The Edit Blog

Rethinking in a recession: Self-care

ARTICLE BY Polly Waines
READ TIME: 4 mins
28th October 2020

Woman exercising on yoga mat, which she bought for self-care.

For a little while, self-care has been having a moment. Google searches are soaring, the #selfcare Instagram hashtag exceeds 35 million posts and over 100,000 products on Amazon have attached themselves to the trend. All told, taking care of your mental health has evolved to become a $10-billion industry. And business is booming.

So, how will the self-care industry weather the storm of 2020? And what strategies can companies put in place to strike the right balance amid the pandemonium that is this year?

Looking after ourselves in lockdown

Lockdown appears to have fostered our collective need to look after ourselves better. For most of this year, consumers have been adjusting their lifestyle to adapt to life at home. The concept of self-care seems to complement this.

Take exercise, for example. In place of trips to the gym, people sought inventive and makeshift ways to keep fit. Amazon sold out of yoga mats and over a million families tuned into Joe Wicks on YouTube every morning. People tried exercising at home, got used to it and enjoyed it. New habits can take some encouragement. But as Joe’s daily workouts showed, once they’re ingrained, they tend to stick.

The Joe Wicks story is a familiar one. Many of the new habits we acquired over lockdown were done so under the banner of self-care. 41% of us reported to be reading more. And Nielson Books noted how new self-help titles such as Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given have sold highly during the pandemic. So too have previous bestsellers in this genre. Downloads of mindfulness apps doubled between March and June. And 59% of people are finding more time for relaxation and personal interests.

The lipstick effect

Of course, after lockdown came the recession. Recessions impact our wallets and, more often than not, limit our spending. What impact might this have on the self-care boom?

Less than you might think. ‘The Lipstick Effect’ was coined by Leonard Lauder, chairman of Estée Lauder, based on the principle that sales of beauty products are inversely correlated with the health of the economy.

In times of economic stress, the purchasing of high-end items becomes less impulsive. More restrained. Big Ticket items are harder to sell. However, we are only human and the “treat yourself” mindset of self-care duly persists.

It’s human nature to seek a pick me up, perhaps more so than ever when times are tough. And entry price products are the perfect way to cheer ourselves up, guilt free.

For consumers, the popularity – and persistence – of the self-care banner could be seen to provide another means of justifying frivolous, low spend purchases throughout all manner of economic turbulences.

For companies outside the self-care industry, this could prove useful. Think about your ‘gateway’ or entry products and how certain segments of new customers might find them to be a useful distraction or mood booster in these uncertain times.

Mindsets

While moulding touchpoints into the self-care banner may feel like a natural strategy for companies at this time, it’s perhaps unwise to exhaust the logic of self-care being an easy fix for re-engaging a despondent customer.

Consumers today are living through the sharpest economic pullback in modern history. For many, the fear of the virus itself adds to this stress, along with the collective impact of social distancing and varying rules of how we live our lives. Mentally, the outlook is bad: anxiety and depression levels are up.

Navigating self-care during the recession

Together, the recession and the pandemic are two ugly truths that we haven’t got experience of navigating together. For brands, finding the right balance is going to be an ongoing and delicate challenge.

Brands that occupy the self-care space already are well placed. Lockdown has provided a boost for and a heightened collective acceptance of the industry that feels like it’s here to stay. But this shouldn’t equate to complacency.

Self-care brands should re-connect with their early adopters. The people who got there first. How have their habits changed over the course of the last few years? How can their loyalty be noted, celebrated, or even rewarded? Conversely, those new customers that arrived with lockdown may be finding it hard to maintain their new habits. What can their engagement tell you about their mindset? Can any encouragement be offered to help them meet their goals?

Tempting as it is, those outside the self-care space should avoid tapping into this industry to meet objectives. Customers are smart. They know about bandwagons and it may feel flippant, insincere, or perhaps exploitative to suddenly start talking to them about their mental or physical health. Take a look at Bryony Gordon’s recent tweet about World Mental Health day to see how this manifests:

Companies would instead be wise to remember the adversity that customers are facing and to remain sympathetic to that as and when appropriate. Analyse your customer engagement trends over the last 6 months versus the same period last year. See what it’s telling you. And think of appropriate ways to reach out to old and loyal customers in a way that is relevant and meaningful to them.

Using data science to find your approach to self-care

The best way to work out how to engage your customers with self-care is by asking the data. Whether that’s looking at who your early adopters were or who your new customers are, you need to do your research to expertly handle what is a delicate topic.

Customer segmentation is one avenue to explore. It reveals more about the kinds of people your customers are, including what their motivations and interests are. That’ll help you steer the kind of messaging and products to target them with.

Similarly, if you aren’t a business in the self-care space, or even if you are and discover that this kind of messaging isn’t working for your customers, customer segmentation could reveal other avenues that is engaging your audience.

Our data scientists can segment your customer base, revealing who to focus your efforts on, while our planning team can propose a CRM strategy that’ll delight them in these bleak times. Whether you’re thinking about reaching your customers with your self-care solutions, or you need another tactic to reach them in this recession, we can help you.