How to make a successful wellness product

My last company is adjacent to the wellness industry — helping people fix very real health issues. Through that experience, I was exposed to quite a lot of the utter fluff that's common in the industry, and was surprised by what worked, from a marketing point of view. The feeling of caring about your health and wellness seemed to matter more than making actual changes.

For example, some of the most popular blue light blocking glasses (used to improve sleep) block barely any blue light — you can optically see through them without a tint. And the supplement industry is wild.

Over time, I made a list of themes that I found across products that purport to increase overall wellness or improve chronic conditions. So, without further ado, here's how to make a successful wellness product:

  1. Have a health-related area that you will optimize. It's better if it's something everyone feels they could improve in, like "optimizing hormone levels" or "have more energy". Sleep and weight are also decent areas. Most people feel pretty mediocre most of the time. Better if it's an area of health not typically directly covered by primary care physicians, and best if subjective experience matters a lot.
  2. Be vague about benefits and cast a wide net. You're not practicing medicine, so you "support healthy living", "help reduce stress", "balance hormonal levels", etc.
  3. Rely on wellness influencers. Many people trust them more than their doctors, and buying sponsored posts can be quite cheap. Trust matters more than credibility. The influencers spend their time building trust with their audience, which brands can launder into effective sales channels.
  4. Don't make it too hard. Less hard than exercise. It needs to feel like it can be used easily.
  5. Don't make it too easy. Make it require intentionality. Wearing something helps, or have a device they have to actively use. If it's a supplement, create routines around usage.
  6. If someone might feels that it "isn't working", make sure it requires enough commitment where everyone but the most adherent customers can have a nagging feeling they didn't use it enough.
  7. Make sure there's obvious effects. The effects don't need to be related to the thing you're helping with, but there needs to be some sort of feeling, so people know "it's working".
  8. Include a lot of information. Learning can help people think they're privy to uncommon knowledge, and that your product leverages that newfound knowledge.
  9. Have some scientific path to plausibility. Studies in mice, observational studies, or from countries with dubious research reputation can be useful. For many people, "scientists have found that" is all they need.
  10. Have some science-ish sounding path to plausibility. These do not need to be papers, but can directly appeal to your customers own health intuitions. "Balance", "toxins", "align", and "stress" are all useful.

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