Monday, November 23

Stepping Backwards: Wellness & The Economy Study


According to a 2009 survey by Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness (SSW) on Wellness & The Economy, the current economic climate is having an adverse affect on wellness. Only 10 percent of the population feel wellness is related to being healthy, down from 47 percent before the recession.

Today, people tend to define wellness as changing behaviors, plans, and aspirations. And, the net result seems to be making the population collectively unwell. Their definition of wellness has been redefined as something as simple as paying the rent.

"While consumers haven't completely given up on the goal of health and balance, the definition of health has changed," said Johanna Skilling, director of strategic planning at SSW. "This means that as marketers, we have an important role to play in helping our constituents adapt to new realities in the marketplace."

As a whole, consumers are eating more carbs and sugars, exercising less, and investing less in their appearance. Equally striking was the assessment that most survey participants could be classified as affluent. Less affluent households are suffering even more.

Dropping another notch on the Maslow hierarchy of needs.

Maslow's hierarchy of needs, which is a model proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper, outlines a prioritization of human needs. It suggests people tend to pursue physiological needs first, security second, belonging third, self-esteem fourth, and self-actualization last.

Last year, it seemed apparent that the population was mostly focused on security — employment, resources, morality, and health. So if there is any validity in the SSW study, this might be another another step down. Today, people are satisfied with the status quo, provided it can meet their most basic needs.

Even among business leaders, meeting the most basic benchmarks seems to be enough. Marred by a global decline in perceived opportunities, increasingly competitive venture funding, and an over-pronounced fear of failure, 58 percent of companies are employing tactical, short-term initiatives that stress cost cutting and deferred investments (Ronin study) while, in the United States, there has been a 9 percent decrease in entrepreneurs under the age of 45 (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor study).

In other words, it seems older companies are being weighed down by institutional barriers that encourage protectionism (fight) and younger companies or would-be entrepreneurs are leaping toward the next opportunity before their existing projects are nurtured (flee). Ironically, both reactions come from the same emotion. Fear continues to be the primary economic driver, with relatively few exceptions.

What does that mean? The first companies that can remove fear from their planning will be the market leaders in the next decade. And the people who aspire to move their thinking beyond scarcity will likely be the more secure.

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