The future of health marketing and how brands can get involved

Health marketing has been stepping into the sights of mainstream brands in recent years, with Cannes introducing the health category only three years ago where This Girl Can won its first Lion. However the question on everyone’s lips is, why did it take so long?

Health marketing is experiencing real change with the maturing of technological innovation and the data available to health practitioners, brands and marketers who know an increasing amount about the world's health issues and lifestyles. Though artificial intelligence (AI) is still considered to be in its infancy, recent research has claimed that worldwide healthcare AI Market will exceed $5.5bn in 2022.

So there is no doubt that it is a sector becoming more attractive to marketing professionals.

Mark Evans, innovation director at Langland, explains in previous years people in the UK didn’t see it as a “sector anyone wanted to work in.”

He says how it used to be the case that the health marketers were usually ignored but now, thanks to Cannes, the perception is changing to help the industry be seen as a wellness sector and in turn make it a more appealing sector to work in.

He said: “It used to be pretty easy to win awards with average work, but Cannes has set a real bar and the judges take it seriously.

“More mainstream brands are entering into these categories, because there is a natural shift. People want to make another contribution other than selling crisps. They want to do more and get people to be more healthy.”

Should any brand jump on the bandwagon?

Dick Dunford, creative partner at Looped Unlimited/Health Unlimited group, adds that while health has become a trend at the moment, it is not one for just any brand to get involved with. “If you try to ram yourself into a position that people don’t think you should be in then people will react quite openly and honestly.

“There has to be a real valid reason as to why you are entering this space and you have to do it with real integrity. Consumers want to live longer and be healthier.”

One sector which trying to get its foot in the door for health marketing is alcohol. Shara Tochia, co-founder of Dose - an app which provides on-site employee healthcare services, said: “We have seen so many different booze brands trying to enter this market. It’s trendy to be fit and healthy and to be aware of your body, so we are seeing alcohol-free sprits and 0% beers.”

Gareth Shaw, general manager EMEA at Pulsepoint, said the crossover between brands and the health sector could improve. For example, Brazillian football team Salvador removed the red from their football strip in a bid to get more people out to donate blood.

“It is a great example of health related marketing, people like to see a progression. There is a visual way to see that you are having an impact.”

The rabbit and the hare race

As with every other sector, GPDR is a something that the health marketers are having to prepare for and Shaw suggested that the health market is still a bit behind the wider industry.

He said: “Being behind is potentially a good thing because we can now go privacy by design.

“Everything we can build, we can build into GPDR and future proof it. Whereas you might have other sectors that are doing cool stuff and for next year its not so much about innovation, its about making sure they are not breaking any laws.

“So it is a big challenge but it is a great opportunity to build something that could last.”

The comment came from a panel session held by The Drum focusing on the latest trends in health marketing. The Drum hosts monthly sessions, which are free to attend and can be found on The Drum Diary.

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Jenny Cleeton

Jenny Cleeton is The Drum's video and social media content creator working across the The Drum's digital platforms based in London. She produces, films, presents and edits the title's social video output while also reporting on the creative marketing sector.

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