Wellness has in recent times emerged as a global consumer megatrend. People are becoming more conscious of the impact of products on their general health and lifestyles. Consumers increasingly want products that meet their aspiration for wellness.
But what is wellness? Experts define wellness as holistic healthy living that addresses not just physical health but also mental, spiritual and social wellbeing. Products and the brands they represent have to go beyond meeting the functional needs of buyers to addressing their overall health and wellness aspirations.
Wellness is therefore, not limited to products promoting physical wellness. It could be a hotel experience that promotes meditation or an inspirational book that boosts the reader’s spiritual wellbeing.
From a brand perspective, wellness underpins an important trend – aspirational lifestyle. The modern consumer is looking for products that enable him or her to meet their aspirations – health, comfort, happiness and other important personal goals. Be it cereals or bread or beverages or cooking oil, or even a car or phone, the aspiration for wellness is influencing how consumers perceive brands.
So huge is the wellness industry that the non-profit organization Global Wellness Institute in its 2018 Global Wellness Economy Survey estimated the value at $4.2 trillion. To put this into context, the global wellness industry is equivalent to an estimated 5.3 per cent of total global economic output. Personal care and beauty accounts for the largest chunk of the wellness industry at about $ 1 trillion in value followed by healthy eating and nutrition at $666 billion.
That wellness is such big business today implies the need for companies including manufacturing to understand how wellness contributes to overall brand equity.
Why are people becoming more wellness conscious? The growing lifestyle disease burden is one reason behind the shift by consumers to products and brands that meet their wellness goals. This is more pronounced with food and personal care products. Today, consumers want to know how many calories or sugar is contained in their favorite cooking oil or beverage. Obesity is a major public health challenge. So are lifestyle-related illnesses like hypertension, heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Changing consumer demographics is another factor. For instance, a growing millennial consumer base wants certain experiences with products. Harris Group, a research firm, estimates 72 per cent of millennials would rather spend on experiences than on material goods. As millennials grow older and their spending power rises, consumer brands will be forced to keep up with this new, young mindset revolving around health and wellness.
Rising consumer activism is another factor influencing wellness consciousness. Consumers are now more aware of their rights and are demanding more information on product benefits from a wellness and health perspective. They want to know the nutritional benefits of a particular food or beverage product. They want to know the ingredient of a soap or lotion and whether it contains natural or organic ingredients.
This explains why social media has become such an important tool for brands to communicate potential benefits of their products to consumers. But social media can also trigger a backlash where a company or brand misleads the public regarding their products. All said, social media has evolved into an effective platform where consumers share their personal experiences by either endorsing or trashing a particular product. Credibility means everything for a brand promoting wellness.
Employees are the people who are involved in production should therefore be frontline champions in communicating a brand’s wellness attributes. Employees often understand the product better having at some point been involved in its development. This important function should not be left to the marketing department alone.
Brands should ideally focus on how a product fits into the overall goal of a healthier lifestyle – the essence of wellness. They have to keep abreast with the evolving consumer thinking. There is a lot of research into the whole subject of wellness from a consumer angle. The fundamental message is the same: brands have to continuously seek new ways of engaging with this new breed of wellness conscious consumers.
Malde is the Commercial Director, Pwani Oil Limited.