So here we are, Blue Monday.
How credible the 3rd Monday in January is as ‘the most depressing day of the year’ is highly questionable (the mathematically nonsensical formula delivered at the inception of Blue Monday was discredited almost as soon as it was announced).
However, there is truth in the fact that January is a tough month. Dark, dreary and long, the post-Christmas gloom is further enhanced by the fact that many people are skint and on the verge of breaking their New Year’s Resolutions.
This year Blue Monday falls quite early, with many brands still in their enthusiastic "New Year/ New You" mode; but since, on average, resolutions only last 21 days, should brands still be talking in this way? In fact should they have jumped on the resolution bandwagon in the first place?
PrettyGreen’s latest research into the topic has shown that, whilst there is a significant wellness drive from consumers immediately following the gluttony of Christmas, in actual fact the majority of people resolve to improve their health over 12 times a year and, whilst January is an established moment, only a quarter of people buy into big seasonal resolutions.
When taking a wider look at health and fitness goals, it is clear that the New Year period is more of a spike in a bigger trend towards wellbeing than the one-off moment it has always been treated as.
Google searches reveal that topics like "healthy eating", for example, see high volumes year-round and specific trends in dieting, e.g. "clean foods" and "sugar free" do not experience a peak on 1 January.
The Rise of the ‘Micro-Resolution’
These patterns mirror a shift in consumer habits from a big moment of reinvention to year-round, realistic micro goals.
Speaking to 100 consumers on the topic of making changes to their health and fitness, a vast 60% claim to be making positive changes to their diet at least every month, and 47% were setting monthly new fitness goals. Rather than setting huge, annual goals, people are making manageable ongoing changes.
Looking at the annual calendar, and setting aside the New Year period, there are multiple, additional, seasonal triggers which are currently underexploited by brands, including:
Overindulgence at Easter is an additional prompt for many people to change. This is swiftly followed by the start of British Summer Time, and a peak in summer holiday planning which focuses the mind on health for many people.
When clothes get lighter and fewer, there is a natural tendency to be more conscious of body shape, making ‘getting fit for the summer’ a message with significant relevance.
High profile sporting events
Predictable moments in the calendar, like Wimbledon and the World Cup offer opportunities for brands to have meaningful mid-year conversations.
The feeling of a new start in September is hardwired into the psyche of most people from their school days, making September is a trigger for positive life changes.
Looking good for the festive season provides a key end of year trigger for making healthy changes. As retailers fill the shelves with party wear, again consumers become more focused on their outward signs of looking good appearance.
But, perhaps more important, are the many, individual and often very personal incentives driving an interest in health and wellbeing. From birthdays to anniversaries, having children and going to weddings, conversation and interest in health is very much ongoing.
Get out of the January Blues
Resolutions are as much part of the New Year conversation as Champagne but, rather than jumping on the bandwagon, brands could be of far more value if they thought in terms of a calendar of ‘resolution moments’ – ongoing points throughout the year where they could support personal health and fitness plans, rather than orienting around the emotional rollercoaster of January.
Jo Hudson is planning director at PrettyGreen.