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The next era of wellness should focus on accessibility

by Ana Lopez
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Nicole Dunn is the CEO of Dunn Pellier Media, Inc; PR for the fitness, health and wellness industry.

People are bombarded with advertisements. I know when I’m online I get a series of ads all in the wellness area with green powders, workout clothes, 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 be at the forefront of wellness.

The healthiest state in America as of 2020 (by obesity) was Colorado, with the least healthy being Mississippi. In 2019, Vermont was the state that ate the most vegetables, with the lowest state being Kentucky.

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

If you’re sane and hopeful like me, you may be as shocked as I was when you heard that projection. Isn’t wellness as powerful as we thought? What needs to change to make health a priority for more people?

Why are we not getting healthier as a collective?

The US faces challenges in health care and income

In a study of 11 high-income countries, the US ranked first for money spent on health care, but last in measuring health outcomes. We seem to spend the most and heal the least. This is partly because our healthcare system is based on treating disease, not cultivating health and wellness.

Preventive care is a cornerstone of the wellness movement. With the rapid growth of the wellness industry, you would think that preventive care and education about healthy lifestyle choices would be more widespread. But there seem to be entire segments of the population that have barely been affected by the wellness movement. As someone who believes in the power of preventive care and healthy living, I want wellness to move forward so that we can hopefully change our destiny regarding the aforementioned projection.

Wellness has made more of an impression among the wealthy, who buy the often expensive wellness products and services (which are rarely covered by traditional health insurance). Wealthier populations can afford diagnostics that try to solve chronic health problems before they arise. And they have more capital to invest in biohacking methodologies, which have the power to get to the root of problems before they become seriously problematic. Less affluent Americans wait for the doctor provided for them for that seven-minute office visit that never really addresses the root cause.

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

How can brands better lead Americans to become healthier?

As someone who has closely followed the wellness movement for 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 are unable or unwilling to spend on expensive wellness products and services.

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

We need to make wellness easier in everyday life. Why not create programs with products for people who haven’t made healthy change? Community is important in helping people experience wellness and making it more accessible to the masses. People often won’t make drastic lifestyle changes unless they feel they have to. So let’s make the integration of preventive health practices less drastic.

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 lifestyle changes with little investment associated with your offering. The work of dr. Andrew Huberman can be a good place to find inspiration. Huberman preaches easy, accessible tricks like getting sunlight in your eyes in the morning and turning off screens at night to support circadian rhythms.

It can be a little scary to think about the future of health in America. But wellness brands are in a unique position to welcome more people to a healthy lifestyle that puts preventive care at the center. We need to accommodate consumers where they are, both financially and in terms of convenience. It’s becoming more and more effective to do what’s accessible instead of having the most sophisticated, complex offering.

Another way to lower the barriers to a wellness lifestyle that I’ve discussed is to emphasize being imperfectly active rather than being a total athlete.

Let’s motivate those on the cusp of well-being by painting a picture of what a healthier life looks like. Brands win by accessing a whole new pool of consumers, and America wins by getting healthier for good.

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