Recession hurts wellness, not just wallets

>> Monday, November 23, 2009

That was's top story this morning, based on our survey, "Wellness & the Economy." (Read the article


We think it's telling that AdWeek chose to run the story as a feature, because the truth is, wellness is a factor in virtually every area of our lives, and in every category marketers are in (which is to say, all of them!).

Where once upon a time—say, before the economy tanked last year – affluent Americans defined “wellness” as being fit, healthy, and leading a balanced life, a dramatic shift has taken place: As the survey reveals, consumers’ #1 definition of wellness has changed from “being healthy” to “re-inventing.” Just take a look at the difference between the top 3 answers from last year to this: it’s clear that we’re operating in a whole new consumer environment.

What does wellness mean to you?



Being healthy


Feeling good inside and out


Being balanced

Sleeping well

Here are some of the ways responders described the change in their own lives:

Ø "Before, wellness meant eating right and exercising. Now it means being sane in a very desperate world."

Ø "Wellness used to mean feeling comfortable within my own skin, no matter how much I had to spend. Now it’s the peace of mind that comes with knowing I can pay the rent."

Ø " I used to believe in taking care of myself pre-emotively and proactively. Now I’m trying to maintain my mental heath and stress levels so I can function daily."

The more we’re affected by the economy, the less we tend to take care of ourselves, even in such basic areas as food and exercise. When we do work out, it’s all about stress relief, rather than appearance. The economy is taking a toll on our appearance – even our sex lives are suffering.

So what’s a wellness marketer to do? Here are our top 5 tips for making your brand relevant to today’s consumers, along with some of our favorite “wellness” campaigns that tap into the new zeitgeist. Most of these examples aren’t from marketers traditionally associated with wellness… but who’ve learned that true wellness transcends old definitions

  1. Look at how your product helps people reinvent their lives -- and even their everyday experiences. Wal-Mart’s new spot for Blue Bunny ice cream emphasizes that having ice cream at home can be just as much a treat for kids as going out to the local cone shop.

2. Help people see opportunity for change and rebuilding. Home Depot’s “Say Hello to savings” campaign celebrates the “budgetmasters” and “can-doers” who are busy improving both their homes and their lives.

3. Show how your product can help consumers keep what they have. Allstate’s “Back to Basics” campaign reminds consumers that what they have is worth cherishing – and protecting.

4. Reward consumers for being smarter, savvier shoppers. We’re learning to clip coupons, compare prices and find ways to make ends meet in ways that most of us haven’t had to think about for years. Microsoft’s series, “I’m a PC,” emphasizes that PC laptop buyers can have the functions they value, at a “value” price… and at least in the spots, rewards savvy shoppers who choose a PC with a free laptop.

5. Connect with people’s need to stay sane in a crazy world. Despite the mess we’re in, we’re still looking for ways to connect and have fun, without spending a lot of money. Selfishly, we happen to think that our campaign for Durex says it all… reminding people that there are all kinds of ways to find some pleasure.

We're happy to share more complete results! Email me at

Hope this finds you well!



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