19 Jun Dr Nadine Cameron on how brands can tap into the new wellbeing
Dr Nadine Cameron, a wellbeing consultant, meditation teacher, academic, writer and faculty member of The School of Life gives us her take on how brands can create meaningful connections with consumers in the wellbeing space
Perfect skies, a lone figure on a mountaintop with outstretched arms, a couple in the dappled afternoon light taking time out to just to ‘be’. In marketing’s first shift in emphasis from objects to experiences, wellbeing was easy to represent and the associated consumer desire, easy to stimulate. The consumer felt: ‘if only I could make it to that mountain (with my Nikon) I could be at peace. My life would be richer if I just made more time to speak with my lover (via my iPhone).’ Now every second bank ad is trying to show you what you really want to do with your life.
But as certain segments of the market have become more affluent and better able to afford trips to remote mountains and with time to do yoga and eat slow food slowly, there is an awful growing realisation. The identified golden experiences don’t always make you happy. Not if you’re not in the right headspace. A summit can make you feel lonely, slow food can make you feel fat and time with your lover, irritated or inadequate. So, in the abstract, the neo-traditional wellbeing images lose their power.
Wellbeing isn’t what it used to be. That behemoth of the wellbeing sector, the fitness industry, is starting to realise that wellbeing is much about mindset as endorphins, and expanding its offering accordingly. Astute consumers are starting to figure out on their own that grasping the right ideas, the right perspective, might be the key to feeling good. A more intelligent understanding of wellbeing posits it as something nuanced, personal and inextricably bound up with one’s thinking, i.e. one’s concepts of self and the world (that stretch beyond the simplistic ‘it’s the little things in life that count’ and its permutations). If brands are to remain compelling in the next 5 to 10 years – and commit some good too – they need to encourage and foster optimism in the way consumers see themselves and their lives. The next task is to create an inviolable association between those perspectives and the brand. The new wellbeing focuses not just on what consumers have or what they do, but how they mentally construct these. The smartest brands will work out the very cognitive constructs that help people attain the deepest sense of happiness.
Dr Nadine Cameron is a wellbeing consultant with Body Map as well as a meditation teacher, academic, writer and occasional performer. She has a particular interest in the theoretical and practical intersections of wellbeing and the body, of emotional intelligence and community, and of art and conceptual transformation. She wrote the groundbreaking book Social Work and the Body (Palgrave Macmillan) that looks at the mutual usefulness of neuroscientific and social theories on the body for social scientists.