3 Self-Care Trends That Are Changing How People Look After Their Health
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Self-care—that is, looking after your health and wellness in a holistic and preventive way—is more than a passing trend. It's a lifestyle shift that's here to stay, one that has only been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, in a time of uncertainty, consumers are responding by taking charge of their own health. According to one recent national survey, 80% of adults said they intend to be more mindful about practicing self-care regularly after the pandemic. And global research conducted this year found that consumers' prioritization of wellness has jumped as much as 65% in the past two to three years.
It's an area where Johnson & Johnson has been ahead of the curve. In 2019, to help consumers make the most of their self-care routines and habits, the company created an entire team dedicated to understanding and predicting what's next in wellness: the Future of Self Care team.
“The way consumers think about managing health and wellness is shifting,” says Marguerite Longo, Senior Director, Future of Self Care, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health. “People are no longer just taking pills to treat health problems. They’re taking much more proactive, preventive measures. The goal of the Future of Self Care team is to help consumers best manage their healthcare in the most comprehensive way.”
Take a person living with arthritis, says Longo. “They may take an over-the-counter medication. And in our research we've found that they also might take yoga classes, use a guided meditation app and take natural supplements," she explains. "In other words, there might be a whole host of things they’d be doing to help care for their condition.”
And providing consumers with the best options for taking care of their health is exactly what the Future of Self Care team is focused on. Through their research—which includes gleaning insights from external conferences and the media, as well as through traditional market research—they've identified a few key self-care trends that may influence how you prioritize your own wellness now, and in years to come.
Trend #1: Science-Backed “Well Care”
There may have been a time when people only perused shelves of immune-boosting products when they were already feeling under the weather. But now, there’s been a major pivot to preventive care. One 2020 analysis, for example, found an uptick in prevention- and immunity-oriented products, including a more than 40% year-over-year increase in sales of multivitamins.
“The pandemic has served as a moment of reckoning for consumers around the world to really value their health in a way they might not have before," says Longo. "We’re seeing people respond to that by increasing their supplement intake as a way to help them stay healthy.”
One leader in the naturally based healthcare products space is Zarbee’s Naturals®, a brand acquired by Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health in 2018. With offerings for people of all ages spanning products that can help soothe coughs associated with hoarseness, dry throat and irritants to sleep-supporting supplements, Zarbee’s uses several natural ingredients from plants and minerals, like dark honey, elderberry and zinc.
And it’s not just that people are seeking naturally based products for healthcare. Consumers also want to know their choices are backed by science—and companies are expected to deliver.
"Johnson & Johnson has such a strong history of innovating and providing science-backed health solutions and works so closely with healthcare professionals. We think those strengths are a natural fit for the preventive wellness space," says Longo.
Take the brand rmdy (pronounced “remedy”), a digital health company supported in part by Johnson & Johnson Innovation—JJDC, Inc., the corporate venture arm of Johnson & Johnson. Rmdy uses research-backed ingredients (think probiotics and prebiotics) to create digestive-health supplements to reduce bloating, soothe discomfort and promote better long-term digestion. The brand is focused on educating consumers about the science behind each product, so people can make informed decisions about the self-care products that best fit their needs.
Case in point: rmdy partnered with a third-party organization to conduct a pilot study of its supplements and found that, compared to a placebo, rmdy's products are more than 90% more likely to help with digestion and reduce post-meal discomfort.
Trend #2: Increased Access to and Options for Care
It's an urgent health crisis that has been highlighted by the pandemic: Access to preventive medicine and self-care products is not equitably distributed across communities in the U.S. A significant part of the Future of Self Care team’s mission is identifying those groups and figuring out how the company can help meet their needs.
"One of the big challenges that we've seen is that specialist care is not equally accessible across the country," says Longo. "In certain ZIP codes, even if there is a specialist that serves that area, it might take between six and 18 months to get an appointment. That leaves many consumers in a really difficult position where they need access to better care than they're able to get."
We’re seeing a surge in the adoption of at-home diagnostic tools, and a sudden widespread comfort in using telemedicine. We see a great need in the market for digital solutions that provide consumers with information and tools, with products to support that.ShareDid you like reading this story? Click the heart to show your love.
One step forward in helping improve access to care: In late 2020, Johnson & Johnson announced a $100 million commitment to health equity solutions that includes investment in underserved communities and partnerships that address racial and social health determinants. As part of that initiative, Johnson & Johnson collaborated with partners across the country to offer mobile COVID-19 testing via vans and at sites like churches and schools in underserved communities.
And a major part of the initiative to reach underserved consumers of all kinds includes the company's most well-known brands. For example, this year, BAND-AID® Brand adhesive bandages partnered with the National Black Nurses Association and the National Student Nurses' Association to increase career opportunities and provide scholarships to student nurses.
Communication and education are important parts of making self-care more accessible to underserved groups. A partnership between Tylenol® and the National Urban League includes a pilot program to provide education about hypertension, which disproportionally affects Black communities. The brand also launched a digital ad campaign aimed at educating special-conditions consumers—people with common cardiovascular and gastrointestinal issues—about what type of pain relief to look for based on those conditions.
“Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), including common pain relievers like aspirin, naproxen and ibuprofen, may not be appropriate for people with certain medical conditions, but many consumers do not know this,” Longo says. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health is working to educate consumers and help them find pain relief that is right for them.
Trend #3: Connected and Personalized Self-Care
With a population that’s more tech-savvy than ever, health and wellness has become an increasingly digitized space, with diagnostics, treatments and professional help available to many people on-demand.
“Think about how many people have a smart watch or some kind of wearable device that constantly gives them tons of information about their body,” Longo says. “Consumers are more interested than ever in using technology to manage their healthcare.”
The pandemic, which made it difficult for many people to see their healthcare professionals in person, only accelerated the shift. “We’re seeing a growing adoption of at-home diagnostic tools and a sudden widespread comfort in using telemedicine,” Longo says. “We see a continuing need in the market for digital solutions that help consumers manage their healthcare from home, working in partnership with their doctor.”
Many Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health brands are getting into the digital health game. Nicorette® QuickMist® Nicotine Spray—a mouth spray designed to relieve nicotine cravings—is accompanied by a behavioral coaching app that helps smokers trying to quit to develop a personal cessation plan and track their progress.
Zyrtec® also offers a personalized app, AllergyCast®, which uses your location and allergy profile to deliver a personalized daily forecast “based on what it knows about your triggers and the allergen levels in your area,” says Longo. “For example, I’m allergic to ragweed. AllergyCast® will let me know on a given morning what the ragweed levels are, and if they're high, I know that maybe I should go for my run on the treadmill instead of outdoors that day.”
The trend toward increasingly individualized self-care will continue, Longo says, as consumers become more and more focused on their own health and the specific tools, products and routines that work for them.
“We’re entering an exciting time in healthcare," says Longo. "So much of it is about learning about you specifically: your microbiome, your levels of stress, your individual health. What an exciting time to be a consumer.”