Perspectives

2021 Outlook: Three Questions on Health and Wellness

Ed.’s note: Our agency leaders recently took a beat to ponder their beats. The following is a look back on the year that was in health and wellness, and thoughts on what lies ahead for the industry in 2021.

What has this past, unprecedented year taught you as a communications professional most about the health and wellness space?

The concept of wellness took on an entirely new meaning in 2020. In recent years, communications in this space were largely focused on self-improvement or self-care, but with the onset of the pandemic we were rocked back to the baseline needs of health and safety. Suddenly, there were more questions than answers, all underscored by feelings of fear and panic. Those moments were an important reminder about the value of clear, informative communications strategies that keep the human element at heart. In everything from crafting consumer-facing messaging for brands to simple, one-on-one conversations with media, remembering that there are actual people on the other side of our computer screens allowed for more authentic conversations and, ultimately, stronger relationships across the board.  

What do you believe separated the struggling brands from the more resilient brands in health and wellness during this past year and why?

This year’s most resilient health and wellness brands shared three key traits: adaptability, transparency and empathy. 

Healthcare is an inherently high-touch industry, but that was turned on its head when in-person interactions suddenly ceased. This was a moment for telemedicine brands, for example, to shine, quickly expanding their service offerings and creating messaging that educated consumers on the benefits and accessibility of virtual health services all while solving for a very real need in the market. Similarly, this was an area where fitness brands were able to find success, pivoting to at-home workout content and building new platforms that allowed consumers to maintain their routines without access to in-person gyms or classes. 

Looking beyond the physical health implications of the pandemic, mental health was also thrust into the spotlight this year. People are stressed, scared, anxious and managing feelings of isolation from their friends and family. By treating mental health as a vital element of full-body wellness and destigmatizing the need for mental health support, brands in this space have been able to remain relevant and useful to a wider audience of consumers. 

 What will be the biggest communication opportunities for health & wellness brands in 2021 and why?

As digital health and wellness services continue to grow, the opportunity and expectation for personalization will also expand with consumers. People are more interested and informed than ever about their own wellbeing and they place a premium on access to care that’s been designed to specifically meet their unique needs and healthcare goals. From personalized skincare or haircare products and on-demand access to fitness classes to therapists available at the touch of a button, empowering consumers with a sense of ownership over their own health will be a powerful tool for brands in the year ahead.  

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