Catering to the Health-Conscious Consumer

Without a health kick, can brands still thrive?

Health and wellness have boomed into a lucrative industry. The Global Wellness Institute put its value at over $3.7 trillion in 2015, meaning it represents more than 5 percent of all global economic output. Consumers are making their physical and mental health a priority. They are better informed, better educated and more empowered than ever before, and this has transformed the way they engage with brands and businesses.

This shift in perspective from wellness as a singular goal to a lifestyle habit has resulted in 62% of consumers aged 18-34 believing that all brands will need a wellness component to survive in the future (Deep Focus). This message has clearly been heard. Despite being in an era of uncertainty and disruption, businesses across all industries are expanding their offerings to meet unprecedented growth in the wellness economy. Most recently, Coca-Cola confirmed that it is ‘closely watching’ the potential growth of ‘cannabis-based ingredients’ as an ingredient in functional wellness beverages—which shows how even the most unlikely brands are willing to take bold and risky steps to exploit the expanding wellness market.

A slice of the wellness pie

A recent Deloitte survey found that 88 percent of companies introduced products that had been formulated or reformulated to support healthier diets and lifestyles. The number of companies that reformulated products to reduce salt and sugar levels had also increased by 12 percent from the previous year.

Brands are fully aware of the need to innovate, but how can they keep up with the fast-paced consumer demand for healthier lifestyles?

No. 1: Time to reposition?

For some, keeping up with consumer demand means repositioning their brand. This is something that Kellogg’s new strategy aims to do with Special K by shaking off old fashioned perceptions of the brand as a dieting option, which for years featured the iconic red swimsuit in its ads. To stay relevant, it now focuses on Special K’s health credentials and highlights how a positive attitude to nutrition can power women’s lives.

No. 2: Collaboration is the next big thing

Partnering with MyFitnessPal, Nectar and body image experts Body Positive, Kellogg’s also plans to provide useful app tools to help consumers stay healthy and track their daily food intake. These collaborations enable the brands to validate each other’s offering and reinforce the subtle but important change in emphasis for Special K’s more modern, health focused female audience.

Other collaborations may seem less obvious but enable brands to gain traction with a wider audience and take their approach to market faster than might ordinarily be the case. For instance, IKEA is partnering with Adidas to understand what wellness means to different people and what role their living spaces play in this. Exploring how they can adapt to help create healthy habits aims to continue the Scandi homeware brand’s ‘wonderful everyday’ proposition, but from an entirely new perspective, building positive association and opening up new storytelling opportunities.

No. 3: Authenticity = Credibility

For other brands, catering to the health-conscious consumer is proving a trickier path to tread.

According to Nielsen, sharing the why and how behind the products has become as important as the product itself. Beyond required label content, consumers want detailed insights into brand values, how the product was sourced and production practices. As a result, a brand’s focus on transparency is a major factor in the decision-making process, with 68% of consumers saying they are willing to pay more for food and beverages that are ‘natural’, ‘organic’ or dairy free.

Earlier this year, Starbucks released its new dairy free iced coffee. While heralded as dairy-free, the product also packed an astonishing five teaspoons of sugar. If marketers don’t offer up this level of information and authenticity, consumers will seek it out elsewhere, putting brands in a vulnerable position where third parties end up owning the narrative.

No.4: A meaningful work ethic

Brands are no longer made by advertising alone, but by customer experiences and the creation of relationships that display the true meaning of a brand’s intentions. This doesn’t just have to be about the overt implementation of a wellness product or service. Unions have started to call for the introduction of a four-day week on the grounds that AI and machine learning capabilities can ease workloads, leading to reduced stress, better mental health and happier workforces. Transforming the way we work will create whole new categories of consumer needs for brands to cater to, based on the desire for flexibility, the pursuit of well being, and the quest for self-improvement.

Red Bull has already begun tapping into this trend  by introducing their ‘National 4pm Finish day’ and encouraging other companies to allow employees to finish early. This enabled it to position the energy drink as the fuel that enhances productivity, so that people can “get down to more important business, like enjoying the weekend” faster.

Conclusion

From anti-aging potions made from plant extracts to technology that monitors all of the calories burned and consumed in the course of a day, brands that will succeed in this industry will be those that can demonstrate a real understanding of their consumers’ individual needs. This is what builds a level of trust that ensures customers keep coming back, believing that this is a brand that truly cares about their fitness, health, appearance, and overall well-being. To cater to the wellness market, companies must remain close to their customers, leveraging all the available tools, from data science to social media, to understand and meet their evolving needs.

Insights in this article were taken from Jaywing’s Health and Wellness Supplement

Maria Vardy

Managing Director at Jaywing

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