Mental health and wellness have become a focal point of conversation in the media since the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2022, brands continued to prioritize wellness in their marketing, and talking about mental health went from being a trending hashtag in May during Mental Health Awareness month to a year-long conversation that has changed the well-being of many Americans.
Additionally, in the last two years, the wellness market has boomed and is now estimated at more than $1.5 trillion, with annual growth of 5-to-10 percent. Products from at-home fitness technology to meditation apps to workout apparel are selling faster than some brands can produce.
While the growth of the wellness market shows great progress toward addressing the state of mental health in America, the subject can be sensitive and complex to navigate when it comes to marketers and brands inserting themselves into the conversation. It can be argued that there’s much more progress to be made in the wellness industry as it pertains to Black Americans’ mental state.
According to Mental Health America, Black adults are more likely to have feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness than White adults. This can be a challenge for any marketer who aims to create authentic and culturally nuanced campaigns that support “wellness for the culture.”
But how does a marketer or brand show support and say “we understand” without coming off as opportunistic and disingenuous?
Brands must be clear on why they want to be involved in conversations about wellness and mental health overall. They should know that what it means to be healthy for Black consumers comes with historical ramifications that must be addressed with sensitivity and understanding.
So in this post-COVID world, how should brands create a “safe space” for Black Americans and their wellness? Below are five ways that demonstrate how to effectively achieve successful brand messaging to the Black community.
1. Collaborate with real experts.
So much of a brand’s success in cutting through the crowded marketplace is tapping into the right experts. When it comes to mental health and wellness, the true influencers are the everyday people that have dedicated their profession to the field. Brands should be focused on building a community of licensed and certified practitioners of color—therapists, life coaches, nutritionists, physical fitness trainers, etc. These experts come with a plethora of knowledge and education that will add value and authenticity to your marketing campaign.
2. Create a safe space!
Marketers should position their brand’s campaign as a safe space by projecting empathy and research. It’s important to show the consumer you understand the historic and day-to-day cultural triggers that affect the wellness of Black Americans when strategizing topics to address around health and wellness.
3. Be Intentional.
Brands should always be very clear about what it means to talk about mental health and wellness and how they are approaching it. In your strategic planning, think about why you want to have a presence in this specific space and what you want your messaging to be. Being intentional also includes making sure your marketing team reflects the audiences you want to target. If your DE&I wellness campaign goal is to reach Black consumers, are there internal teams that can directly connect and empathize with this audience?
4. Community = Wellness.
Some of the most impactful and visible branded wellness events are at the community level. Brands are opening up their doors to host panels and workshops focused on mental and physical health. Many brands have dedicated DE&I Community Marketing teams that make it their mission to have a presence on a local level. Having an engaged community is extremely important. It’s a form of wellness.
5. Think Holistically.
Wellness marketing, just like any industry, is always expanding and shifting. Having a keen understanding of what wellness means in 2023 and beyond is key to creating relevant campaigns. Wellness should take on a holistic perspective, encouraging people to prioritize many areas of their lives including: finances, relationships and spirituality. In the coming year, think about how your next campaign can take on an integrated approach to wellness.