Turn on the TV or scroll through your Twitter feed and you’ll likely find someone talking about health and wellness. Whether it’s about our food supply, the rise of organic products, how sitting is the new smoking or the power of meditation, the topic has seemingly taken over our media landscape.

The truth is, we’ve been talking about health and wellness for years. It’s the ubiquity and intensity of the topic that’s changed.

There are two critical forces at play that are shifting this topic from niche to mainstream: increasingly complex needs and massive digital engagement.

First off, our health needs today are complex. We’re talking more about ailments because four in 10 U.S. households today have someone in the household who suffers from a chronic disease and are using food to treat their conditions. This is just one example of how macro factors like the ageing population, increase in chronic diseases, rising health care costs and demand for product transparency are strongly influencing consumer needs and behaviour.

Consumers’ focus on product transparency has resulted in the growth of clean label products sold in stores. Looking across the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) space, half of all shopping trips now include the purchase of a clean label product, with Millennials and Generation X consumers driving much of the sales growth we’re seeing.

Secondly, we’ve seen an exponential increase in digital and social media engagement. In six years, our social media usage has nearly quadrupled, rising from six hours and nine minutes per month to five hours and 30 minutes per week. During this same period, smartphone penetration has increased more than 400%, rising from 16.3% to 83.4%. It’s clear that our devices are drawing more and more of our attention—moving more of our interactions online.

The scale, reach and community of social media helping those individuals affected by ailments feel less alone, find a supportive community and identify the right solutions. According to the Nielsen’s Strategic Health Perspectives survey, more and more people are turning to a variety of digital platforms to understand their health. Digital platforms are amplifying consumer actions—enabling and ultimately shifting the way we think about finding new information.

Sources of health care information

It’s becoming critical for manufacturers and retailers to understand:

  1. We have more choices than ever. Consumers can buy in more places than ever. This is true for everyone from restaurants to grocery stores. Think about optimizing messaging, assortment and pricing across devices, channels and platforms.
  2. Health and wellness is a personal journey. It’s not just the health-focused consumer who is consuming health-focused media. As health and wellness become more mainstream, it will be critical for businesses to use digital platforms to engage with consumers one-to-one at scale. Marketers must take a closer look at what healthy means across consumers of different ages, locations and income.
  3. Consumers define health differently across categories. The importance of organic to consumers will vary notably by category, for example, organic may be more significant to consumers when it comes to baby food than it does for yogurt. We must understand how health factors into each category and approach it on an individualized basis.

Making health accessible and winning in this new health and wellness landscape will take collaboration across all stakeholders. It will require consumers, manufacturers and retailers to work together to build and connect consumers to the right products and services that will help them live their individualized view of a healthier life.

Education and engagement with consumers around trust and transparency will become crucial, especially for those who suffer from ailments and keenly focused on what goes in and stays out of their products. Digital will remain a key listening device to help you understand your shoppers and platform for engagement.

For additional information, download our recent health and wellness webinar.


Insights from this article were derived from:

By Jordan Rost, VP, Consumer Insights