Building Brand Experiences: Leveraging The Growth Of The ‘Betterment’ Trend

  • The growth of the ‘Betterment’ trend has uncovered a real human need
  • Customers today are obsessed with self-development and want brands to understand their individual needs 
  • The key opportunity is creating brand experiences that help customers find a balance between data-driven improvement and holistic betterment
  • Brands that are responding have a real and exciting opportunity to take consumers on this journey
  • What does your ‘journey’ with a customer look like?

In our new column ‘Building Brand Experiences’, we’re teaming up with creative agency Household, to explore how modern wellness businesses can leverage consumer behaviour to create brand stories and experiential points of discovery for customers.

Every month, Household will provide valuable insight into the motivations and changing behaviours of today’s consumer, highlighting the trends that are driving the wellness industry forward, enabling brands to cultivate richer levels of engagement and establish proven commercial success.

This month Household is examining how wellness businesses can leverage the growth of the ‘Betterment’ trend…..

Over the past two years, we have spotted the insistent and extraordinary growth of the ‘Betterment’ trend as a very real human need. Betterment is the desire to do better, be better and feel better, in all areas of life, and increasingly, a want to do more for others, communities and the planet. 

This is the kind of consciousness that is often referred to as being ‘woke’ — and it looks like there’s no going back to how it was before.

Over the next few columns, we’ll unpack and explore this mega trend, provoking ideas around what Betterment means for wellness brands, and why it is a very real pathway to customer’s hearts.

On The Road To ‘Betterment’
In direct contrast to ‘the sleep little, high stress’ caffeine-fuelled culture of previous decades, the shift from prizing busyness to self-care has been driven by millennials raised to prioritise self-development (and of course themselves) over external forces, that they progressively have very little control over. 

More broadly, and in line with this view, the average American spends a whopping 22% of their disposable income on self-care routines (Eventbrite 2018). So personal guidance, advice and products that assist people, and the planet, to work, rest and play better are both a big tick for customers and a future innovation pipeline for brands. 

Cultural lifestyle concepts are going from strength to strength, from the Danish principle of Hygge (cosy contentment) to Japanese tidying expert Marie Kondo’s KonMari method. Betterment is ultimately a personal journey, with customers seeing themselves as individuals — they are not simply the ‘masses’ anymore, they are a ‘me’. 

Consumers are curating their own identities more than ever before and expect brands to know who they are and want they want. “Brands that are responding have a real and exciting opportunity to take consumers on this journey.”

The key for wellness brands is to find shared attitudes or desires to target. 

No one can have missed the explosion in self-tracking culture as people seek external validation of positive lifestyle changes and a good helping of motivation too. In 2018, cyclists alone logged more than 5.2 billion miles on the Strava app — that’s enough miles to get from Earth to Pluto. 

Building Brand Experiences: Leveraging The Growth Of The ‘Betterment’ Trend
Image Credit: Allie Smith

Personal data has become social currency, and we are now living in a culture where a ‘date’ is just as likely to show off their latest Strava stats as share photos of them enjoying Insta-worthy destinations. From the widespread adoption of wearable fitness tech to the rise of sleep tracking apps such as SleepScore, the Instagram culture of ‘pics or it didn’t happen’ has evolved into a betterment culture of ‘if you weren’t wearing your Fitbit, did your workout even count?’

The numbers might paint a picture of people exercising more and sleeping more, but this data-driven aspect of Betterment is actually something of a double-edged sword. While tracking apps are encouraging people to be more intentional about how they are living their lives, obsessively measuring progress may actually work to the detriment of self-betterment. 

Unsurprisingly, sleep disorder specialist Dr Guy Leschziner has seen a link between patients using sleep tracking tools and insomnia. Tracking apps mean more points of comparison with others, an obsession with hours or miles accomplished and ultimately, more screen time. 

Building Brand Experiences: Leveraging The Growth Of The ‘Betterment’ Trend
Image: The White Company

The ‘Betterment’ Opportunity
Brands have the opportunity to help customers find a balance between data-driven improvement and a true, authentic and human ‘Betterment’ experience. When we created and designed The Sleep Studio for The White Company (launched in the UK in 2016 and the US in 2017) we knew that customers had sleep high on their agenda. 

The search for ‘sleep’ on Google had increased by 300% across a ten year period, showing the bedding category to be a highly emotive one, and 97% of customers were citing sleep as being synonymous with physical health, mental wellbeing, beauty, success and indulgence. Yet brands and retailers were still talking tech, specs and thread count. 

We created a sensory service experience revolving around ‘touch’ instead.  A perfect night’s sleep is crafted into seven steps, where customers can literally wrap themselves in duvets to feel each one, and more importantly, imagine tucking in and getting that perfect night’s sleep, with all the ingredients at their fingertips. The concept performed more than 50% better than stores in a similar tier.  

The Adidas RUNBASE in Berlin is right on target with Betterment in a work, rest, play kind of way, with the opening of its first health and wellness centre to celebrate the link between mind and body. The space is built around five pillars of ‘heart’, ‘brain’, ‘gear’, ‘energy’, and ‘muscle’.  Adidas understands that individuals need and want more sophisticated interactions with brands and are looking to them for help in living day-to-day and for the future. This takes Adidas from sports kit to running routes, food, cooking and personal wellbeing – all done with conviction and human touch.  

Agile direct-to-consumer brands are well positioned to adapt to the growing Betterment mindset. Cannabis brand Standard Dose does this well in its three-story wellness centre in New York City. 

Building Brand Experiences: Leveraging The Growth Of The ‘Betterment’ Trend

Standard Dose takes a holistic approach, combining the sale of CBD products with meditation classes, spa treatments and an F&B offering that serves CBD infused drinks. Since cannabis legalisation in the US, the interest in CBD has more than doubled, and Standard Dose has created an inviting self-care hub where customers feel empowered to try new products.

Thinking ‘Betterment’ gives brands an opportunity to find innovative ways in which they can develop stronger lasting connections with customers to build that all-important loyalty and growth. What does your ‘journey’ with a customer look like?

Household is an award-winning brand experience design agency in the business of understanding what matters most to people and acting on it. The company works globally from London and Los Angeles. 

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