New Science Supports Personalized Wellness

As we highlighted last month, there is a noticeable shift toward “wellness” in how consumers are thinking about their health. This shift has been reflected in how marketers of diet brands are reshaping their messages, and now we can see it in the science of health itself.

A study recently published in the International Journal of Obesity found that millions of Americans may be misclassified as either healthy or unhealthy due to an over-reliance on BMI, an outdated and imperfect measure of health.

Researchers looked at health information from more than 40,000 Americans who participated in a federal health study between 2005 and 2012, and they discovered that nearly half of overweight U.S. adults were "metabolically healthy." And on the flipside, more than 30 percent of normal-weight Americans were metabolically unhealthy.

The implications of this for marketers of healthy brands cannot be underestimated.

1.     The shift toward wellness is not just a marketing angle, it is supported by science. For brands to be relevant to wellness-conscious consumers, they must support a broad and varied approach to a healthy lifestyle—going beyond the health headline or claim.

2.     If you live by the science, you can die by the science. As we were once told by the head of R&D at a major CPG company, “the science doesn’t change, just our understanding of it.” Relying too heavily on limited clinical research or claim language can become a risk as our understanding of the science of nutrition and wellness evolves.

3.     The trend toward personalized wellness will only gain more momentum. As consumers are exposed to more data that supports the notion that their health & wellness is unique to them—and that historical measures such as BMI are not as useful as once believed—they will become more proactive in managing their own wellness (as they themselves define it) and will aggressively seek out solutions that enable them to meet their unique needs.

As the marketer of a health & wellness brand, the evolution of the health-conscious consumer into a wellness-conscious consumer should be embraced. A savvy consumer wants more information, more engagement, and more options—all areas where healthy brands can deliver solutions.