Make→Shift is part of TrendWatching's Free Trend Updates. Each monthly issue examines one cross-industry movement no brand can afford to ignore, answering 'why now' and spotlighting the opportunities brands can act on today.
All in a six-minute read.
From mental strength-building tools to emotional workouts that put consumers through their paces, people are expecting brands to help them develop the emotional resilience they need to thrive in an uncertain and troubled world.
Can you keep up?
Mental health was a pre-pandemic talking point but the turbulence of 2020 accelerated the conversation and, for many consumers, prompted a rethink of the old physical/mental health binary. As the virus swelled, rates of depression tripled and a third of the global workforce reported burnout (an entirely separate, and far more stealthy, pandemic in itself). As a result, nearly 50% of US consumers actively prioritized their mental health over the past year.
Consumers aren't just battling the mental health fallout of the pandemic – political scandals, social unrest, online harassment and climate change are persistent stressors. These and many other issues require long-term solutions, regulation and system-wide changes, but consumers will appreciate tools that help them build resilience and provide insurance against the daily trials thrown their way.
In recent years, consumer spending has reflected a thoroughly modern maxim: health equals wealth. The global home fitness equipment market leapt in value from USD 6.76 billion to 9.49 billion in 2020, with countless brands espousing the idea that an investment in health now will pay dividends for life. Structures built in disaster-prone areas have resilience engineered into their foundations, as do businesses in volatile markets: increasingly, disruptive brands are applying this logic to mental health services, too.
To be clear, by 'mental health services,' we’re not talking about a psychoanalyst’s couch. Digital innovations and apps are breaking down former notions of mental health by reducing or entirely removing financial barriers to tools and resources. Platforms like Coa offer emotional fitness classes for USD 25 – mere pennies compared to an IRL therapy session – while Gen Z (a demographic that has borne the brunt of lockdowns) can now get their mental health in check via TikTok, free of charge.
For Safer Internet Day 2021, LEGO created a quiz to help kids combat 'meanies' online. In a series of videos, kids are shown instances of cyberbullying and asked how they would handle various situations. Kids who confront the online bullies are praised for their empathy, while those who choose to join the taunting are taught how to make amends. It’s a classic lesson in being streetwise, zhuzhed up for digital natives.
Coa, the US-based ‘mental health gym’ invites consumers to really feel the burn through therapist-led emotional fitness classes. People can either book a single class in mental wellness or leadership — a series of eight classes that promise to kick-start their resilience — or book a one-on-one personal training session with a therapist. According to Coa, maintaining strong mental health requires ongoing work, much like a physical exercise regime.
GenDread is a newsletter that explores the soft side of a hard problem: mental health in the context of a global climate crisis. The author, Britt Wray, started the Substack after becoming overwhelmed by eco-anxiety. Determined to learn more about planetary health, she interviewed over 100 experts and created a newsletter (soon to become a book) full of tips for others struggling to navigate this rocky, emotional terrain.
The frenetic world of TikTok might not seem like the most obvious portal for mental health services, but in April 2021, the social media platform launched a wellness hub for users looking to improve their physical and mental wellbeing. The hub is split across four categories – food and nutrition, fitness, life advice and mindfulness – and updated with content by TikTok influencers, plus information from professional third-party resources.
Exhale was created in the wake of George Floyd’s murder to address the overlooked anxieties and concerns of Black and Indigenous Women of Color (BIWOC). Along with breath-work exercises, the app includes visualizations and meditations designed to address everyday stressors encountered by BIWOC. The app is available to download for free from Google Play and Apple's App Store.
Plenty of kids aspire to good grades, but emotional intelligence might not be front of mind. It’sOk is a South Africa-based app that monitors student wellbeing and translates the data into reports, enabling schools to address any concerning trends, while also encouraging kids to openly express their emotions. As well being invited to do an emotional check-in, children can use the app to message their school counselor and access breath-work tools.
Building emotional resilience might be deeply personal, but hitting those individual goals is easier with the support of others. Follow Real's lead — it's a subscription-based app providing on-demand group therapy sessions — and approach mental wellbeing as a group activity, with people learning from each other.
As a brand, you have the contacts and resources to connect people of all levels of emotional fitness. If you provide them with a communal space, they can share, heal and grow together.
What are the unique mental health challenges related to your industry and how can you give customers the tools they need to overcome them? For example, Whole Foods and Headspace teamed up for mood-enhancing food, while the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions ran a series of webinars and workshops to help people improve their financial resilience.
Or maybe you can find inspiring, resilient figures in your sector? Nike's Never Too Far Down campaign featured comeback stories by Tiger Woods and Serena Williams.
Start by distilling your expertise, and then call in the partners you need to bring it to consumers.
Download Misü. This app analyzes users’ facial expressions and offers suggestions on how users can adapt their online behaviour to improve their wellbeing.
Test your emotional resilience with this interactive quiz by the Bank Workers Charity. Upon completion, you’ll be presented with a personal profile, picking apart your strengths and weaknesses. It’s not as brutal as it sounds, promise.
Read this article on languishing — “the dominant emotion of 2021” — for a breakdown of that familiar meh feeling spawned by the pandemic...
Subscribe to Gendread's newsletter to learn more about eco-anxiety, and how your brand can respond to newfound consumer concerns. Join the conversation in the comments.
Check out Mind Celebrations. Invite colleagues to review their emotional fitness and see how fatigue, burnout and too much screen time could be impacting your organization.
From "The Fight for Facts" to the new "Hands Off" economy, our previous Make→Shift issues provide a cornucopia of purpose-driven insights, plus actions you can take on the trends that matter.