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Breakthrough Brands: a new holistic wellness portfolio

People are investing in their health like never before. No longer the absence of illness, health is now holistic wellness: a view of life that celebrates play, serenity, joy, aging, and more. With increased access to medical data, tracking tech, and innovations in personalized medicine, the floodgates are open for people to take greater control of their health.

Like the builders of any great portfolio, today’s health consumers are into diversification. Sleep, meditation, fitness, supplementation, food—the zen-like interconnectedness that previously seemed hippie or counter culture has gone mainstream. And because we haven’t forgone modern living for a Thoreauian lifestyle, tools that help us understand, access, track, manage, and engage with health and achieve holistic wellness are in high demand.

“Disrupter” seems to be a ubiquitous adjective for brands shaking up the status quo. For a brand to breakthrough in health, it not only has to disrupt; it has to change behaviors and even impact future health outcomes. Interbrand’s 2016 picks for Breakthrough Brands are just the tip of the iceberg for this innovative, growing space, but they demonstrate the trends that brands will need to embrace to meet our growing demand for holistic wellness.

Tracking health, maintaining well

For previous generations, health was intrinsically linked to illness; the millennial population, however, has a much broader interpretation of health that includes doing things to feel good today and to retain that feeling in the future. They’re more likely to recognize the benefits of brands that help them manage their day-to-day health like Headspace, a digital meditation platform created by Andy Puddicombe who spent 10 years as a monk. Headspace not only guides people through a meditative practice; it also offers push notifications for moments of mindfulness throughout the day, keeping consumers engaged even if they aren’t utilizing the app.

Could tracking even stop illness before it starts? Digital therapeutics pioneer Omada Health is tackling costly chronic conditions with tracking to help prevent, rather than treat, ailments like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The founders wanted to replicate the experience of face-to-face care with a digital platform and sought to achieve both a human design and human user experience to ignite behavior change. And big data and healthcare are just getting started. Chinese brand iCarbonX believes the aggregation of health data will result in advanced health analysis and predications for individuals that will guide their health from birth onwards. Imagine knowing each health decision you should make—backed by data—at every step of your life.

Back to nature

Information overload has resulted in consumers who want straight talk from their health brands- less chemicals, more transparency. The things we put in our body should not be a mystery. Brazil’s do bem offers a trip to the juice bar in the convenience of a juice box. From matchas to detox blends to coconut water, ingredients are simple and pure. The brand also offers raw-based energy bars and its own tracker with app, broadening the consumer experience beyond just consumption. The trend to natural is expanding to other categories as well to accommodate consumer preferences, opening the door for feminine care brand LOLA to offer 100% hypoallergenic cotton tampons with BPA-free applicators. Why didn’t we ever think about what was in our tampons before? Bottom line, consumers want to play a bigger role in their health, but they are also drawn to brands that help them navigate this complex world—whether that means deciphering additives in beverages or adding an ingredients list to a tampon box.

Social brag, social benefit

Social media has had a tremendous impact on the sharing of health information, but it’s also expanded our competitive set and increased our appetite for flaunting our stuff. Fitness brands have capitalized on this, encouraging engagement, friendly contests, and giving consumers the ability to show off to the world what they’ve accomplished.  Peloton’s at-home spin bike mirrors the benefits and motivation of group fitness without the group—interactive classes, leaderboards, and myriad instructors.

Meanwhile, purpose-driven brands that operate from a place of social good are also attracting a lot of attention. More than 90% of millennals are inclined to switch to a brand aligned with a cause. Taboo-busting period underwear THINX was born from the realization that menstruation hinders the work, education, social lives, and self-esteem of women and girls around the world. In the United States, the brand is breaking down walls around conversations of women’s health and removing the anxiety of period protection. But in Uganda, THINX’s partnership with AFRIpads helps young girls get access to the menstruation products they need-something everyone can feel good about participating in and sharing with her social networks.

On-demand & members-only

The on-demand economy is alive and well in healthcare. LOLA, Headspace, Peloton, and high-touch healthcare provider One Medical Group all offer membership or subscription-based services. Consumer want what they want when they want it and where they want it. And One Medical discovered they’re willing to pay a little extra for convenience and comfort. The brand’s membership-based healthcare includes serene doctor’s offices, same day appointments, and patient-to-doctor email access. Addressing both a desire for natural health foods and personalization, German brand mymuesli lets consumers customize their cereal by adding the whole grains, nuts, fruits and other ingredients that they choose for their own mix. Considering that muesli was originally invented for hospital patients, mymuesli has turned the Swiss-cereal on its head and made a healthy food fun and engaging.

Revolution in traditional healthcare can take years, especially when facing regulatory challenges, trials, and tests. But as the world of health has expanded to non-traditional areas, innovative, accessible brands that speak to a vision of holistic wellness have an opportunity to impact consumer behaviors and define the vision and future of health for years to come.



Director of Marketing, InterbrandHealth