Thinking of creating your very own wellness product? Or fancy exhibiting at Balance Festival next year? We caught up with our New Business + Partnerships Manager Claire Edwards, to find out her views on product innovation, sustainability and role model brands who’ve been paving the way in 2018.
What makes a wellness brand/product innovative?
I think two of the biggest aspects of innovation we see in the wellness sector are probably convenience and sustainability.
Convenience is always a driving force in innovation, but I think it’s particularly relevant to the wellness industry because it’s often considered the opposite to the world of ‘convenient fast-food’ and people imagine that eating healthily means spending hours in their kitchens making kale smoothies and meal prepping for days. Now we have a host of exciting brands proving this isn’t the case. These new generation brands are coming up with innovative ways of making nutritious snacks, smoothies, desserts or even fully balanced meals available as conveniently as any of their ‘less-healthy’ alternatives that prevail in the supermarket aisles.
Sustainability and wellness often go hand in hand, which I think is a really positive association. Ways of re-purposing produce that would otherwise go to waste is a fantastically innovative way of creating a new product and supporting sustainability efforts. Terrific examples of this are Chicp and Snact who take surplus fresh produce which would have otherwise been rejected due to their shape or size and create delicious hummus and on-the-go snacks respectively.
What’s the current climate for wellness brands?
It’s such an exciting time to be launching a wellness brand - we’re constantly reading how our industry is experiencing a period of accelerated growth which hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. This is being firmly acknowledged outside of the wellness sector, as well with more ‘mainstream’ brands following suit and adding more wellness or health conscious initiatives to their product offerings. We’ve seen every high-street fashion retailer from ASOS, to Ted Baker and Marks & Spencer’s launching their own ranges of activewear, Tesco have collaborated with chef Derek Sarno on a plant-based range of ready-meals and even Baileys, the ultimate indulgence, have launched Baileys Almande (a dairy-free & lower calorie substitute) to appeal to the wellness consumer.
The boom in this sector does obviously mean there is fierce competition so it’s not necessarily a straight line to success, but the ever increasing shift towards healthier living and wellbeing among consumers in the UK means opportunities for smart wellness entrepreneurs will continue to grow.
In your opinion, which brands/products have been paving the way in 2018?
I think audiences are getting smarter and more discerning in their purchases, making them less likely to fall for classic marketing hooks/gimmicks. I think the brands leading the way are ones that acknowledge this and are more open and honest about their ingredients and their respective health benefits. I think a great example of this is Neat Nutrition- they were really the first protein supplement brand to move away from the ‘big-tub’ style packaging in an effort remove the connotations connected with ‘protein shakes’ being just for gym bunnies. They took things back to basics with a simplified product range ,clear labelling following the ‘5-ingredients rule’, and a hand crafted feel to their packaging and this approach has led them to great success.
What new approach are wellness brands beginning to take?
I think the biggest difference in the approach is one of communication and actually listening and identifying what an audience is looking for first, rather than creating a product and then using clever advertising tricks to convince people they want it. I think wellness brands have a bit of a natural edge because the majority are fairly small-scale independents which means they can be super reactive to communication. For example, speaking to actual (or potential) consumers via social media gives them real-time insights into their marketing activities so they can adjust accordingly and means they can adapt and amend strategies when necessary, which is why you see start-ups place such high value in their social media voice and strategy.
Events are another great platform to genuinely communicate with their customers, and probably the most impactful channel to establish a true meaningful connection between a brand and their core audience. In our experience running Balance Festival we’ve noticed the exhibitors who choose not just to educate people but to seek genuine feedback from their target audience tend to have the most valuable experiences at the festival. Ultimately today’s savvy consumer buys brands that epitomise their lifestyle, brands that reinforce who they are as individuals – it is therefore essential for brands to be authentic and always be true to their brand promise whether the discussion takes place online, face-to-face or at point of sale.
What kind of brands exhibit at Balance Festival?
Our exhibitors fall into a really wide range of categories from across food & drink, beauty, fashion, technology, fitness equipment, lifestyle but I think the common factor is the target audience. Balance Festival has historically attracted a young health-conscious and sophisticated female audience who have embraced wellness as a lifestyle and an intrinsic extension of who they are. The Balance audience is always keen to explore new ways to improve their health, which fits pretty perfectly with the target audience of our exhibitors so they know it’s a fantastic way to reach the right people.
I’d also say our exhibitors are those that value quality over quantity. As festival curators we put a lot of work and effort into making the visitor's experience of the festival the best it can possibly be wherever they are in their own wellness journey. Meaningful and highly immersive experiences spanning food, fitness, wellness and fashion are at the core of everything we do. Being a kimchi-making workshop, a sound bath or a mass HIIT workout on the main stage – Balance Festival has been designed to allow our visitors to experience wellness in ways they have never experienced before, and at the same time we want to give them a chance to engage with brands that have the potential to help optimise their health and wellbeing. It’s a win win.
What does Balance Festival look for in its recruitment of brands/products?
Firstly, we love to work with brands that are as passionate about health and wellness as we are!
When we receive new exhibitor applications we always have a look at their website and social channels to look for the ‘why’ behind the brand and check firstly that they have one, and secondly that it aligns with our values. In the past we have had to make some difficult decisions to choose not to work with companies that we felt were in conflict with these values, for example those that offer specific ‘weight-loss’ products as we want to be careful that the message of the festival stays focused on finding health on your own terms and not dieting or losing weight as the lines between these can be very blurred in our society!
What’s Balance Festival’s approach with regards to brands/products this year?
We want to stay true to the principles that Balance was founded from the start - to help people achieve a more fulfilling life balance.
Want to exhibit at Balance Festival 2019? Sign up right here!