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How to help Gen Zers keep their New Year's resolutions to stay healthy

by John Wheeler
    UNiDAYS x AdAge: Gen Z Marketing Playbook

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    Gen Zers takes their New Year’s fitness and dieting resolutions seriously — especially when presented with creative solutions to staying healthy. Here’s how brands can help them stay on track.

    Every year, billions of people start off the new year by making a firm resolution to better themselves, whether that may be by quitting smoking, saving more money, spending more time with their friends and family or getting back in shape. Year after year, fitness is at the absolute top of the heap of priorities. And this holds true for Gen Z. Like every generation on record on January 1st, Gen Z’s champing at the bit for all things fit and healthy.

    It goes without saying that new years presents a huge opportunity for gyms, fit-tech companies and health-conscious restaurant chains alike. Millennials may still lay claim to the title of the fittest generation in recent history for the time being, but Gen Zers are already giving them a run for their share of the estimated $3.2 trillion global wellness market. A recent global health and wellness study by UNiDAYS and Ad Age finds that 68 percent of Gen Z students believe a “well-balanced diet is critical” to their personal well-being, while 61 percent of respondents cite “exercise as a major concern.”

    Download the report: How Gen Z is redefining health and wellness


    Forget the whole notion of resolutions. Make it about goals.

    A “resolution” takes all the fun out of changing your life. It forces your hardest efforts into an ironclad, rigid, and guilt-inducing chore. Who needs all that old-fashioned baggage? Who needs all those rules? Not Gen Zers — and not the marketers looking to engage them.

    Rather than making a marketing campaign that’s focused on guilt-tripping Gen Zers into “keeping” their “resolutions,” get into a goal-focused mindset that takes into consideration the whole year ahead. Reward them for accomplishing their health-goal milestones; don’t penalize them for failing to keep up with them like a drill sergeant. One good example? A Canadian health app named Carrot actually rewards users with free gas and airline miles if they commit to exercising a certain amount.

    Gen Zers don’t believe in a one-way-or-the-highway approach to accomplishing goals — and there’s no shame in occasionally not following fitness and diet restrictions down to the last, precise kilometer or calorie. But using rewards points to get them into shape? Yes, please.

    Show how your brand fits into the bigger picture of their health

    When it comes to health, Gen Z doesn’t draw as distinct a line between gyms or healthy quick-service restaurant chains: They’re all part of the same, holistic ecosystem that’s meant to nourish them. Brands can no longer afford to think of their particular vertical as a silo that’s neatly independent from all other health-related industries. Rather, they must break down those silos to serve Gen Z’s overall need for a healthy lifestyle.

    Here’s one possible approach: adding extra credentials to your health brand by creating partnerships with other companies. If you’re a gym, you may want to consider partnering with a fitness app. If you’re a health-food chain, you may want to consider collaborating with a popular athletic apparel brand to get your point across: that in fact your true aim is to support healthier living, even if that support reaches beyond your primary vertical.

    Don’t underestimate Gen Z’s inner health-foodiness

    Here’s something you may not know: A significant percentage of Gen Z plans its eats and drinks in a meticulous fashion. Another global study by UNiDAYS found an overwhelming concern among Gen Zers for healthy food options.

    84 percent of survey respondents stated that “healthy ingredients” are important to them. 72 percent emphasized the need for high-protein ingredients in their food. And 66 percent said “organic is important” when considering what (and where) to eat.

    There’s no single path to “getting it right”

    Gen Z, as always, remains quirky in the way it chooses to approach healthy. This is, after all, a generation that fully embraces using an app ostensibly about fleeing zombies in order to train for 5k runs. In short, there’s no single path to brands encouraging Gen Z to get trim and fit for new year’s. But being imaginative definitely helps.

      UNiDAYS x AdAge: Gen Z Marketing Playbook


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