GEN Y AND Z ARE MORE INTERESTED IN SELF IMPROVEMENT THAN CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION — AND THEY WANT THE BRANDS THAT SUPPORT THEIR WELLNESS JOURNEY TO BE AS GOOD FOR THE WORLD AS THEY ARE FOR THEIR BODIES.
Branding is all about creating perceptions in the minds of consumers. Perceptions of a brand’s worth, its capabilities, its promises and values. Strategic brand managers don’t just work to instill those positive associations, they keep a close eye on the prevailing trends of the day and adjust their objectives in the face of shifting consumer sentiment and behavior.
We’re seeing just such a paradigm shift all around us right now. Consider pharmacy chain Rite Aid’s recent rebranding effort. The Pennsylvania-based retailer, which was founded in 1962, has 2,400 stores across 18 states, and has, until recently, been recognized by its traditional red and blue wordmark.
That all started changing in 2018. After a failed merger with much larger competitor Walgreens, Rite Aid opted to devote a massive $700 million to a two-year brand upgrade and store modernization plan. Their goal was to take a brand that had lost much of its luster and relevance to current demographics and that was looking outdated, boring, and undifferentiated and transform it into something fresh, new, and unique in the marketplace.
New Consumers, New Look
Rite Aid no longer wanted to be known for “selling everything” (Amazon and Walmart already owned that territory with an insurmountable lead), but rather as a leader in “wholesome curation.”
Pharmacists were reimagined as “wellness concierges,” stores were updated, and, most significantly, they tossed out their classic wordmark for a brand new logo and changed their primary brand palette from red and blue to green and blue.
Blue is commonly used by health brands because it is associated with calm and trust. It was kept as a signal to their existing customers that their traditional values weren’t being thrown out with the bath water, but merely updated.
“We’re not backing away from supporting our current customer,” said CMO Erik Keptner. Rather, they were hoping to simply add new types of customers, like pet parents, holistic consumers, values consumers, Millennials, and Zoomers: younger customers that perhaps had fewer chronic conditions to treat but far greater interest in alternative remedies, natural products that are healthy for individuals and produced sustainably and ethically, and solutions that support self-care like exercise, medication, and nutrition guidance.
Hence the replacement of red in their logo with green, to represent the natural element of their new outlook, and the inclusion of a mortar and pestle containing a green herb.
Fido Deserves Natural Wellness Too
Rite Aid isn’t the only legacy brand undergoing a major overhaul to appeal to changing consumer needs. Petco, purveyor of everything a furry friend might need, changed its tagline in 2018 from “Where healthy pets go” to “The Health & Wellness Co.”
“Younger customers have a greater interest in alternative remedies, natural products that are produced sustainably and ethically, and solutions that support self-care like exercise, medication, and nutrition guidance.”
The change was more than lip service and included a new ban on selling any food product that contained artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. They also phased out shock collars and instead promoted positive reinforcement training programs, opened the Right Food Finder portal to assist shoppers in finding the perfect product for their pet, launched their Vital Care membership-based wellness program, and began ramping up the installation of in-store veterinary hospitals.
“To me, we are a combination of Whole Foods and CVS,” argued CEO Ron Coughlin. “If you think about the wellness program, that’s more akin to CVS. And with our vets, now we are in the prescription business—we are their doctor, and we are their pharmacy.”
Beauty in 2021 is Clean and Organic
Adaptive and growing brands understand that they must form durable connections with their customers and audience. Just a generation ago, they could do without being transparent. There simply wasn’t enough access to information to catch every phony. Today, the internet and social media mean there is no place to hide.
That’s why the most successful brands aren’t hiding. They are opening their doors, letting the world see how the sausage is made, and being candid about their supply chains, internal processes, and corporate responsibility initiatives. If there are implications for either personal, social, or environmental deficiencies, they need to be upfront about it — and if they are smart, even more vocal about their positive impact on health bodies and the planet.
“Today’s consumers know their ingredients – they are driving change – and demand for greater transparency and reduced waste is higher than ever as the challenges of the pandemic have only heightened the importance of protecting nature and the health and wellness of all on Earth,” explained Ehrin Ziccardi, co-founder of online beauty portal Undrgrnd Beauty.
There is a growing proportion of the market, especially in the beauty industry, that demands that kind of brand stewardship:
- 65-percent of consumers surveyed by Global Cosmetics Industries said they are concerned about social and environmental issues.
- 20-percent of that subgroup said they would purchase more sustainable products if doing so connected them to a community of peers with shared values.
Accordingly, Kylie Jenner’s perennially in-demand makeup brand, Kylie Cosmetics, announced in late June that its entire product line was getting a “VEGAN and CLEAN” update, which means no harmful compounds, animal testing, animal products, or even gluten in any of her new lip kits.
“Today’s consumers know their ingredients – they are driving change – and demand for greater transparency and reduced waste is higher than ever…”
Kylie’s brand was already red hot with younger demos and her makeup sells out the second it drops on Instagram, but this move indicates she is well aware of where market sentiment has moved and wants to stay ahead of the trend.
Partners on a Journey to Natural Wellness
Brands don’t just sell goods and services anymore. They are also educators, guides, cheerleaders, life coaches, and trusted partners that modern consumers rely on to help them be their best self — inside and out.
Even companies and brands that haven’t traditionally dabbled in this arena are looking for ways to provide healthy, wholesome, natural solutions that will burnish their image, energize and engage their internal teams and broader audience, and put them in line with a growing demand for clean and green products, services, and values.
Hanlon clocks the trends to help brands adapt to shifting consumer expectations. Ask us how we can modernize your brand strategy and prepare it for a clean and green marketplace.