Wellness: The Future “Center” of Marketing

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Wellness – defined by the World Health Organization as “an optimal state of health,” concerning an individual’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual state of being.  For reasons unsurprising (e.g. the obesity epidemic, outrageous healthcare costs, the 50+ segment which is the largest demographic in the U.S.), wellness living has made its way into the corporate and cultural mainstream. 

The healthcare industry is transitioning from a “fix-it” to a “prevent-it” model (the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have estimated that chronic diseases, most of which are preventable, account for 75 percent of the $2 trillion spent on healthcare).  Both Mayo Clinic and closer to home Morristown Medical Center of Atlantic Health System are just two of the many healthcare organizations offering wellness solution programs for corporations aimed at enhancing overall wellbeing of employees (and therefore leading to greater productivity and lower healthcare expenditures).

We’re seeing industries blending together to offer cross-discipline services.  Fitness centers now offer spa/salon services (in addition to nutritional counseling and recreational programs), grocery stores are opening spas, spas position themselves as places to rejuvenate the mind, body, and soul versus a place to simply get pampered – even giving birth to “wellness tourism.”

Opportunities for Brands and Marketers

Positioning. Brands that position themselves as wellness-focused (with multiple benefits) will be able to capture a larger audience – both the already healthy, looking to live optimally, as well as the chronically ill.  As an example, Aetna has begun to position themselves as a health solutions and technology company, rather than just an insurer. As part of its strategy, Aetna has developed and implemented CarePass, a wellness application for consumers, available to both members and non-members for free, and has spent the last several years acquiring IT-related companies.

Marketing Communications & Actions. Crafting a life of wellness is fun and exciting. This vibrant energy needs to be reflected (so consumers can see themselves) in all cross-channel communications. Marketers can also (and more importantly) help educate consumers about wellness living and create tools/applications to aid them through their journey to optimal living. I’m a personal fan of Kashi, and appreciate the education they deliver through their Natural Living Library and Recipes We Love.

According to a HealthLeaders article based on a survey conducted by Virgin HealthMiles, “employees love wellness programs.  Eighty-seven percent of respondents said that they consider health and wellness offerings when choosing an employer.  And incentives play a big role in employee motivation—61% of employees credit the incentive as the key reason for participating.”

Partnerships. Having one singularly focused offering is not enough. Consumers want the whole package. They want to receive care for their mind, body, and spirit in ONE place. Companies that excel in one particular industry should consider creating mutually beneficial and value-creating relationships. For example, NATIRAR, known for it exceptional dining experience is teaming up with Miraval Spa so that the brand may aspire to its vision of providing nourishment for the mind, body, and soul to its customers.

A Change In Philosophy

Several years ago when I had worked for an integrative health practitioner (aka. a nutritionist), I was introduced to the idea of “wellness”.  At the time, I didn’t consider myself unhealthy, but I wasn’t living optimally.  So, I gave “wellness” living a try, reluctantly at first, but eventually embracing it whole-heartedly.  I began reading food labels, went from eating fast food/takeout to cooking almost every meal with organic/natural products, and sleeping earlier, made healthier lifestyle decisions that I knew would contribute to my overall happiness and wellbeing.

My philosophy for living has changed and with it, my purchasing decisions and behaviors.  I am not a singular phenomenon.  This shift towards wellness is not a trend, it’s a change in philosophy and it’s here to stay.