As consumers continue to seek out wellness products and services, influencers are outpacing brands in terms of delivering on expectations.

A recent Ogilvy report found that 77% of consumers deem wellness to be ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ important to them. Still, 75% of consumers feel that brands could do more for their personal wellness, with only 46% adding that they think brands consider their wellness to be a priority.  

Additionally, influencers have embraced the principles of ‘social wellness,’ whereby consumers are seeking like-minded communities for social connection and moral support as they embark on their wellness journey. This contrasts with how some companies have pursued the wellness market simply as a way to sell more of their products.

The report estimated that the global wellness economy is now $4.5 trillion and growing twice as fast as the broader economy. In recent months, the health and wellness space has been a hotspot for influencers of all types, from social media stars to celebrities like the Kardashians and Kate Moss

As influencers have listened to what their followers are seeking in terms of wellness, they have adjusted their approach in kind, said Marion McDonald, APAC, global wellness practice lead at Ogilvy Health.

Instead of projecting a flawless, carefree life on social media, the most effective wellness influencers have rebranded. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, influencers have pivoted to empathize and connect with their followers regarding challenges related to social isolation and stress, she said. 

McDonald added that all brands, regardless of industry, are now expected to have some wellness offering for their consumers. 

“Every brand has some aspect where they are evaluated around how they impact our wellbeing. All brands are in the wellness business now,” she said. 

One other consideration for brands in wellness is acknowledging the diversity of its target consumers and producing marketing that appeals to them. McDonald said that Gen Z consumers expect representation of all kinds in advertising but not in a ‘tokenistic’ way. She praised medical marketing for excelling at this task compared to other industries.

“The U.S. does a much better job of it in medical marketing, right through to clinical study design and how people are recruited for medical trials,” she said. “The point being here is that it’s not just the visible differences, it’s about hearing the voices of those people.”

Once brands recognize that wellness offerings are a necessity for consumers, bridging the ‘wellness gap’ becomes the next strategic step.

McDonald said that brands need to understand that there has been a sea shift in terms of approaching wellness and advertising in the space. This also means that brands choosing to partner with influencers need to be mindful of the message they’re trying to send to consumers and position their brand in a genuine way.

“If you as a brand go to wellness influencers, which is obviously the best way to embed your brand message, you need to give them the freedom to tell this story more authentically,” she said. “If I’m an influencer using your skincare product, your prescription drug or your health monitoring equipment, I have to be able to insert it into a perfectly normal routine as part of the wellness journey. Not a staged post that no longer cuts it and makes brands look out of touch.”