How brands can rise to meet consumers’ high self-care expectations

With ‘The Great Deceleration’ – a move towards slow living, and a focus on improving mental wellbeing being two predicted trends this year,1 does this open the door to a new approach for self-care brands? Paul Hutchings, founder of Fox&Cat, thinks so.

What’s interesting, is the role that consumers expect brands to play in when it comes to supporting their health and wellbeing. Four in ten1 want brands – whether health or otherwise – to improve their wellbeing, as identified by a recent survey. The same research showed that 81% believe brands should be trying to improve people’s mental health.

Whether pain, bad breath, acne or embarrassing bowel movements, many everyday health conditions impact our mental wellbeing in the short or longer term. From the depression that pain can lead to, through to the emotional fear of bullying from acne – mental wellbeing is relevant.

Given these astonishing insights, the deceleration trend and its focus on mental wellbeing isn’t just a trend, it can be an untapped execution platform for brands, and a timely one given;

  1. Stress (52%) and mental illness/depression (49%) came out first and second in the top ten challenges for human health.
  2. There are no diagnoses you can get that won’t make you worry, do an impromptu Google search to worry more, and then bury the concern for another day.
  3. Consumers want evidence that the products they use will work, foremost. And they want to be educated by brands not sold to by them.

While slowing down for many consumers is the key to a happier, healthier life, the deceleration trend is perhaps a timely reminder to brands to take a fresh look at what their audiences are really looking for and be clear about how the brand can support self-care. It’s time to re-assess the brand’s position and focus efforts on the wellbeing needs of their audience and how they can, creatively, get closer to the mark.

Let’s look at one example…

Lego is well documented for its positive impact on mental wellbeing. Interacting with the bricks is a mindful, calming practice that can decrease unwanted stress and unwelcome thoughts.2 Imagining and then creating something new nurtures self-confidence, and seeing what you have built at the end gives a dopamine hit for feelings of pleasure. It even helps improve cognition for elder people.3

Compare Lego’s believable health and wellbeing claims to those less-believable from some key high street health products and, to be frank, I’d choose those painful-under-the-foot bricks over many of them.

While consumers are looking for brands to be clear on claims and credentials – it’s important not to overclaim. Wellbeing is an area where it’s tempting and easier for brands to overstate their health credentials.

Take, for example, Vitamin Water and its prior slogan “vitamins + water = all you need”. The Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) ensured a correction in the USA to include “+ sweeteners” in its branding.4 Not so catchy, but at least now it’s honest.

For us the role for brands is becoming clearer. Being transparent about brand claims and backing them up with science and efficacy is what consumers are searching for. By tackling the barriers around self-care – taking consumers by the hand to guide them through the science behind a product, people will become empowered to make their own health decisions. And by addressing the very current mental wellbeing needs – whether around a health diagnosis or more widely – health brands will become seen as listening, authentic leaders which in turn will encourage loyalty and sales.

Deceleration, on face-value at least, appears to be an obvious yet critical part of the solution. One where brands, through education and legitimate claims, can support the move towards ‘slow living’ to counteract the overtired, over scheduled, busyness of our lives today.

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1 The Future 100 – Trends and Change to Watch in 2024 by VML Intelligence. Cited at: Last accessed: February 2024

2 HFR, 2023. Cited at: Last accessed: February 2024

3 Ivan, J et al. (2019) Mathematical Problem Solving: One Way to Prevent Dementia. Cited at: Last accessed: February 2024

4 Gilliland N (2016) Article: Six Brands that have made false health claims in advertising. Cited at: