Five Considerations on the Health & Wellness Shopper Journey
Journey mapping today reveals the many paths consumers take and touch points they encounter on their way to the sale. In the health and wellness category, the increase in digital and social influences has made it challenging for brands to pinpoint critical junctures on the path to purchase.
There are many unique aspects to the consumer purchase journey in health & wellness. Health and wellness shoppers no longer routinely move through an expected collection of touch points, but rather navigate a path influenced by real people, including a variety of ‘credentialed’ experts, sharing information and experiences. The steadfast, and newly emerged health and wellness influencers, are highly credible and influential both online and in-person. These health and wellness influencers are experienced at dealing with intimate and emotional matters, where quality of life issues, wellbeing concerns, and even mortality can be part of the shopper journey and purchase decision process.
Some 89% of consumers agree, “taking personal responsibility for one’s health is the best way to stay healthy.” Consumers play out this reality in the trillion dollar global industry of the Health & Wellness marketplace, dominated by beauty and anti-aging, fitness and mind + body exercise, health eating, nutrition and weight loss products and services, and more. These are huge categories with many specific considerations for understanding the shopper journey.
Five things to consider when journey mapping for health and wellness brands:
1. Today’s H&W Consumer. Today’s consumers are conscious about their health, and many are actually proactive about maintaining or improving it. Yet, this is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. There are significant differences in how actively consumers work to sustain their, and their family’s health, and wellbeing. Segmenting your brand’s consumer base is critical in understanding, finding and mapping your shoppers. Although there are other credible segmentation models, NMI has a widely used model that we like. They score consumers into five segments—Well-beings, Food Actives, Magic Bullets, Fence Sitters and Eat, Drink and Be Merries—based on how proactive and involved they are in improving their health. NMI has been tracking the evolution of consumer attitudes and behaviors on health and wellness since 1999 and has over 50K Nielsen Homescan panelists.
• Well-beings: They are the most health proactive, focused on prevention through any means including healthy eating, supplements, and other products.
• Food Actives: This segment includes the most mainstream healthy consumers. They maintain their health through healthful eating and managing their weight.
• Magic Bullets: This segment has a lower commitment to health and is looking for quick, easy solutions.
• Fence Sitters: They are “wannabe” healthy and are considered health strivers.
• Eat, Drink and be Merries: This group is the least healthy-minded. They are not concerned about health or healthy eating, and are not educated about health solutions.
2. Proliferation of Online and In-person Resources Related to H&W. Health-minded consumers actively seek out information and resources for themselves and their families that will allow them to better understand health conditions, how to prevent them and how to maintain wellbeing. Beyond their local health and wellness providers, consumers draw on their social networks and subscribe to newsletters and blogs to find trusted, relevant sources. Healthcare providers (HCPs) are getting used to these additional inputs. “While some of the information available online may not be credible, applicable or accurate for a particular individual, we must listen to patient concerns without being judgmental,” Susan Weiner, a certified diabetes educator, says.”
Health & Wellness Resources Used By Consumers:
• Professionals: Health-care professionals are critical influencers in a consumer’s purchase journey, whether they are digital influencers with a popular blog, authors, TV personalities or HCPs providing treatment to their patients. Data shows that health professionals are the most trusted source for information about one’s wellbeing. Studies indicate that when it comes to nutrition, physical activity and weight loss, consumers trust health professionals to provide the most accurate information.
• Practitioners: Wellness practitioners and healthy lifestyle advocates provide valuable practical guidance on healthy lifestyle choices, behavior change strategies and how to stick with a new routine. They can range from a Certified Personal Trainer to a Holistic Health Coach to a blogger who focuses on special diets such as gluten-free, vegetarian or dairy-free.
• Places: Physical locations where consumers get access to products and information on improving their health are clearly influential in increasing purchase consideration and even motivating a sale. These include resources at retail locations such as pharmacists, store nutritionists, as well as community centers and farmer’s markets.
• Media: Any media that provides information or perspectives on your health can be highly influential including websites, newsletters, magazines, TV shows and many others. Online and offline sources are often used together. For example, 84% of patients use both online and offline sources for hospital research.
3. Health Issues are Complex. When working to improve one’s health, we are often dealing with a combination of issues or needs that are unique and not simple to solve. Comorbidities, or multiple chronic conditions that occur within the same person at the same time, and/or practical matters can create a barrier to the effectiveness a specific product or treatment. In the end, consumers are looking for ways to solve their health problems and improve their wellbeing. These kinds of practical dynamics can throw off a marketer’s view of what is driving or suppressing purchases among certain consumers.
4. The Caretaker Effect; How Decisions are Made. Caretakers play a role as the decision maker for their loved ones’ health. Parents make decisions on what to buy for their kids, adult children care for aging parents, a spouse purchases healthy alternatives for their loved one. It is critical to understand the dynamics of the buying decision and who has a role in making the choice of product, brand and channel in which it is purchased.
5. Health is a Lifelong Process. Unlike other categories, health and wellness is a lifelong process that can be filled with dips and valleys throughout a person’s life. A consumer’s life stage is a driver of what products and services are relevant and prioritized. Relationship, workplace and family dynamics take hold at different junctures, reinforcing or getting in the way of specific healthy attitudes and behaviors. Building brand awareness, consideration and loyalty in health & wellness categories should be seen as a journey with consumers, not a one-off marketing push.
With more consumers taking responsibility to improve their health, it is not surprising that many are turning to influencers for information and answers. We have found that “credentialed” health and wellness influencers with their implied expertise is effective in seeding brands along the health and wellness shopper journey, providing consumers with the information and perspective they need in making their purchase decisions.
Julie Landy is a Managing Partner at Wellness Amplified, an influencer marketing company focused on the health and wellness vertical. Wellness Amplified partners healthcare professionals, wellness practitioners and healthy lifestyle advocates with brands that contribute to a healthier lifestyle.