With job stress high and money tight, women refocus on health, says survey

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The percentage of women surveyed that said they're buying prescription medications was way up in 2010 – to 64% from 48% in 2009 – a jump the survey's sponsors, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness and Time Inc.'s Health, said points to a recessionary refocusing on personal health with great potential for healthcare marketers.

They dubbed the phenomenon “The Me-covery,” and Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness head Ned Russell called it “a new consumer era.”

“Unlike one year ago, when in the grip of the great recession consumers defined their own wellness mostly in terms related to economic security, today they're defining wellness through lifestyle choices that have them feeling and looking better,” said Russell. “We're seeing a pronounced lifestyle shift that we believe will have longevity.”

The agency and the publisher based their conclusions on an online survey that garnered around a thousand responses from US adult women. Ninety-two percent of respondents said they continued to feel negatively impacted by the economy, but 64% were committed to making a positive change and taking better care of themselves through diet and exercise as well as “looking good to feel good and having fun. That's a marked change from 2009, when they were in survival mode, said the survey's authors.

Other findings include:

  • 54% of respondents said they're buying more healthy food, and 47% are buying more organic food despite the added expense
  • 74% of those most adversely affected by the economy said they are buying less fast food than in 2009
  • 48% are committed to working out more on their own and draw inspiration online from music, workout videos and interactive gaming systems
  • 86% are doing more health research on their own (+16 points over 2009) and 79% now see their doctor regularly (+21 points)
  • 48% are buying more vitamins (+27 points)
  • Nearly half are buying more hair-care (47%), skin care (45%) and oral care products (51%) and they identify value for money and product quality as the key brand characteristics driving their purchases.

“It's about women taking matters into their own hands and becoming self-empowered to make real changes in the way they live,” said Saatchi Wellness chief strategy officer Johanna Skilling. “They're not only being healthier physically, but are living with a healthier, more positive attitude. Marketers, in turn, should re-examine the way they're talking to and engaging women during this important and exciting time for female consumers.”
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