Creators are making wellness conversations cool

May 13, 2024
Emmy Liederman
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Through bolder messaging and the right creator partnerships, brands have given the health and wellness space a makeover. graphic by Lindsay Hill
@biancamatissetaylor, @vpettorelli and @sagenicole (left to right) 

While high school health class discussions about daily multivitamins once inspired nothing more than a classroom nap, creator marketing and online chatter have made way for an industry makeover. The rise of trendy supplement companies, from Kourtney Kardashian’s Lemme to the ubiquitous supplement brand Athletic Greens, speak to an interest among younger consumers in more than just instant gratification—especially when it comes to their health. 

This shift, fueled by the accessible content style of creators, certainly doesn’t stop at probiotic gummies. 

“COVID made people realize and appreciate that there is nothing more intimate than your health,” said Danny Gardner, social intelligence lead at Haleon, which owns brands including Emergen-C and Advil. “Among all age groups, there’s this idea that ‘If I invest in myself now, I can help myself in the future.'" 

Compared to other generations, Gen Z feels more comfortable sharing their health information: 66% use digital tools to monitor their health, according to management consultancy Oliver Wyman. This open-mindedness, coupled with their tendency to turn to social platforms for medical information, makes TikTok a gold mine for creator-led marketing that contrasts traditionally inaccessible or dry conversations. 

Crossing creator silos

In its latest report, influencer marketing agency Kyra outlined the “new beauty trifecta,” or overlap between beauty, skincare and wellness. While only 6% of Gen Z feels most knowledgeable about wellness, 16% want to expand their knowledge. As the lines between beauty, health and wellness blur, brands are grabbing consumers from established, social-first brands that they wouldn’t typically compete with—making the standard for aesthetically pleasing, accessible content even higher. 

Angelique Govantes, senior manager at communications agency Boden, said that when brands tap creators to align with adjacent verticals, they increase their chances of winning consumer loyalty.

“Specifically with the health and wellness industry, these brands need to go the extra mile to strategically build trust with these audiences beyond just awareness,” said Govantes. She raised the example of a running creator speaking to the benefits of using a certain sunscreen brand when training for a marathon.

The murkiness of the category, which can span from an exercise bike to a retinol cream, presents an opportunity for brands to pull creators from other categories and experiment with bolder messaging. Gardner, who views the notoriously unfiltered Duolingo TikTok account as an industry trailblazer,  stressed that brands have an opportunity to responsibly reconsider all the red tape that comes with healthcare marketing. 

“What Zaria Parvez did was completely change the paradigm around safe marketing and raised the question around what is OK,” said Gardner. “We’re always scared to take risks because legacy brands are not used to abrasive marketing, but consumers won’t be in your funnel if you’re not making them laugh.” 

Marrying education and entertainment 

The rise of “edutainment” is a perfect opportunity for healthcare brands to gain traction in the creator economy, said Govantes, whose agency has worked on campaigns for clients including Unilever and UnitedHealthcare. 

“We see this kind of approach receive notable engagement on TikTok,  where audiences rely on this platform not only for leisure but productive mental stimulation,” she said, adding that Gen Z holds all brands to the same regard when it comes to content innovation. 

While consumers care about accessibility and entertainment, creators are also challenging healthcare as an extension of fast fashion or drug store beauty. Dr. Matt Nejad, who has amassed more than 60 thousand Instagram followers as a biometric and aesthetic dentist, said much of his job is convincing people to spend more to get more. While the health and wellness space is picking up marketing tactics from other industries, creators and brands are still striking a  balance between accessibility and authority to keep consumer trust in check. 

“If after photos in dentistry look good, someone might already be sold, but the quality has nothing to do with how it looks on the surface,” said Nejad.  “I want to be informative and educational, and these platforms give you the ability to do both.”

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