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New Year, New Tactics: 2021 Health and Wellness Marketing Trends

Health and wellness brands are entering a new year with a drastically altered consumer landscape.

In regions where gyms remain closed due to COVID-19 lockdowns, at-home and virtual workouts have become common alternatives. And where gyms are open, members must wear masks and fitness class sizes have shrunk due to safety restrictions.

Additionally, demand is surging for mindfulness and meditation apps like Calm, whose downloads increased by 36% from January to April 2020. However, stress and personal responsibilities have resulted in decreased motivation to exercise for many consumers.

We’re in a new year of the pandemic. Given the many shifts in the health and wellness space, Iterable wanted to know how these changes have affected the industry’s marketing efforts.

To gain a better understanding of 2020’s impact on the health and wellness world, Iterable asked industry marketers how they feel about 2021. We surveyed health and wellness marketers across the U.S. and U.K. on their plans and predictions for the new year.

Here’s what we discovered.

Health and Wellness Marketing Trends for 2021

1. New Year’s resolution messaging will not go away.

One of our biggest questions for health and wellness industry marketers was on the use of New Year’s resolution messaging. Given the challenges consumers continue to face during the pandemic, we wondered if using a “new year, new you” message—or resolution messaging—would still be a priority.

However, it appears this messaging will carry on. Nearly half (44%) of respondents are investing more in New Year’s resolution messaging this year. Another 38% plan to invest in the same amount of messaging as last year.

For most industry marketers, the planned continuation of resolution messaging lies in its success—77% think it’s worthwhile. But when comparing U.S. and U.K. respondents, U.S. brands rely more on resolution messaging. Seventy-six percent of U.S. marketers say the messaging is a viable investment versus 64% of those in the U.K.

2. Marketers are preparing for higher Q1 customer attrition.

Considering the majority of respondents believe in the value of New Year’s resolutions, it comes as no surprise that 65% also said the popularity of their product is tied to New Year’s resolutions.

Industry marketers were also aligned with previous studies that showed the abrupt ending of New Year’s resolutions by consumers in February. More than half of respondents (52%) said their brand typically sees more than 20% attrition by the end of Q1 year-over-year.

For 2021, industry marketers are also aware of new factors that could further impact typical Q1 attrition. Respondents listed a lack of motivation to achieve goals and customers falling back into old routines as the top barriers to customer acquisition and retention for Q1 2021.

However, they also noted increased stress, anxiety and uncertainty, as well as heightened personal demands, as top barriers—all signs of the pandemic’s effects on consumers.

Top 3 barriers to retaining or acquiring customers during Q1 2021
1 Lack of customer motivation to achieve health and fitness goals 46%
2 Customers falling back into old routines 42%


Health, fitness and wellness deprioritized by customers due to increased stress, anxiety and uncertainty


Health, fitness and wellness deprioritized by customers due to increased personal demands


3. Customer loyalty programs will skyrocket.

Health and wellness marketers see customer loyalty programs as a potential solution to address pandemic-related stressors and personal demands. Forty percent of respondents plan on developing customer loyalty programs in 2021.

Much as they already have throughout 2020, industry marketers don’t plan on stopping their innovation and adaptation to drive business. As we saw in our 2021 marketing trends report, respondents also plan to increase personalization tactics—36% are increasing their focus on targeted marketing. Additionally, 30% of industry marketers plan to stay nimble by launching a new product or service to increase customer engagement as the pandemic continues.

Top 3 tactics identified by health and wellness marketers to avoid Q1 dropoff in 2021
1 Develop a loyalty program 40%
2 Put a greater emphasis on targeted marketing 36%
3 Launch a new product/service to increase engagement 30%

The Outlook for Health and Wellness Marketers

Although we were initially surprised by industry marketers’ commitment to New Year’s resolution messaging, we were also encouraged by respondents’ plans for 2021.

Even with the reliance on historic resolution messaging, it’s clear industry marketers have an idea of the challenges that lie ahead given their plans for loyalty programs, targeted marketing and new products and services. However, there’s no denying that health and wellness brands will face an uphill climb in connecting with consumers while they continue dealing with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To ensure that respondents’ planned tactics like loyalty programs and targeted marketing are successful, industry marketers should consider how AI and zero-party data can help.

AI can help organizations better understand how customers feel about their brand—in real time and across multiple channels—which can inform smarter strategies that build stronger emotional connections with target audiences. Zero-party data offers brands an effective way to transparently collect data from customers and build a mutual partnership.

By offering a personalized experience across all marketing channels, health and wellness brands can reduce New Year’s resolution customer attrition regardless of new challenges presented by the pandemic.

Want to know how you can do more to personalize your customer engagement strategy in 2021? Contact Iterable to see how we can help.

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