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Marketing Meets Health & Wellness In Latest Brand Partnerships

September 25, 2020 Digital Media Solutions

walmart employees

While most consumers were hunkered down at home during this spring, essential workers like Walmart employees continued to fulfill their duties so others could access groceries and other important items. Prioritizing the health and wellness of its workforce, Walmart is partnering with Thrive Global to protect and incentivize their employees’ wellbeing. The retailer is using the app Thrive ZP to help Walmart employees make better choices in six categories: food, fitness, family, money, gratitude and sleep. In the midst of COVID-19, employee health programs are not just extra perks. In fact, health programs are becoming essential services to improve immunity to disease, stress management and the mental adaptability of employer workforces. 

Consumers are demanding more from the brands and retailers who provide their daily goods and services. In addition to a heightened emphasis on social responsibility, consumers also want to see brands prioritizing values related to health, wellness and general well being expressed in both consumer and employee relations. Similarly to Walmart, major brands such as Amazon, CVS, Starbucks and Target are forming strategic partnerships to improve and expand their health and wellness programs, following industry best practices to provide maximum benefits to employees. 

Walmart & Thrive ZP Partnership Gives Life To Shifting Brand Values

Walmart’s partnership with Thrive Global, a behavioral change technology company started by Arianna Huffington, is based on the belief that every individual has the power to transform their life by making small, healthier choices. Walmart employees and their families were encouraged to begin a 21-day challenge, starting September 1, and share their successes with others via the Thrive ZP app. The Walmart/Thrive ZP challenge inspired users to incrementally celebrate progress as they were encouraged to make “better choices” every day. “At Walmart, I've seen firsthand how small changes lead to big results, for both our associates and our customers,” said David Hoke, Senior Director of Associate Health and Wellbeing at Walmart. Research has revealed that workplace culture is the most significant factor in worker engagement and wellbeing, and the inspirational success stories from over 230,000 entries on Thrive ZP app confirm the positive cultural shift. 

CVS & Amazon Focus on Total Health

CVS Health, the largest pharmacy chain in the U.S., and Amazon, the largest online retailer, are each forming strategic partnerships to expand and improve the health and wellness of their employees and consumers. The scope and scale of the CVS and Amazon health and wellness programs show a focus on “total health” the physical, mental and social well-being for all.

Focus On Fitness: CVS & Apple Fitness+ Partnership

CVS Health

This month, CVS announced that they are partnering with Apple to offer special access for their clients, customers and employees to the Fitness+ subscription program, a “personalized fitness experience” designed to be used with the new Apple watch due out later this year. The CVS and Apple wellness partnership is an expansion of the relationship between Aetna, a CVS Health Company, and Apple. Originally established in 2016, the Aetna/Apple partnership saw 90% of participants in the program reporting a health benefit from the use of their Apple Watches. Increasing engagement and motivation to become fit is the goal of the new CVS/Apple partnership, and Apple Fitness+ purports to seamlessly integrate Apple Music with workouts from top trainers and metrics from the iPhone and Apple watch. The latest science suggests that being fit boosts our immune systems and that even a single workout can improve our ability to fight off germs. Jonathan Mayhew, Executive Vice President and Chief Transformation Officer for CVS Health said, "Innovative fitness offerings like Fitness+ are even more critical as people strive to maintain their health during these challenging times."

The Company Clinic: Amazon & Crossover Health

In July, Amazon announced their partnership with Crossover Health to open clinics in 20 locations, offering a range of medical, dental, mental health and wellness services for Amazon employees. The Crossover Health clinics will be sited near Amazon fulfillment centers and operations facilities. The wide range of health and wellness services and the exclusive access for Amazon employees and their families make the partnership with Crossover Health a ground-breaking program. “Now it’s more important than ever to make care available through multiple channels and across the full continuum. Our advanced primary care model will serve as vital infrastructure to deliver expanded access to care in-person and online to meet the needs of Amazon’s employees and their families.” said Scott Shreeve, MD, CEO and co-founder of Crossover Health. 

Starbucks & Target Launch Mental Health & Wellbeing Partnerships 

The CDC acknowledges that the measures for keeping the coronavirus at bay may increase the incidence of stress, anxiety and loneliness. Starbucks and Target are focusing their strategic partnerships on the mental health of their employees, clients and customers.

Starbucks & Lyra Health Partner For Employee Mental Health

Shutterstock_720054724 Bangkok, Thailand - Sep 8, 2017: Starbucks iced coffee on wooden counter in Starbucks coffee shop, against blur Starbucks employee worker preparing beverage for customer, Selective focus

At the outset of the pandemic, Starbucks announced their innovative partnership with Lyra Health to improve the mental health of their employees in this time of stress. The Starbucks/Lyra Health program allows employees and their families up to 20 free mental health sessions, in person or via video, with a therapist or coach each year. Daniel H. Gillison, Jr., CEO of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), said of the program: “We know having access to free mental health sessions can make a positive impact on anyone struggling with their mental health. This is a new standard for employee benefits which will not only improve the lives of individuals but also the company.”

Target Mental Health Partners With Daylight & Sleepio Apps

In their efforts to help their employees deal with the stress of the pandemic, Target has partnered with a variety of online mental health services and apps to provide 24/7 mental health support and therapy. Target has created a team member LifeResources hotline to connect employees to mental health counselors free of charge around the clock. For employees with medical coverage through the company, Target is also working with the web-based mobile health apps Daylight and Sleepio. Daylight features therapy to cope with worry and anxiety, and Sleepio uses cognitive behavioral therapy to improve sleep. Target’s partnership with United Healthcare provides Bullseye Healthspot, a service the company calls a “healthcare concierge,” encouraging employees to be advocates for their own health by granting access to a call center team to answer questions about physical or mental health coverage or services. Target is also partnering with Weight Watchers for nutrition and weight loss management and Cirrus MD for instant access to medical providers. 

Health & Fitness Marketing Partnerships Connect Brands To Evolving Consumer Values

Shutterstock_772800382 Sporty young woman is preparing healthy food on light kitchen. Green healthy food concept.

Ophelia Yeung, Senior Research Fellow at Global Wellness Institute, states, “In the last few years, wellness has become a dominant lifestyle value that is profoundly changing consumer behavior and changing the markets.” It is clear consumers are not going to blindly give their loyalty to brands that do not align with their evolving, more socially focused values. The pandemic has accelerated the need for brands to step up and show increased care for consumers and employees. As the pandemic continues, brands are looking for ways to connect to shifting consumer trends in health and fitness. 

Further fueled by the events of COVID-19, many of the latest campaigns and partnerships launched by major brands are aimed at health and wellness initiatives, providing opportunities for brands to connect to a growing health-conscious market. Earning real estate on a consumer’s mobile device and within other consumer tech products helps brands to stay connected to target audiences as digital channels become more competitive. By leveraging effective targeting, partnerships with tech gadgets and apps can help brands increase engagement and also deepen their understanding of their target audiences. 

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Digital Media Solutions

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