Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Marketing “Health” In the Age of Additive

This post was originally published on Kelton Global’s blog.

Looking around at health and wellness messages across industries, I’m struck by how much our perspective on “healthy” has shifted. After all, it wasn’t that long ago when Richard Simmons had us Sweatin’ to the Oldies, and The Beverly Hills Diet recommended cutting out nearly all the major food groups in the crusade for a lean physique.

Fewer consumers are aspiring for the “ideal body”.

Deprivation and “no pain, no gain” health messaging is still out there, but a rising trend is rendering these tried-and-true tactics less effective. The focus of the conversation around health has gone from subtraction (minimizing calories, dropping pounds), to addition (benefits, rewards, and how much one has to gain). In a nod to Positive Psychology, it’s no longer solely about making improvements in terms of better physical health, but about achieving a more balanced, healthy outlook on diet and fitness. The shift in thinking is so prevalent that Kelton’s Cultural Insights team is calling it out as a full-blown movement around Additive Health.

As the pursuit of “healthy” moves away from fixing what’s wrong and toward optimizing health and wellbeing as a lifestyle, brands need to reposition and speak to these changing perceptions. After a thorough analysis of emerging trends in Additive Health, Kelton uncovered three impactful brand messaging principles that brands can use to speak to this new ethos. Every health-related brand should incorporate the below tenets into their messaging toolkit in order to stay relevant in the face of this new trend:

Emphasize potential gains, and avoid highlighting opportunities for “loss”.

Once an omnipresent message pervading all things health and fitness, weight loss-centered marketing has lost its luster in recent years. Sure, people still want to drop some pounds. But at the same time, more consumers are realizing that a mindset of deprivation and negativity is a barrier to achieving health-related goals. They’re turning instead to proven techniques like rewards and affirmative statements. Focus your messaging on the advantageous outcomes of getting fit and healthy–like increased energy, confidence, and strength, and position physical and superficial benefits as secondary byproducts. This will inspire shoppers to incorporate your product into their daily routines.

Double down on social connectivity.

Think about ways that your product or service can bring people together in the name of wellness, whether it’s offering a traditional exercise course, run club, or something else that caters to a niche audience. Offer a means of entertainment, social connectivity, or even a little indulgence, in order to cultivate a sense of community among your brand’s biggest advocates.

This tactic can work both online and off. Consider integrating elements of positive reinforcement– including social and personal payoffs– into the digital consumer experience, to help consumers internalize progress and transform sense of self. Programs like Vitality and Fitocracy link elements of gaming, rewards, and digital coaching to engage users and maintain motivation.

Be inclusive. Recognize the broad-spectrum audience that aspires to behave and feel healthier.
Instead of using actors and models for your next marketing campaign, look to incorporate people who resemble and think like your broader consumer base. Fewer consumers are aspiring for the “ideal body,” thanks at least in part to an increase in candid body positive messages from high profile celebrities. This trend of body acceptance has reached a crescendo, with Barbie now available in four different body types and the first ever plus size model featured on the Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover.

Showing unrepresentatively fit or thin individuals is not nearly as impactful to today’s audience as featuring people and situations that the average person can relate to. Leverage social listening to find out the broader goals that your audience is striving for, and design your messaging to speak to those ambitions.

 The Additive Health Movement has positive potential for consumers and brands alike, and is an incredible opportunity for companies to highlight the role of their products and services within a holistically healthy lifestyle. While no one can say for sure how long this movement will last, it’s no mistake that the most relevant fitness brands broadcast the high-level benefits of wellness and downplay the role of aesthetics.

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