Future of Brands: Media as medicine in the age of well-being
Think how disruptive it would be to use media to improve the health and well-being of customers, writes futurist Tracey Follows
Health and well-being is redefining the choices people are making in their lives: no longer a nice to have, health is becoming a real commercial driver. Consumers are often actively seeking new ways to embrace a more holistic lifestyle, choosing brands that help them better connect their mind, body and soul.
Brands are going to have to get on board and fully bake wellness into all of their products, services and experience. Especially when one considers that globally the market for health and wellness is expected to reach nearly £700bn by 2021.
Emerging values around health and well-being arrived along with Millennials but the next generation, Generation Z, are building on this to the point where there will be a widespread mainstream democratisation of health and wellness soon. Smoking and drinking is already not what it was and the core of a social experience for Gen Z/ and Millenials doesn’t necessarily lie in drinking but in other forms of socialising, like health and fitness.
Night clubs are dead but gym clubs are alive and kicking. The Ministry of Sound has expanded to also become the Ministry Does Fitness: a new space that aims to bring together the best of clubbing and exercise. Classes run from 6:45am to 8:00pm, and the space offers alcoholic cocktails alongside protein shakes, juices and coffee.
Well-being is thriving in physical spaces whether that be indoor gyms or outdoor festivals. But it's also thriving in virtual spaces. There is an explosion of virtual reality spaces where people can go to look after their minds as well as their bodies. The Infinity House, just one great example, is designed to make wellness accessible to all via its unique virtual world of health and well-being, where it offers 24/7 access to VR courses and meditative spaces.
But in the future the whole idea of one’s health will become a kind of currency, quite literally. There are already signals of change on the fringes. Take Sweatcoin for example. “We are a payment system built on physical movement, a loyalty scheme not based on money spent, but based on the number of calories you burn,” says Sweatcoin founder, Oleg Fomenko.
In the future your health status will be the way to unlock or access all sorts of everyday experiences, not just lower your insurance premiums. So important will it become that one has to rethink data privacy and permissions to include ‘personal health and well-being’ data.
Your health status will become as important as your wealth status.
Mental well-being and the time and space spent on oneself is becoming the biggest luxury of all. Right now, high-net-worth individuals are identified on the basis of their wealth but increasingly financial worth will no longer be considered the ultimate ambition, your peak performing physical and mental condition will be. And if you think that sounds fanciful, imagine where biometrics will go once wedded to your devices. Biometric data (already utilised in the iPhone) will become increasingly sophisticated, becoming embedded in our buildings and our clothing. Not only will biometrics authenticate your access to services, it will also verify how healthy you are; verify your emotional state and your mental well-being. And that is what will gain you access to premium luxury products and services.
This is uncharted territory for brands which until now have only ever delivered premiumisation through pricing. In the future they will be challenged to attract the healthy and not just the wealthy for their product to be perceived as a luxury at all.
Now media is on a journey of premiumisation too. After nearly two decades of digital commoditisation of most media content and media placement, publishers, advertisers and brands are all looking for better quality.
But if we really want to think disruptively and futuristically about media, we should be thinking more about the health harms of ‘bad’ media and the health benefits of ‘good’ media. Media is now environmental: on our streets, in our offices, on our transport systems and now on our dining tables, by our beds and in our pockets. It is all around us all of the time. And like any other environmental factor, we need to improve its ‘healthiness’.
Just like we have started to think about other environmental factors like cities causing us to become sick, we should think about the harm that media could do if unchecked. We are now starting to build cities that make us well. What if we created media that made us well too? Not only would no-one want or need an ad blocker, media would be in tune with the biggest trend of the next twenty, maybe fifty, years - health and well-being.
Think how disruptive it would be to think of your media as medicine.
To set out to make every interaction you have with a customer, make them feel less stressed, less anxious, and less overwhelmed.
It can be done. It just takes a different mindset. A healthier mindset. A mindset that envisions media to be a contributing factor to a person’s health and well-being. Something for which people in the future will be willing to pay more.
Tracey Follows is the founder of Futuremade and writes on the subject of strategic foresight each month for Mediatel