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‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’

Hand’s up if you’ve made a ‘healthy’ new year’s resolution? But did you know that 80% of these resolutions fail? Not the most encouraging stat. So what’s the barrier to success? Healthcare Client Services Director Nick Burgoyne explains all.

Nick Burgoyne

Author: Nick Burgoyne

Healthcare Client Services Director

Date posted: 12/01/2022

It’s a saying as old as time. But does eating the aforementioned apple actually affect our number of visits to the surgery?

While there is sadly no proof that this is true, the saying does point to the need for us all to take control of our everyday self-care to maintain long-term good health. The idea that making small and continuous healthy choices today can have greater benefits down the line is well understood. However, making these choices can be difficult, when there is no immediate adverse effect to your health. It can be especially hard to navigate in January after a month of Christmas indulgence … discounted mince pies anyone?

I’m sure many people reading this will have already started the year off with some kind of health-based resolution. In fact, a recent survey¹ suggests that some of the most popular resolutions for 2021 included exercising more and improving fitness (50% of participants), losing weight (48%), and improving diet (39%). This data clearly shows people are concerned about their long-term health; however, according to a US News & World Report, New Year’s resolutions have a failure rate of roughly 80 percent, with most people losing their resolve by mid-February.

So why the disconnect?

Well, there are lots of reasons why people fail to fulfil their resolutions. One particular barrier to success is that we think about resolutions as a quick fix, when that simply isn’t the case. To create year-long meaningful results, year-long input is needed. And on top of that, repetitive habit creation takes time! But there is plenty of information out there to help people reach their goals. Given the high failure rate of health-related resolutions, it’s clear that an information gap still exists between wellness health brands and consumers. So why the disconnect? Customer insight is the key here – successful communication in this sector depends on it.

COVID-19 and personal wellbeing

A great example of communications having a tangible benefit on the long-term health of our society is in smoking cessation. There has been a steady decline in the number of adult smokers in the UK over the past 40 years, and the percentage of the population that has never smoked has increased from 37.4% in 1974 to 60% in 2019.² The driving force behind this change likely comes from the additional information available to consumers about the risks of smoking and the harm it causes to long-term health. This change has been accelerated in the past 18 months as people understand the heightened risks of smoking and how it can affect the seriousness of infections, including COVID-19.

The pandemic has, in fact, got people thinking about their long-term health in a different way.

The use of vitamin D supplements has seen an 8% uptick over the past 18 months, while the number of products available to consumers has risen by 20% since the start of 2020.³ Furthermore, the UK government was, at one time during the peak, suggesting the use of vitamin D for high-risk individuals.

‘Undoubtedly, consumers are more worried about their health following the outbreak of COVID-19, and are seeking out preventative measures in the long term, including taking vitamins and supplements.’

Emilia Greenslade, OTC and Personal Care Analyst, UK (Mintel, 2020)

Can preventative care become the norm?

With vitamin sales expected to reach £559 million in the UK by 2025, it is clear that consumer interest in our own health is at an all-time high. The question is whether we should be suggesting vitamins, minerals and supplements (VMS), along with other preventative prescriptions, in our pharmacies. Could communication and education around preventative care lead to the same benefits as the quit-smoking campaigns of the past half century?

Preventative care spans the entire healthcare spectrum, from daily exercise and mental health to dental checks and vaccinations. People are understanding more and more that health needs to be a focus all year round. With conversations around vaccinations and hygiene becoming the norm, the OTC preventative care market could consider how to open up wider discourse with the public, in order to better inform them on the long-term benefits of vitamins, minerals and supplements.

‘There are plenty of “me too” brands operating in the prevention space. What sets good brands apart is the building of strategies based on solid consumer insight, i.e. telling a compelling story to bring to life why we need that specific brand in our life. Those that do that really well, will win in this space.’

Fiona Wylie, Strategic Development Director OTC, Purple

So, while an apple a day might not be a cure-all, building small healthy habits into each day may just be the ticket for long-term good health. And wellness brands can be at the forefront of the revolution … if they’re up for the challenge.

Here at Purple, we understand every stage of the health spectrum, from intervention to prevention. We know how important good science and insight are in creating exceptional communications that achieve what they set out to do. Want to know more? Contact us now at healthcare@purple.agency.

¹https://discoverhappyhabits.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/#2021-statistics

²https://ash.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/SmokingStatistics.pdf

³https://www.mintel.com/press-centre/beauty-and-personal-care/the-vitamin-d-factor-brits-spend-almost-500-million-on-vitamins-and-supplements

https://hfma.co.uk/media-events/industry-facts/