Well-being is everything and everywhere: does it harm credibility?

These days, there is no place to hide from wellness trends. Petco turned heads before the pandemic by reinventing itself as a retailer of health and wellness products. Selena Gomez’s Rare Beauty cosmetics brand comes with a mental health and wellness initiative. Hair care brands now offer supplements as part of a wellness routine and supplement brands offer sexual wellness. Even MetLife got in on the game and launched Upwise, which promotes financial well-being by tackling the emotional barriers to progress. The list continues.

In many ways, this is great news. Not only is the focus on personal health and well-being more normalized, but consumers have become much more informed and do not accept blanket claims without substantiated evidence. But this new informed consumer also means brands that leverage wellness need to work harder and become far more transparent in their business practices. Everything must work to build credibility. No more using words like “clean” and “sustainable” unless they can prove it. More pledges to have a social impact or to causes like helping to end single-use plastic. Only inclusive brand experiences that speak to everyone.

As more brands (especially in beauty) embrace wellness and categories become confused, credibility has truly become the most valuable currency. Here’s how you build a wellness brand with credibility to spare.

leave no doubt

The wellness industry is full of terms – “personal care”, “natural”, etc. – which have become a catch-all for products that suggest efficacy without needing to prove what a product actually does. It only relies on the emotional benefit without showing the actual benefit. These days, anything can be considered “personal care” – skincare, makeup, vibrators – but customers need to know exactly why they need to use something – what it will do for them, what results they’ll see, what others are using it and what results are they getting. Wellness brands need to clearly communicate how a product will enhance customers’ lives or experiences and how it fits into their lifestyle. A great example of this brand philosophy in action is ASystem, a series of supplements that go to great lengths to detail their ingredients and prove that their products are science-based and credible, with information and all the information you might need accessible directly on their place. But above that, they also incorporate psychology as a way to help people maintain their wellness habit and are aesthetically appealing to consumers with form that appeals to you as much as function. These are supplements you want to pull out of your bag to start a conversation or get someone to notice, in addition to being effective.

Tell a personal story

Since Gen Z has the highest BS meter of any generation, they can tell right away if a brand is simply copying another brand or saying what they think they should say, especially on social media. So, any brand storytelling should be specific and personal if the goal is to get consumers to believe in your product and fall in love with your brand. Gen Z won’t use a brand they’re not friends with. You can’t be afraid to be vulnerable or a little exposed to gain credibility. Know what you stand for as a brand, then reflect it in all your touchpoints, from your packaging to your message. Even if you’re not a celebrity, influencer, or skincare expert, you should still have a compelling connection to the issues you’re trying to solve. Maybe your demanding job with harsh environments and stressful situations played hell with your sensitive skin and led you to launch a high-end skincare brand. Or you’re a working mom who always wants to feel beautiful no matter where your life takes you, which led you to launch a more adaptable beauty brand. These are the types of authentic stories that really resonate with consumers and make a brand unique and inspiring. Don’t just say who you are, show who you are.

Take Wellness Seriously, But Not Too Seriously

Historically, the wellness category was very serious – you couldn’t be active and happy when you were talking about wellness. You had to be calm, serene and floating on a cloud. Being trustworthy and credible meant displaying a poised attitude.

Coming out of the final years of the pandemic, that is starting to change. Although people are more anxious than ever, they are also looking for ways to connect and reconnect in meaningful ways with others and society. They want to feel joyful and uplifted, not calm and reclusive. As a result, brands that offer connection in their visuals, brand experience, and messaging will gain credibility. People are going to need help to feel happy again. They are going to need to feel confident to connect with others at work and play, and to feel psychological and physical security in order to perform at their best every day. If wellness brands want to be part of the solution, they will need to present themselves in a more empathetic, emotional and interesting way.

Our world is changing so rapidly, and so are consumer tastes and preferences. So, wellness brands should also constantly evolve, thinking about how they can be more credible. In fact, transparency, security, and efficiency are actually table stakes for today’s wellness consumer who will only tolerate e-commerce experiences that feel more personalized and marketing that speak directly. As more brands embrace wellness messages, it’s those wellness brands that deliver unique aesthetics and (more importantly) focus on proving their worth that will find a lasting audience.

Anna Kavaliunas

Anna Kavaliunas is the Chief Strategy Officer at branding and marketing agency SMAKK, helping guide clients through a rapidly changing online landscape, using a wide range of digital strategies to better communicate the unique value of each Mark. This includes advising on storytelling, messaging and branding and delivering campaigns that both drive engagement and promote a vision for a better world.

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