Holistic Health: Tech companies (re)claim wellness
Health and fitness marketing appeals to consumers’ desire to apply wellness thinking to various facets of their lives. In the health and fitness industry, “health” and “fitness” are literal. In other industries, they can be metaphorical. Although rooted in fitness, health and wellness metaphors are ubiquitous and apply not only to consumers’ minds and bodies but also to the rest of their lives.
In our holistic health research, we look at how this is happening in insurance, financial services, and telecom. These industries are using health-based themes in marketing, allowing consumers to track their progress, give personalized plans and encourage them to be proactive.
In the last part of a three-part series, we take a look at the technology industry. Tech companies are nestling their products in notions of health, using wellness as a metaphor to make their products even more appealing.
Theme 1 – Tracking
Consumers simultaneously depend on and fear dependence on their digital devices. They want to access information—including data generated from their own habits—all the time; But, they also worry about the privacy and mental health implications of doing so.
To address these concerns, companies can promote how they’re partnering with consumers to glean data-driven insights that then serve consumers. Apple, for instance, has added tools like Screen Time, to make consuming its technology a “healthier” activity. In doing so, the company and others engaged in a balancing act of encouraging people to take a break from products while also encouraging their constant use.
Similarly, telecom providers made a case for increasing data plans by encouraging customers to keep track of data usage. For example, Sprint’s year-in-review email shows how telecom providers took a quantification-heavy approach similar to fitness brands, insurers, and banks to get people to feel ownership over their habits.
Theme 2 – Personalization
Tech companies tried to predict what consumers would do next: where they would travel, what they would buy and who they would call. They framed these activities as a partnership with consumers, thereby encouraging brand loyalty from consumers who appreciate the attention.
The Apple Card, for one, features multiple examples of a customized user experience. Applicants can see the card’s credit line and APR limit before the company does a hard inquiry on credit score. Additionally, Apple Card users can see how much interest they’ll save pay depending on their payment. By facilitating this, Apple gets to play a supportive role.
Recommendations are a key example of personalization. Much as health products use the body to recommend actions, Amazon uses shopping habits to recommend products. The kind of personalization all sorts of brands are after has its roots in Amazon’s shopping algorithms and “you may also like” sensibility. That’s come full-circle, as Amazon looks for more ways to engage shoppers with seemingly hand-crafted recommendations.
Theme 3 – Proactivity
Recommendations extended into proactivity-inducing marketing tactics. For instance, Google will soon give travel-bookers suggestions for dining and diversions, thereby keeping users loyal to Google’s travel app and also directing them to other apps in the Google ecosystem. Users get a double hit of proactivity—being encouraged to get out and explore, and making sure that Google leads the way.
Other companies used proactivity-based messaging to tell consumers to make sure their tech itself was healthy. AT&T, for instance, encouraged recipients to “check the health of [their] network.” With this phrasing, the company humanized internet networks, thereby getting consumers to care about them the way they might care about fellow humans.
What we think
Across sectors, consumers want tech to work on their behalf. That means, increasingly, they want tech to contribute to their health, whether physical, financial or otherwise. Tech companies have noticed and are marketing their products as tools that can help consumers lead better, more productive lives.
Because tech is so all-encompassing, other, non-tech-specific sectors—including financial services, insurance, and telecom—should keep this in mind, especially as their products increasingly rely on digital tools. By showing the cause and effect of new digital tools in their marketing, companies can narrow in on what benefit they provide to consumers.
This also brings up opportunities for brand voice and positioning. Companies in non-tech sectors could perhaps take the lead to show how their security protects customers the best—an enticing move given recent data breaches. Or perhaps companies can show how their algorithms provide top-notch planning for consumers, providing a long map of financial readiness.