Anxiety-Consumerism becomes a marketing goldmine
According to Quartz, Millennials experience work-disrupting anxiety at twice the US average rate and Time magazine reports that more than 90% of Gen Z is stressed out. Savvy brands are plugging into this with wellbeing and mindfulness focused products, events and experiences, all tethered to their existing offerings to emphasize full commitment to consumers all-encompassing lifestyle needs.
As the world changes we’ve hit the breaking point, word is out – people are stressed. Fortunately today, it's becoming less taboo to talk about mental health openly and brands are on it. During a recent visit to New York City's most retail focused neighborhoods we saw all sorts of new ideas and interesting marketing approaches emerging. CBD-infused everything, melatonin drops, gravity blankets, nap pods… the list goes on. One thing is clear: the most exciting brands are responding to the global burnout crisis and getting a great response back.
Here are some examples of how brands are leaning into this trend of relieving anxiety:
Recess, a brand with a range of sparkling water infused with hemp extract and adaptogens, is in the business of making you feel calm and collected. They call themselves an antidote to modern times but it’s interesting how their end product doesn’t seem to be the drink itself but the opportunity to take a recess. The brand’s marketing approach is really well-thought, from overall strategy to the smallest details. From zen sandboxes with rakes to diffuse aromatherapy and half pipe nap pods, their pop up shop in NoHo is the physical representation of everything they stand for and how they’re cultivating these moments to wind down and recharge.
The landing page on their website explains the WHY they are in this business. "We all have too many tabs open in our browsers and in our brains. That’s why we made Recess: each can is a moment to reset and rebalance. It’s how you wish that 2pm coffee would make you feel."
The science is still out on many of the ingredients and Recess claims "Recess is infused with hemp extract and adaptogens, both powerful and natural ingredients that help us adapt to stress and regulate our mood, which helps us achieve a balanced state of mind."
The Dreamery by Casper
Mattress brand Casper is the living proof that the business is in the experience. Of course the product they sell is what makes the company grow, but what is actually converted into sales is the experience they offer. The brand has created a place called The Dreamery where you can book 45 minute power naps anytime during the day. It’s all ready made so you don’t have to plan to bring pajamas, slippers or anything else.
Sleep deprivation is definitely one of the main causes of anxiety today. Whether we’re anxious because we’re not getting enough sleep or our minds are so unsettled and worried that it cannot let us rest, every brand that is in the business of giving their customers a good night sleep is set to fair well. Most prominent trends today are melatonin supplements, CBD infused goods, lavender natural essential oils and one of the most exciting things we saw during our trip to New York, the gravity blanket. The Gravity Blanket uses "deep touch pressure" to stimulate the feeling of being held or hugged, which has been shown to increase serotonin and melatonin, the hormones responsible for calming relaxation, while decreasing cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress.
We could think these are just some cool brands going off the beaten track with an alternative marketing approaches. There’s nothing niche about them. Vitamin supplements and essential oils to help improve sleep and cope with anxiety are everywhere. We see CBD infused lipsticks, soaps and moisturizers in clothing stores such as Urban Outfitters and in the aisles of healthy supermarket giants like Whole Foods. These are strategically placed in checkout aisles to respond to emergent needs that seem to be affecting us all as a generation, regardless of the work we do. Brands have put their finger on this and believe it's smart it is to capitalize on these anxious impulses to determine their customers’ buying choices. Perhaps the irony in all of this is that these excessive and impulsive purchases will continue to build on our state of anxiety, because we’re spending money carelessly, unintentionally and reaffirming our need to have these products to be able to cope with our day to day lives.
There is no doubt that there is a wellness trend emerging as a result of a global health (namely a mental health) problem. The wellness industry grew by half a trillion dollars between 2015 and 2017, and we can expect it will continue to grow over the next few years. With this change of retail landscape comes opportunity. We just need to be aware of how it’s taking shape so we can reap the health benefits.