News & Views

McCann Truth Central / Truth About Wellness

by Contagious Team

The newest study in McCann Truth Central's 'Truth About...' series shows consumers are ready for brands to help them along the path to wellness.

The biggest obstacle to wellness? It may very well be ourselves.

Yesterday in New York, McCann Truth Central released the results of its Truth About Wellness study, sharing insights into how consumers think about wellness, delving into the 'friends' and 'enemies' of wellness.

Along with time and external factors, the report identified willpower as one of the biggest weak spots in the wellness equation. Ate something you shouldn't have? Only yourself to blame. Didn't go for that run? That's your problem.

'Everyone thinks they have this devil inside their head that is trying to tempt them to do things they're trying to resist doing,' says Laura Simpson, global director of McCann Truth Central. 'People can be quite hard on themselves.'

Which, of course, creates a bad cycle, as Weight Watchers CEO David Kirchhoff notes. 'You are most likely to be successful if you believe you will be successful. People who believe they are going to fail are simply more likely to fail.'

That's where brands come in. The report surveyed thousands of consumers in Brazil, China, South Africa, Turkey, Japan, the US and the UK, found 94% of respondents agree there's a role for brands in supporting wellness, and 57% wish they had more support in leading a healthy life.

Tech as Angel and Devil /

Consumers are increasingly consulting the internet and other tech for help in living better. Across the survey's geographic range, 40% of people feel more in control of health because of technology, and 71% of Brazilians embrace technology over instincts when managing future wellness. The report identifies a so-called 'internet sandwich' wherein 50% of patients consult the internet before seeing a doctor, and 54% consult the internet after a doctor's visit.

The relationship between tech and wellness is a tricky one, though. In some cases, people think technology is making us worse off. For example, 18% of respondents in Brazil think Facebook is making them fat. A full third of the globe says the internet makes them more anxious about health.

Advice for Brands /

As the research was presented, McCann Truth Central synthesized the report and offered advice to brands. Key takeaways? Brands should focus their efforts on one simple habit, sponsoring directed initiatives and encouraging consumers to start with small changes rather than overwhelming them with lifestyle overhauls.

Additionally, brands should focus on integrating wellness into prescribed daily routines and practices. 'Wellness shouldn't be something outside of daily life,' said Simpson. 'Wellness should be a way of life.' She advised brands to 'reimagine wellness technology in a human context' and 'position wellness in the everyday.'

Expert Insight /

A panel including Kirchhoff, Huffington Post founder Arianna HuffingtonCoca-Cola's vice president of living well Celeste Bottorf, and StartUp Health co-founder Unity Stoakes discussed how brands can leverage the insights from the study.

Kirchhoff stressed the point of integration, saying brands must become allies in consumers' daily lives. Key to that is promoting wellness initiatives not as deprivations but as better alternatives. 'When you can make wellness cool and fun, and not symbolic with deprivation and torture, it becomes not a lifestyle you have to live with but a lifestyle you embrace,' he said.

Huffington, who recently launched an app called GPS For The Soul and whose Huffington Post features 18 wellness-related subsections, thinks it is a perfect time for brands to get involved in wellness - both physical and mental.

'Three trends are coming together: individuals are empowering themselves, our healthcare system is more and more dysfunctional every day and unsustainable. 85% of healthcare costs go towards treating chronic, unpreventable diseases. The third thing is the growing recognition that it's not enough to look at the body. If we don't also deal with our mind and our spirit, we won't be able to deal with stress.'

Huffington also touched on what she called a paradox of wellness technology, a thread which runs throughout the study, reprising a position she took in a presentation at the Cannes Lions 2012. 'If tech is the Garden of Eden, there is a snake in it: hyperconnectivity. We think multitasking is saving us time, but there are studies showing it's making us more stressed and less efficient. The paradox I have embraced is that you can use tech to disconnect from tech,' she said, citing Apple's 'Do Not Disturb' feature and apps like Freedom, which keeps users offline for up to eight hours at a time. It is unclear which of the 18 health and wellness channels on Huffington Post feature precise instructions to manage this information overload.

When asked if customers have a mandate to devote themselves to wellness, or if it's simply a business decision, Huffington saw the two as interconnected. 'To the extent that brands used to get customers by getting people to believe things, we're seeing a real shift now. Brands are trying to change habits.'

Perhaps Stoakes put it best: 'Eventually every company will be a wellness company.'

Brands Doing It Right /

Throughout the McCann Truth Central presentation, a number of brands were called out for capitalizing on wellness trends. Here are a few of the best examples:

Weight Watchers: Through its Weight Watchers 360° program, Weight Watchers provides customers with simple tools with which to change small habits and encourage real change. As we wrote in Contagious 30, Weight Watchers is in the process of changing the company's public perception as a dated and irrelevant brand. 'We want to equip people with tools and support networks that allows them to make peace with a rough neighborhood,' said CEO Kirchhoff. 'We're viewing ourselves more and more as a healthcare company. As healthcare moves toward greater emphasis on preventive care, we're positioning ourselves to be good community partners.

L'Oreal: With its The Next Level app for Xbox 360, L'Oreal identified an underserved niche in wellness - young, female gamers. Although Xbox may be a surprising platform for a beauty product, L'Oreal created new ways for consumers to find its brand, customize their experience and receive tailored wellness solutions. The app, for which L'Oreal partnered with BrightLine and Lucky Magazine, gives users everything from personalized beauty tips and weather-based beauty recommendations to the ability to earn rewards and coupons through interaction within the app. When it launched in October of last year, the app was billed as the first female-focused app on the Xbox platform

Molico: The Brazilian Nestlé-owned brand took a different tack from its competitors by focusing on the wellness aspect of daily life in its Atletas Do Dia A Dia campaign. In print and video spots, Molico portrayed women as 'day-to-day athletes,' making sport of everyday activities like walking unruly dogs, running up stairs, lifting up kids, and running to make it to a meeting. With the tagline 'Viva todos os seus movimentos' --  'Live your every move' -- Molico effectively integrated its brand into the idea of everyday wellness.

Nike: It's the global brand most identified with wellness, according to the report, and the authors say Nike has created innovation in wellness that provides real utility to consumers. Through products like the Nike FuelBand, the company has made wellness sexy and fashionable, making it a big winner in the category. We've written about FuelBand in Contagious 30 and Contagious 32.

Download McCann Truth Central's Truth About Wellness study here.