From alternative Valentine’s Day celebrations to body positivity for Fashion Week, this month’s Hotlist explores the essential wellness trend of self-care.
Wellness is no longer a category but an all-encompassing area of customers’ lives. As national stress levels rose following the US election of 2016, Google searches of the phrase ‘self-care’ peaked, highlighting that not only do people want to look better and do better, they want to feel better too. (The New Yorker, 2017)
Loving your mind
With 72 per cent of Gen Z saying that managing stress and mental health is their most important health concern, there is a huge opportunity for brands to help customers in this regard. (Unidays, 2019) There has been a huge surge in self-care related apps, with Apple deeming it the break out app trend of 2018. (Apple, 2018) From Mend, which focuses on self-care after breakups, to My GCAL app from the state of Georgia which offers support for mental illness and substance abuse, it would seem that there is a resource to cater to every aspect of self-care.
We are increasingly seeing brands incorporate this digital wellness angle into bricks and mortar spaces. Last year, Lidl toured Ireland with a pop up bakery aimed at engaging young people to openly discuss their mental wellbeing. The pop up provided a welcoming space to talk alongside an evening schedule of meditation, acoustic music, laughter yoga and singalong socials. US Pharmacy chain CVS is piloting a new CVS HealthHUB format to establish a more permanent provision for mental wellness. CVS HealthHUB will facilitate counselling sessions and community wellness activities alongside the brand’s usual retail services. This is a key move forward in the democratision of wellness services.
Loving your body
Euromonitor’s recent global survey revealed that social media has shifted perceptions of beauty. ‘Looking healthy’ ranked as the top-rated definition of beauty and 47 per cent defined beauty as ‘being comfortable in your own skin’. (Euromonitor, 2018) Brands have a responsibility to encourage healthy body image, and people want to see more diversity and inclusivity. Sainsbury’s found that 71 per cent of women feel lingerie ads are intended to appeal to men and has launched an ‘All Boobs Welcome’ campaign featuring real women in the adverts alongside a London pop up to help women find the right bra. (Sainsbury’s, 2019)
There has been a decided shift towards diversity in fashion, with plus size representation nearly doubling in New York SS 2019 fashion shows. (Harpers Bazaar, 2019) Now, the conversation on body positivity is extending beyond body size. Last November, 200 people participated in ‘The Real Catwalk’, a body positive fashion show in Times Square, reacting to negative comments on transgender models by Victoria Secret’s Chief Marketing Officer Ed Razek. In this year’s New York Fashion week, transgender actress Laverne Cox lead the runway for 11 Honore’s runway show debut and Marco Marco made history with an all transgender lineup. The foundation has been laid for brands to continue extending the conversation on body positivity, a conversation which is particularly quiet at present when it comes to male fashion.
Loving your self
Individualism has increased 12 per cent worldwide since 1960 and people are more self-concerned than ever before. (Psycological Science, 2017) The focus on the self means that people are re-writing the script when it comes to traditional celebrations like Valentine’s Day. Instead of traditional romantic activities, we are seeing a greater focus on celebrating friendships with two-thirds of women who buy Valentine’s Day products doing so to celebrate non-romantic relationships. (Hallmark, 2019)
Galantine’s Day is becoming increasingly commercialised with Party City selling over 50 Galantine’s themed products this year and Walmart featuring Galantine’s products at over a thousand stores. There is also a big emphasis on self-love with brands encouraging customers to celebrate themselves. Free People’s Valentines love shop included categories like ‘Love Yourself’ focused on treating yourself with a night in. There is now even an Edit My Ex photo service which photoshops ex-lovers from favourite photos.
While the concept of self-care is not a new one, it has firmly entered the popular consciousness in recent years. People are embrarking on their own self-care missions encompassing mind, body, soul and beyond and brands across sectors are seizing the opportunity to be involved in the self-care revolution.