Andrea Wroble
Andrea Wroble is a Health & Wellness Analyst at Mintel. Andrea focuses on writing reports and providing consumer-driven insights for health and wellness categories.

Throughout 2020, social awareness, political conversations and cultural awakenings have influenced consumer lifestyles and allegiances. Feeling connected to a cause is now at the core of American values and driving how adults interact with brands. According to Mintel research on personal activism, more than half of Americans believe buying from an ethical brand is a form of activism. The upcoming 2020 election is heightening consumer emotions: stress, worry and uncertainty about the future are top-of-mind. The country is currently facing a disruptive political climate and is on the cusp of drastic and unpredictable change, which is causing more than half of adults to feel apprehensive about the upcoming election, according to Mintel research on American values.

The burden of an election year alongside the health and financial concerns of COVID-19 is weighing heavily on US adults. In fact, more than half of US adults self-report experiencing stress in the past 12 months, with the top reason for their stress being concern about the future, according to Mintel research on managing stress and mental wellbeing.

Brand activism spins a new pillar of support

The events currently consuming American lifestyles will redefine what brand activism means to consumers in the future. Prior to the mindset shift occurring in 2020, brand activism was defined as brand involvement in social, political or environmental causes. Now, brands have a duty to support the needs and values of their community holistically, as companies and consumers navigate these difficult times together. Intention and authenticity are important themes in sending a relatable and genuine message to brand audiences.

For example, not all brands are equipped or suited to take a strong political stance, but remaining silent on topical issues impacting consumers is not an acceptable alternative. Instead, during the pre-election timeframe, brands can focus on the mental and emotional health of consumers as a way to build connections. This approach resonates, as more than four in five US adults believe open discussions about mental illness benefit society.

Olly launches female-focused collection of self-care solutions

In September 2020, VMS brand Olly launched four supplements within the new “Future Is Female” collection. The supplements are formulated to support women’s health needs, including urinary tract health, sexual wellness, balanced mood and digestive health. Along with the product line up, Olly revealed a campaign titled #inthegirlsroom to normalize conversations about stigmatized topics in feminine health. Olly’s marketing efforts use election jargon and timeliness to highlight health and wellness themes important to the brand and its following.

Anecdote honors the year 2020 with limited edition candles

Anecdote Candles, the brand known for making candles a conversation piece, is launching limited-edition candles in late October to represent 2020 and 2021. The goal of the launch is to match consumer sentiment – acknowledging the stress, uncertainty and discouragement many are currently facing and build hope for the future. The brand has built popularity by embracing cultural moments and trends, allowing the limited-edition extension to feel authentic and relatable.

As noted in their press release, new fragrances “2020 – SMELLS LIKE WFH AND WTF” has scents of amber and mandarin because the brightness of mandarin reflects the optimism of a new decade, while the depth and weight of amber reflect the unexpected complexities 2020 gave us. And, “2021 – SMELLS LIKE NOT SOON ENOUGH” has scents of cedarwood and oud because the calming blend of fresh and earthy fragrances is a reminder of life’s fullness and all of the things that are worth the wait.

According to the company founder, “Many have asked if we have a candle that’s reflective of the times. Now that the hysteria has died down, we’re ready to put our social commentary in candle form with our release of the Limited Edition Candle of the Year for 2020 and 2021.” More than ever, adults recognize mental and emotional health as critical components of overall wellness. Products such as essential oils or aromatherapy promote relaxation through mood-enhancing properties, catering to both mental and physical relief.

Hers creates a support system for stressed-out voters

Hers, the wellness platform dedicated to providing accessible and affordable prescription and non-prescription products/resources, now offers mental health services. One offering within the mental health portfolio is anonymous support groups for users to join about a variety of topics, such as coping with COVID-19, managing anxiety and discussing lack of focus/productivity. As the election nears, Hers has added a free, election-based support group to discuss mindfulness while staying informed. The Hers platform is based on providing cost-effective access to medical products and advice. Gearing messaging toward mental wellbeing during a time of uncertainty is in line with the company’s values. Nearly half of consumers are most passionate about supporting affordable healthcare, meaning free or low-cost initiatives to improve and support the wellbeing of Americans will be well-received.

What consumers want and why

The happenings of 2020 have put Americans on high alert and election-based stress is adding to already-anxious consumer mindsets. Core values are driving interactions, relationships and purchase habits. Brands have the opportunity to go beyond supporting the same beliefs as their consumers by supporting consumer wellbeing. Stress and uncertainty are commonplace, and adults will seek relatable resources to gain control, ease their mind, or foster a sense of community.