5 growth opportunities for health and wellness brands
The health and wellness market is a constantly evolving space, and marketers looking to catch a tailwind have to be progressing right along with it. Those brands that have been able to do so are best placed to catch consumer interest, but they have a growing, cluttered space to contend with—the wellness market is currently valued at $4.2 trillion, according to the Global Wellness Institute.
At Ad Age’s first-ever Next: Health & Wellness event on February 6, we brought together marketing leaders from large companies like CVS and Equinox that are looking to expand their wellness footprints; along with direct-to-consumer brands like Blume, Branch Basics and Eight Sleep that are forging their places in consumers’ health regimens. Each spoke about the state of the industry and opportunities that exist for their brands.
Sell your acne treatment with a side of education
With so much quick expansion in the category, one thing that a majority of speakers agreed upon is that there exists a massive amount of misinformation consumers can access all too easily online. On a panel called “Trust in a time of Skepticism,” Richard Edelman, president and CEO at communications firm Edelman, points out that there are two-thirds fewer health and wellness journalists than there were 10 years ago. The opportunity, then, is to be a brand that consumers can trust and come to, not only for the products they need, but the health and wellness education they are searching for as well. “If you want to get authoritative information out, you do it yourselves, you go direct to the end-user with information,” said Edelman.
That’s the entire business model around d-to-c brand Branch Basics, which sells non-toxic cleaning products. On a panel called “What does wellness look like now?,” CEO Tim Murphy said Branch Basics is an education company first and a product company second. Besides a desire to be transparent and share facts, providing that education also brings more revenue. “The more we educate on health and wellness, the more cleaning products we sell,” he said. “The more we push cleaning products, the less we sell.”
Being that source of reliable information isn’t always easy though, especially when you cater to a younger consumer base like Gen Zers. Taran Ghatrora, co-founder and CEO of d-to-c brand Blume, which sells products that cater to a self-care routine like acne treatment and period supplies, calls the generation “savvy.” “They’re quick to call you out if something feels wrong or off-brand,” she says. “They’re definitely shaping the brands they shop from and the world they live in.”
Show you’re a purpose-driven company
For corporations looking to enter the health and wellness category or just expand their efforts, there’s an opportunity to take a stand on significant issues consumers are passionate about. CVS is doing just that. In the past few years, CVS committed itself (and the more than 500 brands in its stores) to not use airbrushing in its advertising, stopped selling cigarettes and tobacco products and pledged to not work with agencies that have tobacco and e-cigarette companies as clients. After its acquisition of health insurance company Aetna in 2018, CVS began opening HealthHUB clinics at CVS stores across the country, and plans to have 1,500 clinics by the end of 2021.
Speaking at Next: Health & Wellness, Norman de Greve, senior VP and chief marketing officer at CVS Health, says about 20 percent of CVS stores are now dedicated to health services. The clinics, which offer preventative services, sleep studies, yoga classes and more, “can do about 85 percent of what primary care doctors can do,” he adds. Greve said that throughout all the initiatives, the reactions from the companies’ brand partners has been positive. “They all leaned into it,” he said. “So not only are we doing it for ourselves, we’re changing the industry.”
Use data insights to improve consumer experience
For any brand, consumer data is a window into what customers want and expect. Now that more health and wellness services and products are accessible to consumers, brands can take the data consumers are willing to share to improve on their overall experiences. CVS is using customer data (after a person chooses to opt-in to share it) at its new HealthHUB clinics so that pharmacists can better assist individuals. If someone comes in for allergy medicine, Greve explained, the pharmacist can remind them about their other medication that needs a refill.
Eight Sleep, a d-to-c company that sells smart mattresses, allows customers to share their data collected online from its signature product, called The Pod, to platforms like Apple Health to Google Fit. “We integrate with other platforms so you can learn more about you,” said Alexandra Zatarain, co-founder and head of brand and marketing at Eight Sleep.
Seek out partner brands
Companies that see consumer interest in health and wellness only mounting, also want to play in the space in any way they can. Jake Matthews, analyst at CB Insights, pointed out examples of brands partnering with wellness apps, especially those that aim to offer more sleep: Meditation app Calm has a partnership with American Airlines, Uber and Sonos; and Meditation app Headspace has a partnership with Nike, Casper, the NBA, Spotify and a several airlines like JetBlue and Delta. “Just about every industry is looking to provide sleep solutions,” he said, adding that 35 percent of adults don’t get enough.
Be open to new categories
Health and Wellness is a broad category. Under it comes sleep, fitness, nutrition, meditation, mental health and more. When a brand establishes itself as a “health and wellness” or “lifestyle” brand, there’s room to grow. Seth Solomons, CMO at Equinox, said the brand has always viewed itself as a club, and not just a gym. In July, Equinox debuted its own hotel (Solomons said the company will have 30 hotels in the next 10 years). It also operates luxury travel retreats and a talent management venture with its SoulCycle brand. Last year, Equinox brought its 15-year-old tagline, “It’s not fitness, it’s life” back to its advertising. “We like being in a category of one and then refine what that category looks like,” said Solomons.