Mental Health, Gen Z and Brand Marketing
Jul 19, 2023
While what may appear fun-worthy and trivial to some, could be traumatizing to someone’s mental well-being, even leading to suicidal thoughts. Mental health has long been a prevalent issue but has gained attention in recent times. It is crucial to address such concerns to ensure that individuals are not made to feel their concerns are baseless.
Gen Z, the frontrunner in so many aspects are the most impacted by mental health problems with 68% acknowledging the pandemic’s negative impact on their mental well-being. Their top-notch priority has prompted brands to discover the key to customer satisfaction, more like an opportunity for brands to cajole their target audience. They understand that aligning with consumers’ emotions and morality is just as crucial and lucrative as catering to their wants and preferences. The consumers of today seek brands that don’t just advertise themselves but go all out to support social issues.
Importance of Mental Health:
According to Ogilvy reports, 70% of this cohort prioritize their mental health for attention and improvement. McKinsey Insights further states that 25% of Gen Z experience emotional distress, which is nearly double the levels reported by older generations.
Mental health is a grave concern that should not be overlooked. Mental and physical well-being go together. It not only affects individuals personally but also impacts their environment and overall existence, spanning academics, career, personal life, professional life, and social life. Today’s generation, including Gen Z, is actively challenging the stigma, prioritizing self-care, and advocating for improved support systems. By investing in mental health early on, individuals can cultivate long-term well-being and resilience, fostering a healthier and more inclusive society for themselves and future generations.
How are brands levering Mental Health for Marketing?
As consumer behaviour evolves, brands must adapt their strategies to align with social issues, combat stigma and fulfil their corporate social responsibility (CSR). Undeniably, meeting these new responsibilities is crucial for marketers to maintain competitiveness in the disruptive environment.
While not all brands entertain this concern, some are going the extra mile to address this critical issue by ensuring the following-
Building trust and authenticity:
Generation Z and younger demographics value authenticity and transparency from brands. By addressing mental health in a sincere and empathetic manner, brands can build trust and resonate with their audience. This fosters a stronger connection and loyalty, as consumers appreciate brands that genuinely care about their well-being.
Educating and raising awareness:
Brands can play a pivotal role in educating their audience about mental health issues, symptoms, and available resources. This way, brands can empower individuals to seek help, offer guidance for managing mental health challenges, and promote overall well-being.
For instance, Mindfulness and meditation apps like Headspace and Calm effectively incorporate mental health awareness into their branding. They offer guided meditation, sleep aid, and stress reduction techniques, partnering with different brands to prioritize mental well-being through access to their services.
Campaigns, Communities, Charity:
Brands can support mental health through initiatives such as awareness campaigns, partnerships with mental health organizations, employee wellness programs, and charities which can enhance their reputation and attract socially conscious consumers.
For instance, Google, through its philanthropic arm, Google.org, has supported various mental health initiatives, including grants to organizations working on suicide prevention and mental health research.
Promoting well-being and self-care:
Brands that incorporate mental health into their marketing can position themselves as advocates for well-being and self-care. By offering products, services, or resources that promote mental well-being, brands can provide practical support to their customers. This approach helps to create a positive association with the brand and reinforces the message that they genuinely care about their customers’ holistic health.
Promoting open conversations:
Brands have the power to spark and normalize conversations around mental health. They are creating mental health awareness campaigns that encourage open dialogue about mental health, aiming to destigmatize mental health and create a safe space for discussion.
For instance, Snapchat’s “Here For You” feature provides mental health resources and content when users search for topics related to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
Integrating mental health into product messaging:
Brands often include mental health themes or messages in their advertising and product packaging. For example, they might emphasize the importance of self-care or stress relief when promoting their products, aligning their brand image with mental well-being. This way, consumers feel a sense of resonance and might give in.
Eg- Fenty Beauty, known for its inclusive makeup products, has emphasized the importance of self-expression and self-care. They have partnered with mental health organizations to raise awareness and provide support.
Collaborating with influencers, celebrities, or athletes:
Brands often partner with influencers who are vocal about mental health issues or have a personal connection to the topic. These collaborations can involve creating content, hosting events, or developing joint campaigns to reach a wider audience and engage with followers who are passionate about mental health.
For instance, Nike’s “Real Talk” campaign partnered with athletes to raise awareness about mental health among young athletes. By sharing personal stories and breaking down stigma, the campaign emphasized the significance of seeking help and highlighted the importance of mental health alongside physical well-being.
Approaching regular people:
Brands often collaborate with influencers and celebrities, but they also seek regular people or target audiences to share their stories and endorse products/services, as authentic experiences resonate more with young consumers.
What brands must avoid concerning Mental Health marketing:
Brands must genuinely align with social causes, supporting them with unwavering core values, before any endorsements or advertisements. Greenwashing, where brands make false claims of support without true commitment and effort, should be avoided. Building a meaningful connection demonstrates a brand’s dedication, while misalignment can harm the reputation and erode trust.
Not solely profit-driven:
Gen Z is increasingly discerning about brand intentions. Therefore, there shouldn’t be any exploitation of values with ulterior intentions, inauthenticity, or false promises just for the sake of profit-making.
Not taking it lightly:
Brands must ensure they do not oversimplify this complex subject. It’s not something trivial so it must be addressed with utmost care, consciousness, and empathy.
The boomers know what brands are doing and how actively they are doing something. Instead of just taking to social media platforms on special days or movements like pride month, #metoo, or mental health awareness, it’s ideal to incorporate mental health into the roots of branding. The foundation of brands must be built on social responsibility along with other factors.
To recapitulate, it’s critical for brands to address mental health marketing responsibly and proactively. They must stay consistent with their efforts, align their values with their concerns, and provide support to create an impact on individuals and society for a fulfilling life.