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Marketing Brand Strategy Health & Wellness

Health without compromise: Innocent, Oatly, and the rise of ‘enjoyable wellness’

By David Gray | Head of Healthcare Brand Strategy

1HQ Brand Agency

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February 7, 2024 | 8 min read

The ‘enjoyable wellness’ trend, says 1HQ’s David Gray, is all about health without sacrifice. Oatly and Innocent are staples – but expect further growth this year.

A coffee with latte foam art

Enjoyable wellness: a refreshed trend for 2024? / Shayna Douglas via Unsplash

Today’s ultra-demanding consumers are more particular than ever before. They’re looking for food, drink, and health supplements that are wholesome, delicious, and socially responsible. According to McKinsey, half of consumers now list healthy eating as a top priority.

Meanwhile, achieving a range of health goals has become as important to these individuals as ‘traditional’ food goals like losing weight. That means cutting back on processed food and sugar, as well as on fat, salt, and, for some, red meat. This reflects an increasing awareness of the impact of what we eat on our health and the way we feel.

‘Enjoyable wellness’ is a trend that reflects this moment, which looks for foods and healthcare products that come without compromise. Unlike traditional dieting and health food, which tend to sacrifice flavor, enjoyable wellness items deliver on every level: taste, healthiness and the feelgood factor.

This is a movement that’s picking up momentum. We’re starting to see global brands implementing new product development (NPD) projects that follow this trend. This doesn’t always mean changing the products themselves but, often, just the way they’re marketed – by, for example, pushing previously anonymous ingredients, such as turmeric, to the fore because of their perceived health credentials.

Living well for longer

Back in 2015, a report revealed that the proportion of the global population over 60 will almost double by 2050, going from 12% to 22%. However, living a longer life is arguably only a positive if you can manage to maintain good health through those later years.

With health and care services already at stretching point in many countries, more of us are putting an emphasis on self-care as we look for ways to add quality to quantity of life. Western society has traditionally used medicines and surgery to correct health problems when they occur. Enjoyable wellness, on the other hand, relates to a desire to be proactive rather than reactive in health.

The value of this market is enormous. Back in 2020, the nutrition and weight loss sector was estimated to be worth nearly $700bn globally, while the wider health and wellness industry is valued at a staggering $5tn.

Enjoyable wellness’s impact on marketing strategy and design

Smoothie brand Innocent Drinks arguably made the most conspicuous move toward enjoyable wellness at the turn of the century, with packaging and messaging focused on short, simple lists of natural ingredients.

A more recent poster child for the movement is Swedish oat milk brand Oatly. Its astounding success has revolved around a simple but ingenious repositioning away from being a clinical solution designed to combat high cholesterol. Instead, it has adopted a more human approach, setting itself up against a different competitor: cows.

As a result of this smart thinking (and simply by making healthy oat milk appetizing and fun), Oatly has grown to become a superbrand. At the time of its 2021 IPO in New York, the brand was valued at $10bn; in 2022 it took $800m in revenue.

The Good Gut offering from high street health retailer Boots is another example of a brand making an effort to turn its back on an earnest healthcare positioning in favor of something more fun and accessible. This is currently the largest own-brand collection of gut health products on the market with a range that promises benefits including mental focus, skin and hair health.

As well as adopting a light-hearted packaging design, the language Boots uses is a long way from the clinical ‘doctor speak’ one might expect from such products: “A healthy gut can also help your mind feel great too. This is due to the 100 million neurons that are found in our gut that can potentially influence our brain and mood – ever heard people refer to the gut as your second brain? Now you know why.”

And it seems that this engaging approach is working: back in 2021, Boots reported that its sales of gut health products increased by 59%.

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Packaging wellness

Here at 1HQ, we were also early adopters of enjoyable wellness, before anyone had even coined the phrase. In 2009, when Heinz Tomato Ketchup was beginning to run out of steam with year-on-year decline across the globe, we were called in to give the pack design its first facelift in over 100 years.

We seized this opportunity to develop the ‘grown not made’ positioning and introduced natural cues, in the shape of the tomato vine, onto the iconic label. A subtle but momentous enhancement that soon resulted in a 12% uplift in sales.

‘Friendly bacteria’, in the form of probiotics, has been another standard bearer of the enjoyable wellness movement. We recently created a new visual language for Optibac, the probiotics supplement brand, that carefully walked the tightrope between clinical medicine and aspirational lifestyle.

The yoga image shows balance, strength and confidence with the radial yellow lines suggesting natural, healthy energy emanating from the gut outwards. Our new and simplified branding has proved overwhelmingly popular with trade and consumers alike.

Marketing Brand Strategy Health & Wellness

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1HQ Brand Agency

1HQ is a global brand agency. For over 30 years, 90% of our business has come from people happy to spread the word about their experience working with us, and the powerful impact we’ve had on their brand. We help define and communicate a brand’s Meaningful Difference by identifying and amplifying the attributes and assets that maximise its relevance, credibility, and distinctiveness. In doing so, we ask and answer the hard questions that determine how brands should be positioned, how they should innovate, and how they are best represented through strategy, design and communication.

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