Post-Pandemic Physical Wellness

Trends / Wellness
Stanislaw Pytel
Sandra Michalska
May 10, 2021
The pandemic has ramped up our dedication to doing more about our health. Before Covid, physical wellness was associated with seasonal and somehow elitist trends such as yoga classes in spa resorts or expensive gym memberships. With the global crisis as a wake‑up call, physical health has fallen off its pedestal and turned more into a social issue of equality and accessibility. To thrive in post‑pandemic societies, it is essential to elevate visual expression around physical wellness to encourage action and address social inequalities within economic systems that underlie how we live, work and play.
Our Visual GPS research revealed a gap between intention and action when it comes to physical activity. While over 8 in 10 Europeans told us they try to take care of themselves physically, only 4 in 10 take action, with the lowest rate among 50+ age group. This presents an opportunity for brands to encourage greater participation with the visuals that they select. A study from Vice also found that the younger audience is determined to invest more time and money in their physical health, but that doesn't necessarily translate into investing in a gym subscription. Instead, they are willing to use nature as their fitness playground. In France, sports retailer Decathlon hits a similar narrative and celebrates sport and physical activity as an accessible solution for a better world.
The rise of real, accessible stories
Over the last five years we have seen a shift from perfection to inclusion in the physical health stories our European customers are downloading. There is a move away from perfect gym bodies to showing the reality of real people in their everyday homes looking after their physical health while under confinement. Due to Covid, we have moved from "looking good" to "feeling good," and this visual shift reflects the way that individuals took control of their health and wellness amidst pandemic. However, there is still much more to be done to address gender disparities, as well as the lack of diversity, inclusion and representing people of all ages.

Physical wellness is a concern for us all, and brands need to understand this new need for more grounded, accessible wellness. Stories that focus less on physical perfection and more on inclusion and relatability serve as encouragement for everyone.
Actionable tips
With health consciousness driving consumers’ expectations, there are new opportunities for brands to step up and act more responsibly as an industry. If brands are now more trusted than governments, visuals based on care, accessibility and encouragement will be welcomed by consumers.

  • Focus on accessibility  Choose visuals that show physical activities for all communities. Visuals that focus on accessible activities that individuals can do on an everyday basis will drive positive change.

  • Be inclusive – Represent individuals of all intersecting identity factors: ages, disabilities and body types. Your customers are paying attention to who is being represented in your visual communications, and want to see themselves represented.

  • Bring variety, forget the clichés – Move away from visuals that focus on the pursuit of physical perfection. Instead, highlight the positive actions people are taking to improve their physical health individually or collectively such as playing sports with friends, dancing or working in the garden. Encourage physical health in the making, rather than the results of exercise on physical appearance.
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