If you ask the average person how much they’ve enjoyed 2021, it’s likely their answer won’t be overly positive. Another year embroiled in a global pandemic all but flew by — and it hasn’t been easy for brands or consumers.
However, if there is something positive that we’ve gotten out of the past year or so, it’s the increased focus on wellness. A topic of much interest in 2021, “wellness” was added to our shared vocabulary and quickly became a must for modern brand management.
Pfizer defines the term as “the act of practicing healthy habits on a daily basis to attain better physical and mental health outcomes so that instead of just surviving, you’re thriving.”
Now, for many people around the world, surviving the pandemic has felt hard enough. And now to achieve true “wellness”, we have to thrive? More or less — yes.
However, the onus to achieve wellness goals doesn’t fall on individuals’ shoulders alone. Brands — as both employers and suppliers of goods and services — also have a responsibility to help employees and consumers achieve said goals.
So, how will wellness impact brands in 2022? And how can they ensure they’re doing enough to help employees and customers improve their overall wellness? Let’s take a look.
What Areas of Life Does “Wellness” Affect?
To be fair, the term wellness is a bit vague — and perhaps intentionally so, as everyone’s definition of health and happiness isn’t necessarily the same.
But as an overall concept, it can be split into two key areas:
Physical Wellness: Exercise, nutrition, and sleep
Mental & Emotional Wellness: social connectedness, mindfulness, stress management
In 2021, US employees were surveyed to better understand their wellness goals. The results were very telling, with some examples as follows:
81% wanted to eat healthily
79% wanted to effectively manage or balance work or personal commitments
75% wanted to reduce or manage their stress
73% want to grow and maintain relationships
Clearly, peoples’ wellness goals include both physical and emotional/mental issues — as one cannot be achieved without the other.
So, to achieve true success, both areas need to be taken into consideration. Thus, it’s important that brands find ways to support both the physical and mental wellness of their employees and consumers.
Brands Have Aced Wellness in 2021
Let’s take a look at some examples of brands that succeeded in prioritizing wellness in 2021 — both internally and externally.
1. Accenture (Employee Wellness)
This international consulting and IT company is a stand-out when it comes to supporting employees via the “Accenture Wellness Program”. Offering extensive employee assistance programs to support mental and emotional wellness, Accenture provides employees with confidential support for issues such as depression, stress, substance abuse, and anxiety.
In 2020 alone, the brand “launched a mental health ally network and hosted a session where colleagues shared their stories and provided support for one another.” Of Accenture’s approach, HR lead Kristin Long said:
“We are committed to helping our people thrive by meeting them where they are on their wellness journey – not just for physical health, but also mental, emotional, spiritual, social, and financial well-being”.
To support all areas of wellness, Accenture offers virtual support networks to its employees — such as those for people with a loved one on the autism spectrum and parents of transgender children.
In an article for The Business Journals, they also reveal that the company “offers in-person and online learning sessions on topics as varied as financial coaching and elder care, and free coaching and counseling sessions so each person can focus on their well-being on their own or with a support system.”
In terms of physical wellness, the company provides employees with access to Teladoc services, where they can speak with a doctor to address health-related issues 24/7. Employees who are new moms also receive free memberships to MommaStrong, an online fitness program that “teaches mothers about their bodies, and how to gain strength from the inside out.”
Additionally, Accenture’s program allows employees to set personal health goals with the “Accenture Active” app and offers rewards for those who complete healthy activities — going as far as to provide discounts for gym memberships.
Clearly, Accenture understands how important wellness is to its employees’ lives and to its own success — which is supported by Harris Poll’s 2019 study, which found that 84% of employers noted a positive impact on productivity and performance thanks to company wellness programs.
2. Nike (Consumer Wellness)
Source: The Drum
When it comes to putting wellness first for consumers, look no further than Nike. While not a health or wellness brand per se, Nike has earned its reputation as a brand that truly cares about consumers’ health — both mental and physical.
Just last month, the brand launched its new “Mind Sets” program, which is meant to help users prioritize their mental health. With the goals of getting consumers moving in “any way that feels good for their mental well-being” — Mind Sets promises to “deliver custom movement programs and mental health content across the Nike App, Nike Run Club, and social channels.”
And this isn’t Nike’s first foray into promoting wellness among its customers. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic — which the brand knows has and will continue to affect its consumers — Nike has pledged more than $30 million in response efforts all over the world.
The brand has also been providing a two-to-one match for all employee donations to support community organizations all around the globe — a move that shows the brand’s commitment to consumers.
Finally, through its digital ecosystem (the Nike app, Nike Running Club app, Nike Training Club app, social channels, and Nike.com), the brand is providing “athletes around the world with tools, motivation, and affirmation to help fuel physical and mental health.”
According to a 2020 McKinsey study, 48% of respondents stated that there was an increase in their prioritization of wellness compared to 2-3 years ago. Obviously, Nike understands that supporting consumer wellness is pivotal to remaining a top brand in 2021 and beyond.
Other brands should look to Nike’s example of how to support consumers should they want to succeed in their own endeavors.
How Can Your Brand Integrate “Wellness”?
We all agree — to succeed in 2022, brands will need to prioritize wellness internally and externally. While there are plenty of different ways this can be accomplished, we’re going to focus on two options below.
1. Employee Wellness Policies + Employer Branding Campaigns
When it comes to integrating wellness into your brand, it’s best to start internally. After all, if you roll out a great campaign to support consumers but people find out you haven’t done the same for your employees, it won’t reflect nicely on your brand image.
This approach to integrating wellness will require marketing and HR to combine forces. First, HR should create an appropriate and feasible employee wellness program — one that supports mental, emotional, and physical health.
From subsidized gym memberships to free therapy sessions to weekly mindfulness sessions, there are plenty of ways brands can support employees’ holistic health.
After HR has finalized and implemented your new program, it’s marketing’s job to create an eye-catching employer branding campaign. This kind of campaign will showcase all the benefits and perks your brand offers employees — proving to consumers and potential employees alike that your brand cares and follows through.
To make it in 2022 and beyond, smart brands will integrate extensive internal wellness programs and prioritize health — or risk losing both employees and consumer trust.
2. Consumer Wellness Initiatives + Brand Communication
After you’ve rolled out your internal wellness program, you can turn your focus to providing support to your customers.
Keep in mind, you don’t need to be a wellness brand to promote it among your customers. In fact, using our own software, we ran a survey in the United States and discovered that 64% of consumers believe all brands should discuss mental health.
According to our data, 39% of consumers want brands to provide directions on where to access help — meaning they want brands to support them in their wellness journey, even if it’s just pointing them in the right direction.
Before rolling out consumer wellness support, consider what you can reasonably offer. Not all brands can (or need to) go as far as big names like Nike. For most consumers, it’s about believing that brands genuinely care about their wellbeing — even if it’s just a small change.
A great example of prioritizing wellness for customers? Bloom & Wild’s opt-out option from their promo mailing list for customers who may be sensitive about certain holidays. At first glance, this may not seem related — but it made a real and lasting impact on customers.
Though this move cost the brand over 18,000 email subscribers, customer feedback volume increased by 5X and contact on Twitter skyrocketed from 5% to 20%. Bloom & Wild’s audience was incredibly grateful to the brand for prioritizing their emotional wellness — as holidays like Mother’s or Father’s Day can be painful for some.
As you can see, there are many ways to integrate consumer wellness into your brand strategy. From large campaigns to small tweaks to your customer journey — what’s most important is to show consumers that you care.
Wellness isn’t a passing trend — it’s here to stay, and will only become more important as time goes on. Brands that want to grow and excel in 2022 will need to figure out how to integrate it into their brand strategies — both internally and externally.
While there are plenty of ways brands can integrate wellness, make sure any new initiatives remain aligned with your brand values and mission. Authenticity and honesty are integral — so invest the proper time and resources to ensure your choices make a positive impact.