From Isolation to Connection: 5 Tips for SMBs to Thrive in the New Era of Wellness

by | May 21, 2023

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iStock, a leading e-commerce platform providing premium visual content to SMBs, SMEs and creatives everywhere, today revealed a practical guide to help businesses of all sizes effectively communicate and connect with their audiences when visualizing wellness in today’s world.

According to iStock’s VisualGPS research, after three years of the Covid-19 pandemic, and amid increased awareness around rising loneliness and its impacts, people around the world are continuing to reshape the concept of holistic wellness and prioritize personal well-being, with 9 out of 10 people believing physical and emotional health are equally important on their lives. 

iStock’s VisualGPS findings have tracked global consumer sentiment over the last three years, tracking a shift in mindset toward a more comprehensive approach to wellness outside of physical health. The latest survey revealed, that when asked about people’s life priorities, work/life balance shifted from ranking fifth to first, from 2021 to 2022. Triggered by the pandemic, iStock’s visual experts state this shift has had a profound impact on how wellness was, is, and should be visualized to engage with their audiences in an authentic and relevant way.  

 
 

Dr. Rebecca Swift, VP of Creative Insights at iStock, comments: “Since the launch of VisualGPS three years ago, we have been able to track how the visual concept of wellness has evolved alongside people’s expectations. Before the pandemic, most popular wellness visuals were primarily focused on physical fitness through elite trends such as yoga classes in spa resorts or expensive gym memberships. During the pandemic, the concept of ‘health’ evolved into a social and emotional issue where accessibility to wellness was vital for all, with mental health at the forefront of the conversation.”

More recently, the desire for self-care continues to be important, but people continue to reimagine exactly what holistic wellness means to them. iStock’s VisualGPS findings revealed that the concept of ‘togetherness’ is now one of people’s most important values, with 52% considering wellness as getting together with family and friends. Also, findings show that younger generations believe maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a priority, with 84% of Gen Z and Millennials planning to develop daily wellness practices. Even Generation Alpha, named the ‘new old fashioned’, are valuing more family time alongside playing and spending time outdoors, despite their tech-savvy skills.

iStock’s visual experts reveal key takeaways and insights on how businesses can incorporate these visual trends into their marketing and advertising materials to effectively and authentically, visualize holistic wellness:

 
  1. Togetherness is wellness

Only 1 in 10 visuals used by businesses show people interacting with friends or spending time with their families. Showcase images and videos of people fostering emotionally beneficial and accepting relationships, including the power of friendship, bonding, mindfulness and self-reflection. Nothing fuels emotional health like celebrating with the people we love.

  1. Health as a lifestyle

To highlight wellness as a lifestyle, SMBs can depict wellness as an ongoing journey rather than a destination. Show how individuals can make small and intentional changes in their daily lives that contribute to their overall well-being. Consider visuals that show your audience in active pursuit of managing their emotions, creating productive habits, and getting more from social interactions. Prioritize images and videos showing activities that help reduce stress or making intentional decisions that help achieve goals.

  1. Portray authentic physical health 

One of the most common visual depictions of wellness is physical exercise, and most of the times exercise is shown as walking, jogging or yoga. Individual wellness predominates most depictions as only 1% of the wellness images and videos used by brands feature a team sport. Wellness, therefore, is shown as solitary rather than a community-based activity. Furthermore, individual wellness visuals favor younger people. In fact, less than 15% of physical wellness visuals depict older adults. However, according to VisualGPS research, visuals showing people of different ages playing a sport engages consumers the most. Wellness can be better represented by showing a group of adults enjoying a sport together rather than in isolation.

 
  1. Mindful technology that cares

VisualGPS data shows that nearly 7 in 10 Millennials are excited by the impact that technology has on wellness, such as meditation apps and fitness/health trackers. Today, even fitness devices that serve as a reminder and motivator to exercise are adapting their functionalities to fit a wider understanding of wellness. With this in mind when selecting visual content, consider how tech devices are being purposefully applied in scenarios like sports and leisure, and how technology can empower us to monitor our health and well-being. Think about scenarios that show tech devices being used to support physical wellness. However, also consider the moments people turn to technology to wind down, like using a meditation app, tracking sleep, or simply listening to music.

  1. Less aspirational wellness

While aspirational visual storytelling around wellness worked historically, 63% of people globally would now prefer to buy from businesses whose values align with their own. There is a huge opportunity for SMBs to connect through more holistic wellness visual storytelling by showing real people reaping the emotional and social rewards as a key aspect of wellness.  Consider images and videos that seem candid and show people that you may come across in your daily life, including people from different social backgrounds. Show them interacting within communities and among other groups—and portraying them across multiple intersections of identity, such as age, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, disability, or body types.

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