It's all well and good


By Camilla Davies


Pick up any magazine, scroll through Instagram or simply stroll down the high street and it’s obvious that the wellness movement is in full swing. From wellness related apps, to a surge in Tough Mudder style events, to the prominence of athleisure both on catwalks and in the high street; it’s clear that holistic wellness has become top of mind for many. It’s no surprise then that marketers have taken note of the zeitgeist and capitalised on the needs of today’s ‘wellthy’ consumer, prioritising physical and mental health within their larger strategies.

As consumers look to eat cleaner, purchase ethically and achieve a balanced lifestyle, a holistic approach to wellness has come to encompass a long list of goods and services, focusing on emotional, physical, mental and community wellness. The Global Wellness Institute measured the industry at 3.7 trillion in 2015, and we continue to see changes in consumer behaviour and their spending habits across FMCG and beyond.

For some brands, aligning with the wellness message is a natural fit. Health foods company Rude Health, for example, regularly hosts events centred on keeping the customer ‘in rude health’ – embracing their zest for life. Their yoga and meditation workshops are an extension of their mantra and live within an existing brand identity. Other brands have stumbled across the wellness message with a touch of serendipity. London’s Camden Town Brewery, for example, have launched their popular run club Run Like Hells across six London Young’s pubs, after Camden regulars started ending their weekly social run with a beer. The idea took off and Young’s have found a way to incorporate fitness, Camden Hells and their pub portfolio into a fun consumer-led execution.

Of course, tying brands to physical wellbeing has long been used as a strategy to incentivise shoppers. Think Persil’s longstanding Outdoor Classroom Day – with 340,000+ UK kids already signed up - or Sainsbury’s Active Kids vouchers. But as more brands are getting on board with promoting mental, nutritional, cosmetic and sleep wellbeing as an extension of their offering, demonstrating this through OOH, shopper and brand activations is on the rise.


Wellness under one roof: Sweaty Betty

The sportswear industry is rife with free and ticketed activations – think Adidas Runners, Lululemon Run Club, and of course Nike’s ever expanding roster of activations. But Sweaty Betty has found a way to exist in the wellness world in a way that rival sportswear brands haven’t achieved through emulating the growing wellness festival concept (think Balance Festival, Soul Circus, LoveFit) on their own terms. Launching their inaugural Sweaty Betty Live in September 2016, the one-day fitness-themed festival in central London featured high intensity interval training sessions, yoga and barre classes, with the sweat inducing workouts complemented by inspirational talks.  Pampering sessions including a braiding bar, alongside moreish poke bowls, soften any competitive edge, and the emphasis is on building community. Keeping the event aligned with the brand’s product offering, visitors also had the chance to personalise their own pair of leggings. By coordinating exercise, education and nutrition under one roof, Sweaty Betty isn’t afraid to curate to its own tastes, to the benefit of loyal brand advocates, new converts from the event, and long term their own bottom line.


Relaxation - Volvo

Volvo’s foray into the zen realm proves that the motor industry needn’t shy away from the wellness arena. The brand launched their ‘Escape the City in Your City’ campaign in 2017, inviting residents from Edinburgh to London into an urban sanctuary through their Scandinavian style pop-up. Volvo set up yoga, art classes and Swedish massage, the premise being that the Volvo XC60’s clutter-free cabin is an equally relaxing and welcoming space. In case visitors became so chilled out they forgot just why they were there, visitors also had viewing access to the new Volvo model before it launched at dealerships, with the possibility of a test-drive added into the mix too. This unlikely marriage of a powerful SUV and a tranquil retreat demonstrates that with a little lateral thinking, four wheelers can find their niche in the market too.


Clean Beauty - Holland & Barrett

It’s no surprise to see the U.K.’s largest health retail chain demanding some attention in the wellness field. Now, with rising interest in green and ethical products reflected across the high street, Holland & Barrett are capitalising on this awareness to bolster their clean beauty concept with a new in-store, digital and print campaign. Featuring models eating their beauty products instead of applying them, the tagline reads ‘Our customers believe what goes on their skin is as important as what goes in their bodies.’

With natural beauty responsible for around 15% of Holland & Barrett’s total sales, this is an important campaign, and one the retailer has reason to push - as a leader in banning microbeads from the products it stocks, and a vocal advocate of cruelty free and paraben free products too, clean beauty could mean big business. With the right strategy, Holland & Barrett are well positioned to make waves in the wellness market.



Mastercard’s latest campaign sees the payments brand promote family time through footy, as part of their UEFA Champions League relationship. With the aim of getting kids to ditch the tablet and experience the outdoors, the execution is where this campaign really differs. In mid-April 2018, 1,000 exclusive UEFA Champions League-branded footballs were given away from a giant billboard-styled “vending machine” in a park in Ealing, London. Each time a free football was taken from the 10m-long wall by passers-by, another one would magically appear in its place for the next soon-to-be-owner. The activation humanises the corporate brand, and brings its UEFA partnership to life in a tangible, impactful way.


Mental health – Lynx #IsItOkForGuys

The major deodorant brand has successfully repositioned itself away from previous ‘the Lynx effect’ messaging through a commitment to its partnership with Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). That Lynx chose to use its considerable platform in 2016 to raise awareness of male suicide rates through its ‘Bigger Issues’ campaign is commendable; for a two week period, digital screens were set up to reflect trivial topics of conversation that were dominating social media at the time, while discussions of mental health were side-lined. Utilising a real-time element, topics were specifically tailored to regional locations across the UK, and regularly updated to reflect the statistic that a man takes his own life every two hours.

In 2017, Lynx then launched #isitokforguys, a search-driven campaign demonstrating how guys are hiding behind their screens to ask the questions they need answers to. With Lynx ambassadors such as Anthony Joshua answering (yes, men can wear jewellery, yes men can cry), Lynx provides answers in a safe space. By committing budget to their CALM partnership, Lynx have improved their own brand reputation, while raising awareness surrounding an important cause.

What’s next for wellness?

With clean living and self-care so top of mind, we can expect more products outside of the traditional remit to turn to wellness when it comes to activations and partnerships. From Lloyds Bank’s recent mental health TV spot, to Dove’s self-esteem campaign, to Always #LikeAGirl campaign, or Lynx’s CALM digital partnership – big brands are conducting research and listening to the results. The outcome is marketing endeavours that feed back into the bottom line through deeper brand connections, transcending tactical sales; beyond this, these outside-the-box strategies that have real, positive impact far outside of the boardroom. 

The way that people view themselves in relation to the products they purchase and the ethics they condone is in flux, and we should be pleased brands are taking note as they look to get their share of the pie. It’s an exciting time for the marketers who rise to meet the challenge; hats off to those who honour the consumer by formulating a strategy that puts them at the centre.  


Claire Scott