Desire For ‘Betterment’ Continues To Redefine Wellness In 2021

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  • Mintel recently found that one-third of adults are paying more attention to their mental health compared to a year ago. As a result, the global mental wellness market is now worth £90bn
  • Since the pandemic hit, brands have taken the opportunity to launch mental health services to support their community and help their customers cope
  • A boom in new financing options is making products and services more accessible and supporting financial wellness.
  • Brand activism is no longer optional for consumers — they demand to see change. However, there’s a fine line between purposeful action and performative or tokenistic statements. 
  • A growing desire for people to freely express who they are is forming a new approach towards self-identification that goes against traditional demographics and understanding of customer groups and segmentation. 

In this regular column, creative agency Household explores how modern wellness businesses can leverage consumer behaviour to create brand stories and experiential points of discovery for customers. 

This month Household is examining how amidst a global pandemic, consumers continue to prioritise ‘Betterment’ as a route towards achieving a boost in health and wellness.

The anxiety, stress and uncertainty that has emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic have redefined how people view health and wellness. Through cycles of lockdown and isolation, people have re-evaluated their wellbeing and have looked to re-prioritise self-care. We’ve seen the consumer behavioural force we identify as ‘Betterment’, continue to grow into new areas, as the focus evolves into mental, physical and financial wellbeing.

Here, we explore five ways consumer behaviour around Betterment has changed and the actions brands can take to have a positive impact on the 2021 health and wellness industry:

  1. Democratise mental health 
  2. Prioritise financial wellbeing
  3. Entertain and meet shared goals together
  4. Advocate for diversity 
  5. Strive for inclusion and support for all

Democratise mental health
COVID-19 has re-emphasised the importance of mental wellbeing. Mintel recently found that one-third of adults are paying more attention to their mental health compared to a year ago. As a result, the global mental wellness market is now worth £90bn

Since the pandemic hit, we’ve seen brands take the opportunity to launch mental health services to support their community and help their customers cope. DTC health and wellness platform Hims and Hers introduced a free therapy service, and apparel brand Zappos opened a special hotline for customers to talk about any topic of their choosing.  

This year, we expect to see even more brands use their platform to further destigmatise mental wellbeing, creating new initiatives and services that make mental healthcare services more accessible to their customers. This will enable brands to further support and take care of their communities, building trust and deepening relationships.  

Desire For ‘Betterment’ Continues To Redefine Wellness In 2021

Prioritise financial wellbeing 
The financial uncertainty caused by COVID-19 is contributing to a determinantal effect on people’s financial wellness across all ages. A staggering 71% of 18 to 24-year-olds were worried about money once a week in 2020, according to a survey by Money and Pensions Service.  

As a result, people are exploring different options to take greater control over their finances. We’ve seen a boom in new financing options to make products and services more accessible. In the UK, buy-now-pay-later schemes are predicted to double their market share by 2023, as they grow at a rate of 39% annually (Worldpay, 2020). 

New players are driving this market, breaking down financing options simply to remove hidden costs and improve transparency. Klarna, for example, aims to help customers understand credit and with the launch of ‘KlarnaSense’ is helping users re-evaluate their consumption habits and make smarter decisions.  

This year, we expect to see brands build on their new role as financial therapists; providing services and financing options that help consumers feel safe and secure with their money. The long-term benefit is that customer loyalty will grow if people feel more confident and positive in purchasing decisions that are in line with what they can afford.  

Entertain and meet shared goals together
During the global lockdowns, at-home fitness boomed as consumers pivoted to staying fit inside. But a desire for social connection and indoor entertainment has also seen a rapid rise in community-based exercise subscriptions. 

In May 2020, Peloton reported a 66% rise in sales. The at-home cycling brand taps into competitive socialising to encourage its strong global online community to exercise with others. But as new players such as Apple Fitness+ enter the market, Peloton continues to test new workout experiences such as a partnership with musician Beyoncé to keep it fresh, relevant and attract new members to join. 

Read More: Beyoncé X Peloton: Wellness Brands Continue Support Of Black Lives Matter Movement

Peloton is exploring new, fun ways to immerse members into worlds of entertainment — it’s no longer just an exercise subscription service.

When non-essential retail and fitness spaces re-open, wellness brands that have launched new virtual experiences will have to think about how they connect back to their physical experiences. These brands have the opportunity to use their physical spaces to engage with their digital communities offline. This allows customers to connect, exercise, learn and grow together — deepening their relationship with each other and the brand. 

Advocate for diversity
The global Black Lives Matter movement was a defining moment of 2020. Today, more than 65% of consumers say it’s important that the companies they buy from have a diverse management team (Morning Consult, 2020).  

And brands such as Glossier, Clique and Sephora responded to customers’ demands for diversity and inclusion by pledging to improve the racial representation of their products and the people behind the brands. 

Glossier has led the way, using its voice and platform to drive change in the beauty industry. The brand donated $500K across organisations focused on combating racial injustice. It also launched a fund and mentorship scheme to help small and large Black-owned beauty and wellness businesses thrive. The scheme was so popular it received up to 10,000 applications.  

Brand activism is no longer optional for consumers — they demand to see change. However, there’s a fine line between purposeful action and performative or tokenistic statements. 53% of Generation Z said they think brands are supporting the movement in order to retain customers (Morning Consult, 2020). To avoid this, wellness brands can learn from Glossier’s actions, by creating new services, products and experiences that actually make a difference, demonstrating activist beliefs to drive change.

Desire For ‘Betterment’ Continues To Redefine Wellness In 2021

Strive for inclusion and support for all
We’ve seen a growing desire for people to freely express who they are. This new form of self-identification goes against traditional demographics and our existing understanding of customer groups and segmentation. 

In a recent survey by Pew Research, 35% of Gen Z and 25% of Millennials said they know someone who prefers to use gender-neutral pronouns. This chimes in with the rise in genderless products and campaigns, with wellness brands using their platforms to not only raise awareness but tackle the stigmas and taboos head-on. 

Personal hygiene brand Thinx famously did this through its ‘MENstruation’ brand campaign that highlighted that Trans men menstruate too. 

We’re now starting to see brands re-think their store environments with gender inclusivity in mind, in a bid to create safe spaces that welcome all. Adidas opened its first gender-neutral store in Soho, London in October. The brand has curated its product offering to sell lifestyle products in inclusive sizes. In doing so, it aims to appeal to a wider range of customers.

However, a challenge has arisen for brands that want to target by gender. They need to find a balance so they can remain inclusive, and appeal to all. 

As we enter 2021, customers’ changing views on Betterment will create new opportunities for wellness brands across sectors to enter and drive relevancy in the market.  

 Here are three takeaways to consider:  

  1. Can you offer products and services that improve customers’ physical, mental and financial health, as well as enable brand communities to form? 
  2. Can you empower customers at home and in-store through campaigns and products to help them feel more confident, supported and recognised?
  3. How can you be transparent and open with customers to help them make smarter decisions about the right products for their individual needs? 

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