Thought Leadership

Should brands be doing things differently when it comes to promoting healthy lifestyles?

As consumers wise up to wellness washing brands may need to rethink how they market a healthy lifestyle

Georgie Moreton

Deputy Editor, BITE Creativebrief


As January draws to a close, the health and wellness resolutions brought in by the New Year become habit for some and fall to the waste side for others.

The wellness campaigns of this New Year have taken a very different approach to the weight loss DVDs of a bygone era. Increasingly wellness is being positioned as an additive to life,  rather than a restriction. Heineken 0.0 sought the help of Gareth Bale to show that alcohol-free beer gives people going sober no reason to miss out on time spent with friends, while The Gym Group used humour to show that wacky at home fitness methods are no match for the value of high quality, conveniently located gyms.

With consumers tired of the get fit quick messages doused in guilt and shame, progressive brands are doing things differently. As Rory McEntee, Brand and Marketing Director at Gymbox explains: “we have always tried to debunk the cliched fitness bullshit and our campaigns always try to challenge the norm.”

As consumers wise up to wellness washing should brands be doing things differently when it comes to promoting healthy lifestyles?

Vish Rana

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Associate Director


Embrace authenticity in your approach – consumers are savvier than ever; they have a heightened awareness and an ability to discern insincerity – ergo they spot wellness washing from a mile away.

In what is a ridiculously competitive landscape where every consumer choice matters, it is crucial to demonstrate genuine understanding of the real problems, issues, and concerns that people face when it comes to tackling issues around wellbeing, I.e. legitimately wanting to change lifestyles and sticking to it, having to shift mindset to make considered, educated choices to improve lives, shaking up routines that have been set in stone out of necessity, etc.

This stuff is hard and can be expensive, so brands should show empathy and offer tangible, realistic solutions that go beyond merely selling a product. By providing an experience that transcends the transactional, you tap into a real passion point of your audience, you provide added value and you cut through the guff – of which there is a lot of, this time of year.

In this way, you not only cultivate consumer loyalty but also establish your brand as a genuine partner in their wellbeing journey. This authenticity resonates with consumers on a deeper level, creating a stronger connection – which of course leads to better commercial impact.

Nicky Forest

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Managing Director


The wellness sector is set for huge growth driven by millennials and menopausals desperate to improve their health, fitness, appearance, sleep and mindfulness. My instagram feed is full of it brands telling me that their product will literally change my life. It’s seductive and it’s powerful, but almost always on closer inspection, it’s often a minefield of unsubstantiated claims grabbing at our insecurities and encouraging us to buy. The trouble is that consumers looking for wellness solutions are easy to sell to – they have a need and whichever brand tells them that they will fill that need in the most engaging way wins, as belief systems are suspended at the thought of a flatter stomach, brighter skin or a better night’s sleep. 

As consumers wise up, the brands that will win out will be the ones that engage in robust testing and rigorous research and data. Look at how Zoe set out to change our approach to eating by creating the largest nutrition study in the world with over 4m participants. From a communications point of view, its story happily sits in world leading science magazine, Nature, whilst at the same time being promoted relentlessly on Instagram. If you sign up to Zoe, you are reassured that you are part of a big medical science project but at the same time if you stick to your guns, you’ll be healthier at the end of it. It’s a win win. 

Aimee Luther

Aimee Luther The Liberty Guild.jpg

Managing Director

The Liberty Guild

I think consumers, quite rightly, call out brands when they practise one thing and clearly preach another. The issue is inevitable when you’re set up in an archaic way and retrospectively try to put out fires. The damage brands can inflict on themselves by attempting to tick boxes rather than believe and act on their rhetoric is huge and it’s time both brands and agencies took a good look at themselves and made real changes, not token gestures.

It starts in-house. When it comes to mental health wellbeing, it’s not enough to superficially paper over the cracks with ‘hope for the best’ signalling - the best work will only come from people operating in an environment in which they are supported and motivated.  And I genuinely believe that you get the best work from happy, cared-for souls. A bit like organic, free-range chickens.

For too long, the industry has been asking people to fit into their clunky, inflexible structures and work for a zillion hours a week to slashed budgets. The Liberty Guild is built on a globally distributed workforce, where people work where they want when they want - we don’t stipulate what this looks like, everyone’s circumstance is different. Clients love it because they get top work from energised professionals and the creatives love it because we’ve put their interests at the centre of everything we do.

Laura Kirkby-Jones

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Strategy Partner


I'm all for brands stepping up in the wellness game. With staggering statistics like 1 in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children facing mental health challenges annually in England, the need for support is undeniable. And it's not just me saying it—73% of consumers believe brands should be embracing wellness as part of their core mission and a whopping 66% think brands will need a wellness component to survive in the future.

Wellness isn't just about slapping a fancy claim on a product and calling it a day. It's about making a genuine difference in people's lives. It's about fostering healthier habits, promoting self-care, and nurturing overall well-being — physical, mental, social, and purpose-driven wellness. It’s just as applicable to a yoga brand as it to a Bank, people need financial wellness too. But only 46% of people feel like brands are actually helping them prioritise their wellness. That's a wake-up call if I've ever heard one.

First and foremost, brands need to build trust. Consumers want authenticity, transparency, and ingredients they can actually pronounce. Consumers are wising up to ‘scienceploitation’ and faux product claims and social media serves as a megaphone calling out brands that need to do better.   

Secondly, brands need to be in it for the long haul. This isn't about quick wins or making a fast buck. It's about forging genuine, long-term partnerships with consumers. Brands need to roll up their sleeves, understand the challenges people face in achieving wellness, and use their expertise to provide real solutions.

The wellness game isn't a passing fad; it's here to stay. It’s time to step up and be the partners people need on the journey. As long as brands demonstrate a genuine, long-term commitment, everyone stands to benefit.

* Stats are from Mind the mental health charity, and the Wellness Gap - a report done by Ogilvy Health and Wellness. 

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