by Oglivy, the article reports that for 77% of global consumers, wellness is “important” or even “extremely important.” The survey also found that 73% of consumers consider wellness to be a “must” in a brand’s mission.
Interestingly, the article reveals that the definition of “wellness” itself has also evolved. In addition to physical and mental health, the term now includes social well-being - that is, a healthy way of interacting with others. This explains why more than half of the Oglivy survey’s respondents wanted brands to make them feel connected to a community.
While this new focus may seem overwhelming to some brands, Marion McDonald, a global health and wellness expert working for Oglivy, sees it as a source of opportunity. Consumers may increasingly call for an aspect of wellness in brand advertising, but the wider concept of wellness means there are more ways for brands to seize the opportunity.
However they do it, though, it seems that wellness marketing often goes hand in hand with the internet. For instance, many brands may promote things like mental health and physical health initiatives through their social media. Other brands may spotlight particular causes on their websites.
One recent example of the latter is Adidas’ new TechFit Period Proof tights, which the brand ties in to the fight for equal representation and opportunities in sports. Alongside this new product, Adidas created the Watch Us Move campaign, which encourages women to participate in sports without fear of issues like period leakage.
As an athletic wear brand, you could argue that Adidas was already in the wellness niche, but this new angle shows a more adapted response to what present-day consumers are looking for. Here, wellness not only represents an athletic lifestyle, but also an attention to social issues and an attempt to reach potential consumers who felt underrepresented or overlooked.
It’s a powerful strategy (that luckily also involves a truly positive change in athletic wear) that fits a need for many consumers; according to the Oglivy survey, 75% of consumers want brands to make consumer wellness a priority.
The Forbes article concludes with some helpful advice for brands who are looking to make this shift towards meaningful wellness marketing. Tips include considering wellness a journey, not just a one-and-done solution. For example, brands could feature customer stories or even “follow” several individuals as they better their lives with a product or service.
Another thing the article advises is to focus on community. This could be done by hosting events, offering information, and promoting and sharing stories on social media.
When venturing into this type of marketing, though, sincerity rules. “Many consumers,” wellness PR expert Nicole Donn writes, “can recognize when a brand is simply repeating the language of the wellness industry in an effort to make money and sell more products.” It’s crucial to avoid cliches and to write copy in a sincere, relatable way.
The internet is once again at the heart of seeing what works and what doesn’t, learning which cliches to avoid, and figuring out more about what your target consumer wants. Donn points out that brands looking to shift into wellness marketing should go online and see what people are talking about.
This may even lead to new ways to incorporate wellness into your marketing; for example, many consumers consider environmental issues, organic ingredients, and giving back to the community to be important, as well.
As “wellness” grows in importance and meaning, it’s also growing into ever more marketing opportunities. Best of all, wellness marketing can actually make an impact on consumer well-being. The right campaign may even change someone’s life.