The Next Era Of Wellness Needs To Focus On Accessibility

Nicole Dunn is the CEO of Dunn Pellier Media, Inc; PR for the fitness, health and wellness sector.

People are bombarded with ads. I know that when I’m online, I get an array of ads all in the wellness space showcasing green powders, activewear, bars, shakes, classes and weights. I often wonder what other Americans see in their feeds. This got me thinking about the state of Americans and their health and what brands can do to lead the way in wellness.

The healthiest state in America as of 2020 (based on obesity rate) was Colorado, with the least healthy being Mississippi. In 2019, the state that ate the most veggies was Vermont, with the lowest-ranking state as Kentucky.

Working in wellness, I assumed Americans were collectively becoming healthier. Although the wellness industry has grown to an estimated over $1.5 trillion, we still have work to do. Unfortunately, research projects that by 2030, nearly 50% of adults in the U.S. will be obese.

If you’re health-minded and hopeful like me, you may be just as shocked as I was to hear that projection. Is wellness not as powerful as we thought? What needs to change to help make health a priority for more people?

Why aren’t we getting healthier as a collective?

US Faces Healthcare And Income Challenges

In a study of 11 high-income countries, the U.S. ranked first for money spent on healthcare, yet ranked last when measuring health outcomes. We seem to be spending the most and healing the least. This is partly because our healthcare system is based on treating illness, not on cultivating health and well-being.

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Preventative care is a cornerstone of the wellness movement. With the rapid growth of the wellness industry, you’d think preventative care and education around healthy lifestyle choices would be more widespread. But there seem to be whole swaths of the population who have barely been influenced by the wellness movement. As someone who believes in the power of preventative care and healthy living, I want to see wellness go further so we can hopefully change our fate in regard to the aforementioned projection.

Wellness has made a bigger splash among the wealthy, who buy the often-pricey wellness products and services (which are seldom covered by traditional health insurance). Wealthier populations can afford diagnostics that seek to get to the bottom of chronic health issues before they even happen. And they have more capital to invest in biohacking methodologies, which have the power to treat issues at the root cause before they become deeply problematic. Less-affluent Americans wait to see the doctor provided for them for that seven-minute office visit that never really gets to the root cause.

Wellness has also made a bigger splash in big cities such as Los Angeles, Denver, Austin, Miami and New York. Healthy restaurants, wellness centers and events thrive in these kinds of environments making wellness more accessible to the masses. But there are countless communities across the country where wellness is missing from the culture.

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How Can Brands Better Lead To Help Americans Get Healthier?

As someone who has been closely watching the wellness movement grow over the past 20 years, I believe we need to make wellness more accessible across the board. Accessibility also includes reasonably priced goods and services.

As a brand, how can you invite more people to experience a healthier lifestyle? What about making wellness more affordable? Most Americans can’t or won’t spend on high-ticket wellness products and services.

Since the start of the pandemic, 24% of surveyed Americans said they spend more on wellness. That same research found that Americans spend an average of $110 dollars per month on beauty, fitness and wellness and spend the most on vitamins/supplements, haircuts and skin care. Survey respondents spent an average of $30 on gym memberships each month.

We need to make wellness more convenient in everyday life. Why not create programs with products for people who haven’t incorporated healthy change? Community is important to help people experience wellness and make it more accessible to the masses. People often won’t make drastic lifestyle changes unless they feel like they have to. So, let’s make integrating preventative health practices feel less drastic.

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Brands can start bridging the gap with financially conservative individuals by sharing more about free or practically free ways to stay healthy. Speak online about low-investment lifestyle shifts that relate to your offerings. The work of Dr. Andrew Huberman may be a good place to find inspiration. Huberman preaches easy, accessible hacks like getting sunlight in your eyes in the morning and turning screens off at night to support circadian rhythms.

It can be a bit frightening to think about the future of health in America. But wellness brands are in a unique position to welcome more people into a healthy lifestyle that is centered around preventative care. We have got to meet consumers where they’re at—both in regard to finances and convenience. It’s becoming more impactful to do what’s accessible versus having the most high-tech, complex offering.

Another way to lower the barriers to a wellness lifestyle, which I’ve discussed, is emphasizing being imperfectly active over being an all-out athlete.

Let’s motivate those who are on the cusp of wellness by painting a picture of what a healthier life looks like. Brands win by gaining access to a whole new pool of consumers, and America wins by getting healthier for good.

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