What’s the Value of Wellness?

>> Wednesday, January 20, 2010

We’ll be writing a lot about this subject in the coming weeks, as we address the financial opportunity that exists in giving your brand (or business) a purpose in the lives of consumers when it comes to their own health & wellness choices.

The New York Times reported a few weeks ago that 75% of the $2.5 trillion spent in healthcare in the US today is directed at four chronic diseases:
Type 2 Diabetes
Heart Disease

While all of these may have hereditary sources, there is no doubt that personal lifestyle choices play a significant factor in all of them. And if you drill down into the numbers, the scale and impact of the way things are currently going is startling: it is projected that the percentage of Americans who meet the criteria of “obese” will more than double in the next eight years – rising from 9% today to 20% in 2018. However, if the percentage of “obese” Americans fell to 1987 levels, the amount of healthcare costs that would be freed up would be enough to cover all of our nation’s uninsured.

Think about it: if we could simply address the obesity issue and help Americans make healthier choices that would take this endemic to the levels of 22 years ago, much of the financial strain of the healthcare crisis evaporates.

But what’s the real value of wellness to your own brand or business?

IBM reported that its investment in health & wellness initiatives, of about $80 million over the past several years, has yielded the company an estimated $190 million in savings (a combination of healthcare savings and less ‘lost time’ due to illness leaves or missed days). The same New York Times story profiled a company called “The Full Yield”, which helps companies and people improve their own health & well being by putting food at the heart of their personal healthcare. Diet makes a difference – doctors have noted that changing diets can help undo the symptoms of even severe heart disease, with one physician noting that they had seen improved blood flow in some patients within one month of making the change.

We have an opinion at Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness that people want to feel better, and that ‘wellness’ represents – on an intensely personal level – the same sort of sea change that greening and the environment represents on a macro-economic scale. Consumers attach value to feeling better – and will pay for it (and we believe, in the future, increasingly insist that brands deliver on this front). In the case of IBM, it represented ‘found money’ – and in the case of some other brands, wellness represents new growth. What’s the potential value of wellness for your brand?


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