Dew Gibbons + Partners




After one of our client services team took part in a beginner Vedic meditation course with renowned practitioner Will Williams, she was delighted to see his opinion piece in Balance – a new, free wellbeing magazine. The topic? The pros and cons of pharmaceutical drugs versus herbal medicines – with a welcome (and unusual) conclusion that both have their place.

Even more welcome was the magazine itself. Unusually, this isn’t just aimed at the Millennial (featured celebrities were the decidedly ‘Generation X’ Sadie Frost and Idris Elba). Balance is determinedly age positive and resolutely unisex. Its subhead says ‘Live Well’ and it covers food, style, travel, body/soul, work/life, art/culture, and psychology. The only thing that seems to be missing? Health. Medicine isn’t entirely missing, but Health as a distinct category is conspicuous by its absence. Instead it’s just integrated into the much wider, modern – and more alluring – bracket of wellbeing. Wellbeing is something that works with you, you’re not just a passive recipient, you’re an active participant.

This is exactly the same tack we took in our presentation at the 2016 Nicholas Hall 27th OTC Conference: Building Blocks for a Successful OTC Brand. Last year’s conference signaled intent but little action from the big OTC players to deliver consumer-focused health solutions. This year, there was real urgency in the air.

Our presentation argued a whole range of factors – from wearables and big data through to an ageing, healthier demographic, and personalisation as a trend. All this means that consumers actively seek out those brands that are sympathetic and are tailored to their individual lifestyles. If OTC can’t do this and can’t create desire in their consumers – just like FMCG brands do – why on earth would consumers pay a premium for OTC when generic products can do the same job?

Change is definitely afoot. The ‘Fast Moving Consumer Health’ movement is arriving, with behemoths GSK and RB retooling their businesses to put consumer need and insight at the heart of their brand strategies. Other presentations from Sanofi and Coloplast inspired with clear recognition that the consumer is demanding something better, something more valuable, and something desirable in health – even for conditions that are deeply private or even distressing (as is the case for Coloplast, who provides solutions for intimate healthcare needs).

Ultimately it’s about centring a new consumer, the individual, who prizes prevention and has a wider definition of health than simply popping pills and potions. It’s heuristic health, not prescriptive health, unless absolutely necessary. Balance magazine is a firm flag in the ground that, far from being a passing fad, wellness is here to stay – and we already look forward to the next edition. OTC brands take note! 

Other reading:
Bionic Limbs To Self-Destructing Syringes: Wired Health
Open Eye: The Personalisation Issue
Open Eye: The Older Issue