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EURO RSCG WORLDWIDE
Vol. 12, 2012
My Body, Myself, Our Problem:
Health and Wellness in Modern Times
Prosumer Reports is a series of thought leadership
publications by Euro RSCG Worldwide—part of a global
initiative to share information and insights, including our
own proprietary research, across the Euro RSCG network
of agencies and client companies.
Euro RSCG Worldwide is a leading integrated marketing
communications agency and was the first agency to be
named Global Agency of the Year by both Advertising Age
and Campaign in the same year. Euro RSCG is made up
of 233 offices in 75 countries and provides advertising,
marketing, corporate communications, and digital and
social media solutions to clients, including Air France,
BNP Paribas, Charles Schwab, Citigroup, Danone Group,
Heineken USA, IBM, Kraft Foods, Lacoste, Merck,
Pernod Ricard, PSA Peugeot Citroën, Reckitt Benckiser,
Sanofi, and Volvo. Headquartered in New York,
Euro RSCG Worldwide is the largest unit of Havas, a world
leader in communications (Euronext Paris SA: HAV.PA).
For more information about Prosumer Reports, please visit
www.prosumer-report.com or contact Naomi Troni, global
chief marketing officer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow us on Twitter @prosumer_report.
“The greatest wealth is health.”
Table of Contents
Humans and Health: The New Deal ................................................................................................................ 4
Prosumer Nation: A Subculture of Proactive Health Consumers ............................................. 6
Global Wellness Scorecard ....................................................................................................................................... 8
Sense of Control Changes Everything .......................................................................................................... 10
The New Notion of Health Solidarity: Factoring in Finance ....................................................... 12
Brains and Diet: Key Weapons in the Fight for Good Health ..................................................... 14
Marketing Implications ............................................................................................................................................. 24
Back to the Future ........................................................................................................................................................ 26
My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times 3
Humans and Health: Percentage increase in
annual rate of new cancer
Everything about how people regard, prevent,
and treat physical ailments is changing.
The New Deal cases worldwide in past
In 1970, the Boston Women’s Health Book Collective
published the first edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, a CN A third important shift influencing the healthcare
landscape is globalization. Though there continue to
book intended to inspire and empower women to be local variations on notions of what constitutes
become their own “health experts” through education, good health, how it can be fostered, and how illness
access to information, and open discussions of issues Modernized medicine: Public Chinese should be treated, thinking about health is moving
hospitals make about 60% of their closer to standardization in every country because
related to health. In the four decades since, the extent
Impact of aging population: revenue through the sale of
to which the relationship between humans and their it increasingly draws on a global body of medical
Per capita healthcare spending pharmaceuticals.5
health has evolved is astounding. In part, that’s because research and knowledge. Healthcare specialists train
increased knowledge and new tools and technologies is 5.6 times higher for people and work internationally, pharmaceutical companies
have removed some of the mystery and unthinking age 65+ than for children.2 draw on global resources and look for products with
acquiescence from the healthcare equation. Thanks to global potential, universities and research institutes
the Internet and social media, we are no longer at the collaborate across borders, and all of the above meet
mercy of the medical profession; we can research our and mix at international congresses and conventions.
illnesses, hunt for alternative treatment options, and
find out whether another practitioner might be better In 2011, Euro RSCG Worldwide undertook a major
suited for our care. global study on the new realities in health and
wellness. Working with research partner Market
Our changing relationship with our health also has Probe International, we fielded an extensive online
to do with the nature of today’s ailments. As medical survey in 19 countries around the world, representing
science advances, dying is increasingly perceived less Average life expectancy in Brazil a combined population of 3.6 billion.8 Our respondent
as a fate to be accepted than as a failure of disease increased from 45.5 years in base is made up of 7,213 men and women age 18 or
management. For the most part, people in prosperous 1940 to 72.86 years in 2008.3 older. What our study has uncovered is a revolution
parts of the world aren’t succumbing to disasters. in attitudes toward health—led by Prosumers and
Australia spent 8.5% of GDP
Nor are they dying in infancy or being cut down by with important implications for brands both within
on healthcare in 2008 (vs.
communicable disease or infection in their primes. and outside the healthcare arena.
16% in the U.S.).6
As communities live longer, death increasingly comes
from the malfunctioning and decay of body systems:
cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune conditions,
1 World Cancer Research Fund
and degenerative diseases. In a number of these cases, 2 www.hhs.gov
lifestyle plays at least as great a role as heredity or Percentage of world’s population
3 Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics
living in countries where overweight 4 WHO
chance. And that changes everything about how people and obesity kills more people than Percentage of countries 5 PBS NewsHour
regard, prevent, and treat physical disorders. underweight.4 6 OECD
with no mental health
8 Findings from three Middle Eastern countries—Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and
Topline Findings the United Arab Emirates—were fielded by a separate vendor and are
available to Euro RSCG employees and clients upon request.
Healthcare is moving out of The Western world is moving Consumers in disparate markets Prosumers are taking a multipronged As populations age, brain health Many aspects of modern life Health and finances are Consumers are looking to
the sole control of medical toward a more Eastern view of feel remarkably confident in approach to healthcare, including is becoming a paramount concern, are considered deleterious to linked: The least healthy their brand partners for help
authorities and into the hands personal responsibility, one that their control over a variety of tapping into social networks for free and people are seeking new ways health. By the same token, many are most vulnerable to the in keeping their health and
of individuals. Opportunities regards health as something to diseases and disorders. They expertise to reduce medical costs. to protect and promote it. of the activities deemed best for economy, while the poor wellness goals on track. A nudge
abound for brands to better be maintained and supported also share a strong belief in the us (e.g., sleep, exercise) largely are most vulnerable to in the right direction can go a
equip consumers to help ward off over time rather than remedied power of the mind to heal. lie outside the world of modern disease. Healthcare decisions long way toward strengthening a
illness and maximize well-being. with quick fixes. commerce and consumption. increasingly are based not relationship.
just on efficacy but on cost.
4 Prosumer Report, Vol. 12 My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times 5
Prosumer Nation: A Subculture of Mainstream Prosumers % agreeing strongly/somewhat Prosumers and Health
Proactive Health Consumers As in other areas of their lives, Prosumers
use information to wield power in the
When we look at our research findings, the most significant distinctions are not between healthcare arena. As far back as 2004,
men and women, the various age groups, or even countries and cultures. The most consistent I pay a lot of attention to health issues our studies showed that 72 percent of
differences are in the attitudes and behaviors of leading-edge Prosumers and their mainstream and consider myself well informed in U.S. Prosumers searched for medical
counterparts. For more than a decade, Euro RSCG has tracked Prosumers as they have shifted
the balance of power away from retailers and manufacturers and instead toward themselves.
Now they are using their access to information and new tools of communication to siphon
52 this area.
information online. Today, each of the
most popular health-oriented websites
power away from the medical community, as well. (e.g., Yahoo! Health, WebMD, MedicineNet)
receives well over 10 million visitors a
Looking at findings from the current study and our 2010 New Consumer research, we’ve found month. We have also seen an explosion
that Prosumers are significantly more apt to be informed about health, to be more proactive of books and other publications intended
health advocates for themselves and their families, and even to believe they can, to some to help consumers fight off particular
extent, control whether they get sick. I have become a stronger advocate diseases or simply improve their overall
for my own health and/or my family’s health; among them: Anticancer: A New
health; I no longer automatically accept
A New Relationship to Health: Three Pillars what the doctor tells me.* Way of Life by David Servan-Schreiber
(1.2 million copies sold in 40 countries)
The Prosumer-driven notion that people have personal responsibility for their health changes the way we perceive and the multiple best sellers of health guru
ourselves and our world. Dr. Andrew Weil (e.g., Spontaneous Healing,
8 Weeks to Optimum Health).
Pillar 1: Pillar 2: Pillar 3:
Health in Relation to Self Health in Relation to Others Health in Relation to the
In recent years, Prosumers have gained
increasing control over their worlds,
The empowered health consumer is taking The empowered health consumer is more The empowered health consumer is
more responsibility for and exerting more cognizant of the impact his/her health more demanding of and less willing The Internet is a good source of thanks to portable technologies such as
control over his/her health and wellness. has on others in terms of social costs to accede to the control of healthcare information and support for people with smartphones and tablets, and to constant
Embracing anew the ancient notion of (e.g., burden on the healthcare system) professionals. He/she now seeks partners health problems.* improvement of the tools of research and
a link between mind and body, modern and also is aware of the impact the and advocates rather than voices of
consumers regard the brain as a vital health of others has on him/her (e.g., absolute authority. communication. They count on technology
weapon in the fight against illness. more taxes, higher insurance premiums). to organize their daily lives and expect to
Questions raised: exert equal control over issues pertaining
With control comes power. But is this new Questions raised:
power primarily a source of satisfaction
to health and wellness. As a consequence,
• What should I expect from
or angst? • If good health is a question of physicians? Drugs or advice on We are witnessing the rise of a subculture Prosumers are driving demand for
personal responsibility and discipline, behavioral modification? that is redefining the consumer relationship proactive health boosters ranging from
Questions raised: what is my obligation as an individual
and member of society in regard to
with health and wellness. alternative therapies to functional foods.
• What other sorts of practitioners/ In many cases, these activities are meant
• What if I’m not capable of living up those who don’t behave properly? Is it experts should I include on my
to expectations—my own or those the duty of the collective to support not just to ward off ailments but also
healthcare advisory team?
of others? its weakest members—or are we to negate the need to buy and consume
obliged to censure the unhealthy • What products and services will enable
• How much personal responsibility do I pharmaceuticals. “Natural healing” has
behaviors of others? me to be a more active and informed I am more apt to ask for a second
bear for a particular illness or disorder? become a hugely attractive concept for
What should I be doing differently? What
participant in my healthcare? opinion (medical) than I used to be.*
• Is there a greater role for communal people who already feel disconnected
is outside my control? care now that government and • How can I best apply my consumer from nature and who have little faith in
healthcare systems are falling short? smarts to my healthcare consumption?
• How can I not only protect my brain the medical industry’s laboratory-created
from the ravages of modern life but • With whom should I associate? Is solutions. As part of this more natural
also fortify it so it will, in turn, serve it better to spend time with those approach to healthcare, three-quarters
as my protector? who have the same health-oriented of Prosumers and 63 percent of their
lifestyle I do? To form bonds with
• How do I control my levels of stress those who are managing or simply mainstream counterparts say they try
and anxiety, which I know are bad for facing the potential for the same
I have some or a lot of control over to “listen” to their bodies more than they
my health but seem almost intrinsic to types of disease? We’re already seeing
illness in general.
used to—further evidence that people are
modern life? research that obesity spreads within
friendship circles; does this mean I
beginning to assume greater responsibility
need to consider health factors when for their own health.
choosing friends? Coworkers? *Euro RSCG Worldwide, The New Consumer (2010)—U.S. sample
6 Prosumer Report, Vol. 12 My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times 7
To understand respondents’ sense of their current levels of wellness, we asked the sample to “grade” five aspects of their lives, using
the standard U.S. report card system: A=excellent, B=good, C=average/acceptable, D=poor, F=fail.
Overall, respondents are satisfied with their physical For many, the effort to maintain a desirable body weight is Notions of physical health and weight management are well The modern notion of stress was virtually nonexistent
health. Nearly two-thirds of the total sample gave one of the most tangible aspects of physical health. In modern established in most countries. In comparison, in many countries until the late 1960s. It took another couple of decades for
themselves an A or B, while just 10 percent scored cultures, few people don’t have to make a conscious effort to mental health is a highly sensitive topic; people who admit to the notion to pass from the realm of psychology into the
themselves a D or F. There are key regional and perhaps keep the number on their bathroom scales under control. having problems risk stigma and loss of face. Consequently, it’s mainstream media and two more to become a standard
cultural differences at play: Latin Americans emerged as not surprising that the scorecard results for mental health were reference in everyday life. Mental-health practitioners point
by far the healthiest-feeling respondents, while those Respondents overall were less positive about their weight higher than for physical health. out that the crucial factor is not stressful events, but rather
in English-speaking countries were more apt to give management than about their physical health. Just slightly more how individuals respond to them—i.e., how they manage
themselves tepid marks. The United States, Australia, than half the global sample scored themselves high, while nearly Considering the severity of the global economic crisis, their stress.
and the United Kingdom scored themselves lowest of all. 1 in 5 scored themselves low. As with physical health, Latin respondents have a rather robust sense of their emotional
America was the most self-satisfied region, this time joined by health. Experts have seen signs of mental health problems, The scores for stress management were noticeably less
The Physical Health scorecard shows clearly that, India and China. including increased rates of suicide, associated with the positive than for mental health. France, the U.K., Ireland, and
whatever the objective reality, people in developing financial crisis in Europe and expect further signs to develop. Australia scored especially low.
countries tend to feel better about their physical The fact is that obesity is spreading around the globe, and
health than do those in developed countries. all populations are at risk. The scorecard responses are less a If the economic crisis continues and high unemployment As weight management is to physical health, so stress
reflection of waistlines in the countries in question and more an persists, there is a good probability that more people will management is to mental health; it’s a tangible aspect of
insight into the relative levels of complacency, guilt, and anxiety suffer from mental and emotional problems—perhaps even an abstract idea. People may not know how to evaluate
on the subject. “normalizing” these afflictions and putting them into the national their mental health, but they have a much keener sense of
conversation in markets where they are currently taboo. whether they are stressed and how they are managing it.
This aspect is arguably the point of most human activities, recognized by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle—with his
central concepts of eudaimonia (“happiness”) and eu zên (“living well”)—and the U.S. Declaration of Independence (“Life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness”), and cited in countless self-help books. Across the overall sample, two-thirds rated their sense of
happiness an A or B, while fewer than 1 in 10 scored it a D or F.
Happiness and well-being are complicated topics for self-assessment, given that individuals are likely to be strongly influenced
by the norms of their cultures. Some cultures pride themselves on their exuberance (especially Latin cultures), while others
regard themselves as no-frills phlegmatic (e.g., northern Europe) or even soulfully melancholic (e.g., Russia—not in the survey).
We know from our earlier New Consumer study that a slight majority in the surveyed markets (Brazil, China, France, Japan,
Netherlands, U.K., U.S.)—and nearly two-thirds of Prosumers—are actively trying to figure out what makes them happy. It is one
area in which consumers continue to attempt to better their “scores.”
8 Prosumer Report, Vol. 12 My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times 9
Sense of Control Changes Everything
“How people perceive health today is quite surprising: It is a mix of modernity
and archaism. Modernity because people see themselves as empowered to wield
control over their lives. Archaism because their belief in their control over even
genetics-based illnesses sounds like magical or mystical thinking.”
–Clement Boisseau, Strategic Planner,
BETC Euro RSCG
Feeling in control of key elements of life is When asked to rate how much they think it’s
fundamental to health and wellness. In Britain’s within their control whether they develop a
landmark Whitehall II study, for instance, clear links range of common conditions, respondents were
were found between well-being and levels of control given the following scoring options:
at work: “People in jobs characterized by low control 5=“I have a lot of control”; 4=“I have some
had higher rates of sickness absence, of mental control”; 3=“Don’t know”; 2=“Mostly outside
illness, of heart disease and pain in the lower back.” my control”; and 1=“Entirely outside my control.”
The report cites high stress and low control as In most instances, Prosumers outscored their
a predictor of ill health. mainstream counterparts, meaning they have
greater confidence in their ability to ward off
these diseases and disorders. They were
Throughout history, people have attempted to 10 points more likely to think they can, to some
exert control over disease and disaster by means of
extent at least, control whether they develop
everything from charms and tonics to pilgrimages
obesity or a sexually transmitted disease and
and human sacrifices. Now that ordinary citizens have
8 points more likely to think they can control
unprecedented access to healthcare information,
products, and services, they are being encouraged to
whether they develop diabetes, depression, or It’s worth noting that although the consensus of the medical
heart disease. community would be that individuals have little or no control over
take more responsibility for their health by following
official recommendations and guidelines—but do they whether they contract a number of specific diseases and disorders—
actually feel a greater sense of personal control? Or The disorders that respondents across the e.g., schizophrenia, blood cancer—significant minorities in our study
do they still believe themselves to be at the mercy of sample feel most able to control are obesity and believe otherwise. Remarkably, roughly as many respondents think
genetics and fate or luck? sexually transmitted disease, both of which 71 they have some measure of control over depression (53 percent) as
percent of respondents scored a 5 or 4. Even they do over diabetes (56 percent) or heart disease (52 percent). This
with these largely behavior-based conditions, latter finding would seem to suggest a fundamental misunderstanding
We know from our survey that a majority of though, 15 percent of respondents feel they of depression, or may be indicative of people lumping the “blues” with
respondents in each of the 19 markets rated their
have no control, suggesting that around 1 in 6 more serious, clinical forms of depression. The general perception of
overall “sense of control” in life an A or B (not
consumers may be dismissing not just their ability Alzheimer’s and other degenerative diseases as being totally outside
shown), ranging from a low of 56 percent in China
to influence whether they succumb to these one’s control suggests there is scope for further education regarding
and Hungary to a high of 79 percent in India, and
disorders but also their responsibility to do so. the benefits of regular exercise and mental stimulation as we age.
including 72 percent of Prosumers in the global
sample versus just 63 percent of the mainstream.
We then dug deeper in an effort to understand 52 percent of global respondents believe obesity is not a disease
people’s sense of their control over particular
ailments and diseases. but, rather, is caused by lack of willpower and self-control.
“Australian Prosumers believe their health is very much within their control if they take “Over the last decade, Argentina has seen increased interest in and awareness of what is
certain physical and dietary paths. They’ve obviously been getting the messages the necessary to achieve harmony between body and mind, including daily exercise and a
government has been pushing on topics such as obesity, STDs, diabetes, and heart disease. healthy diet. Both are essential to staying younger longer.”
It will be good for the health of the nation when the mainstream follow.”
–Ayelen Colombatto, Strategic Planning Director,
–Phil Johnston, Head of Planning, Euro RSCG Buenos Aires
Euro RSCG Australia
10 Prosumer Report, Vol. 12 My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times 11
The New Notion of Health Solidarity:
Factoring in Finance
In recent centuries, citizenries in most places have accepted the notion of “public
health.” We accept it when people with communicable diseases are quarantined to
avoid the further spread of disease. Most of us accept that childhood vaccinations
are necessary, not just to protect the individual but to reduce the incidence of
those diseases as a whole. As a society, we work together to avoid pandemics
and other communal health threats.
What is different now is that people are also beginning Going forward, we’ll see governments and businesses
to consider individual health actions as having an around the world devise all sorts of new ways to reduce the
effect on the community: If the people in the apartment burden of healthcare costs. Already, more than 8 in 10 U.S. The increasingly strong link between money
next to me smoke, I have to deal with the impact, which businesses with 50 or more employees offer some form of
may range from nuisance factors (e.g., cigarette smell health-promotion program.
and health means people are focusing not just
in fabrics) to more serious issues (e.g., health effects of on the physical impact of serious illness but
secondhand smoke). If I am obese, I, in turn, contribute to As healthcare increasingly is seen more as a communal also on the consequences it has for themselves,
the community’s expenses as a result of direct health costs matter than a personal one, societies will have to determine
their families, and communities.
(e.g., building more hospitals to cope with higher rates of how to encourage better health choices. Our study shows
diabetes) and also society’s need to retrofit for larger bodies. that a good portion of consumers are already prepared
to punish “transgressors”: 4 in 10 respondents believe
As these examples show, collective health concerns now companies should not be required to provide health
extend beyond whether we’re going to come in contact coverage to employees who smoke. We believe, however,
with a disease carrier. I don’t want my neighbor to engage that people will show more support for positive behavioral
in unhealthy behaviors not so much because I fear I’ll become modification than for punitive measures. Our intolerance for
sick, but because I fear I’ll have to help shoulder the resultant the weak (and weak-willed) likely will be tempered by the
financial burden. Imagine how such fears multiply when greater sense of solidarity that comes from seeing ourselves The ability to afford top-of-the-line care and
applied to hundreds or thousands of employees or to millions as part of an interconnected ecosystem of humankind. The
navigate the labyrinth that is the modern
of citizens. The CDC estimates that smoking-related idea that we, as individuals, have the ability to improve
health costs, including lost productivity, exceed $193 the overall health of this ecosystem through our personal healthcare system is an increasingly important
billion annually in the U.S. At the One Young World summit choices is empowering—and falls into line with our earlier demarcation between the “haves” and “have-nots.”
held this past fall in Zurich, television chef–turned-activist New Consumer research showing that people are hungering
Jamie Oliver noted that obesity costs the U.S. government for more personal responsibility and interconnectedness.
$10 million an hour. It doesn’t take too great a leap in logic
to consider what role escalating healthcare costs may be
having on the current national and global financial crises.
“During previous economic crises, health and social protections were considered sacrosanct. Now, “The new discourses on health augur the advent of a new kind of society: The idea of one big nation
financial insecurity has reached the point at which all solutions are on the table—magnifying fears that takes care of everyone is replaced by multiple communities of people who share the same risks,
that a personal or family health crisis could lead to financial ruin or that lack of health coverage will the same way of life, and the same mindset regarding what their personal responsibilities are in the
result in preventable death or long-term disability. For ourselves and for our countries, we are more realm of health.”
fearful of what the future holds.”
–Marianne Hurstel, Vice President, BETC Euro RSCG
–Tom Morton, Chief Strategy Officer, Global Chief Strategy Officer, Euro RSCG Worldwide
Euro RSCG New York
12 Prosumer Report, Vol. 12 My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times 13
Brains and Diet: Key Weapons in the
Fight for Good Health Powerful thoughts can help heal a person
A New Focus on Brain Health
The “Decade of the Brain” was officially designated by the U.S. Congress
in 1990, launching initiatives to deal with a huge range of issues, from
forgetfulness and hyperactivity to strokes, trauma, tumors, and dementia.
One consequence is that neuroscience has become a media darling, raising
public awareness of and interest in the brain.
Our brain functions as our body’s “control center,” so it’s no wonder we want to protect it. What we’re seeing develop goes
beyond basic care, however. We are seeing signs that consumers are paying more attention to the brain for three reasons:
1. The brain is arguably the body part most susceptible to the negative
impacts of modern life.
As we’ll see later in this section, the brain is considered vulnerable to many of the most
prevalent factors in 21st-century life, including stress and anxiety, environmental pollutants,
cell-phone technology, poor diet, and lack of sleep. With populations aging in many parts of
the world, there’s added impetus to do everything we can to stave off degenerative brain
disease and other brain-related effects of growing old.
2. A consensus is emerging that the brain—to be in top form—must be
the focus of ongoing care and attention.
Now that the field of neurology is more advanced, there’s greater hope that scientists can hit
on ways to fortify the brains of both young and old—safeguarding the brain from harm and
potentially making it even more powerful. Interest is growing in “brain training” techniques.
Recent studies have found that children who are taught that the brain is a muscle and
are encouraged to participate in activities intended to “bulk up” that muscle have seen
remarkable rises in their IQ scores. Where once the brain was considered largely “off limits” Agree
and intelligence fixed for life, now we are beginning to learn that our brains may function
best when we are proactive about their care, exercise, and feeding.
3. What we think plays a vital role in how we feel.
Arguably more surprising is that 4 in 10 respondents believe at least somewhat that most illness is psychosomatic—in other
words, that it’s all in our heads (not shown in chart). That’s pretty astonishing considering all the types of illnesses that befall us.
The notion of a link between mind and body goes back to ancient times, but modern For marketers, the important takeaway is that people believe the human brain is sufficiently powerful to both heal and cause
consumers are embracing it with renewed vigor. Nearly two-thirds of our survey sample illness. This may prove a vital pathway of communication for people seeking to play a more active role in their own health
agreed that powerful thoughts can help heal a person. management and that of their families or employees.
14 Prosumer Report, Vol. 12 My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times 15
Now that brain health is of general
interest, the question arises as to what
Good for the Brain
sorts of behaviors help and hurt this
most vital organ. What can we do 1.70 4.20 Of the 14 factors that netted out overall as good for
to make it stronger—and what must Recreational/ Exercise the brain, it’s striking that all except one are timeless
we avoid? To find out how people Illegal Drugs factors unrelated to technology. The only exception
think on this topic, we listed 30 was Online Social Networks, which netted out lowest of
behaviors and asked respondents to
score each one in terms of its effect
1.76 the “good” factors with a mean of 3.11 (not shown); this
compares with a much higher mean of 4.01 for its offline
on the physical brain: 5=“Definitely counterpart: Meeting People and Socializing in Person.
good”; 4=“Possibly good”; 3=“Neither
good nor bad”; 2=“Possibly bad”; and What’s more, technology and modern living have
1=“Definitely bad.” This section looks impinged on a number of “good for the brain” factors,
at the means (averages) for the total particularly the top-scoring Exercise (4.20) and Sleep
sample on each behavior; the more
the means are above the midpoint 3.0,
1.89 4.18 (4.19). While a Healthful Diet (4.17) and Slow Eating
(3.67) are clearly aspirations, the reality of modern
Air and Water Love
the better they are judged to be for Pollution life is, for many, processed convenience foods
the brain; the more they are below the eaten fast on the fly. In busy working lives with
midpoint 3.0, the more harmful they numerous claims on attention, there’s also a
were judged to be by respondents. squeeze on time for Playing (3.86) (not shown)
and Meeting People and Socializing in Person.
Identifying particular factors as good or
1.96 4.17 bad for the brain by no means implies we
will act accordingly. Rather, the factors are
Job Diet part of the cost-benefit trade-offs we make
in our consumption choices and will influence
Bad for the Brain whether we feel virtuous or guilty about
Technology is behind several of the factors
respondents rated as detrimental to brain
health. Television (2.95) and Computer Games
(2.93) are so close to the neutral 3.0 that they
don’t really count. However, there’s a more
Alcohol Reading Books
negative assessment of Cell Phones (2.63)
and especially of Living/Working Near a
Cell-Phone Tower (2.31) and Living/Working
Near High-Tension Power Lines (2.20).
The factors rated worst for the brain are
intoxicants (e.g., recreational drugs, tobacco)
and emotional factors (e.g., stressful job,
anxiety). Looking at the top seven negative
factors for brain health, we might characterize 2.05 4.00
them as a mix of environmental, corporeal, Low-Nutrition Sex
and emotional pollutants.
Modern life is creating new typologies of fear. How can
I protect myself and my family from things outside my
Chart shows mean scores for the 14 factors deemed best and worst for the brain out of all choices listed.
control—e.g., cell-phone waves? How do I reduce the feelings
1 2 3 4 5 of anxiety and stress that I know are bad for my body?
16 Prosumer Report, Vol. 12 My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times 17
Fortifying Body and Mind with Food
As we have come to feel we have more control
over our health—and, hence, more responsibility
for it—food has become an important weapon
in our health-maintenance arsenals. This means
we’re debating more and more the merits of
particular foods and beverages, and becoming
increasingly conscious of the state of our
individual and national diets.
Just as concepts and practices regarding healthcare are
becoming globalized, so is food culture, with important
implications for health. Around the world, the “Western”
diet is becoming more prevalent, which equates to the
consumption of more meat, more sugar, more calories, and
more processed food—and to a concomitant rise in heart
disease, obesity, diabetes, and other ailments.
Over the course of the 20th century, increased use
of artificial flavors, preservatives, additives, and food
processing meant our bodies were being enriched less by
91 percent of Prosumers vs. 77 percent of the mainstream believe eating
the land than by production plants. In the 21st century, we
a healthful diet has a positive impact on the brain.
are seeing a countermarch, as people seek to reconnect
with the natural world and begin to recognize the link
between the consumption of natural, whole foods and good
health. Around two-thirds of our respondents indicated they
are much more aware today of the nutritional/health value
of the foods they eat than they used to be.
Even more notable is the extent to which food is being
perceived as having medicinal properties. Nearly 8 in 10
Prosumers and two-thirds of mainstream consumers
actually believe food is as effective as medicine in
maintaining one’s overall health. This likely reflects the
recent focus on nutraceuticals and so-called “superfoods,”
but it is also tied to a greater understanding of the role of
food in our lives. As evidenced by the growing popularity
of the Slow Food movement, more of us are coming to
understand that the way we nourish our bodies—what we
eat, how it is prepared, and where, how, and with whom we
eat—has important implications for not just our physical
but also our emotional and spiritual well-being.
18 Prosumer Report, Vol. 12 My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times 19
Concerns over Food Safety
Given consumers’ heightened awareness of the health and wellness
implications of what they eat and drink, it’s of concern that only
37 percent trust the food industry to provide them with healthful
food. In general, it is the more developed markets that express the
least confidence in the food industry, suggesting some level of
suspicion regarding Big Food.
“In recent years, the people of Colombia have been looking for different alternatives related to
health and wellness—more contact with the countryside, healthy food, healthy life, etc., as well
as more time to enjoy the company of others (family and friends).”
It’s entirely plausible that consumers’ lack of trust in the food industry is tied to the food scares of
recent decades. It seems as though just about every month there’s a new warning issued to avoid a
particular food because of one food-borne threat or another. The CDC’s newest estimates indicate –Giovanni Acuna, Planning Director,
that contaminated foods cause almost 48 million illnesses, more than 125,000 hospitalizations, Euro RSCG Colombia
and more than 3,000 deaths each year in the U.S. alone. It’s little wonder, then, that 7 in 10 global
respondents express concern over food safety.
Adding to fears are concerns over the additives found in so many packaged foods. In the survey, a
majority (59 percent) agreed with the statement, “I worry about the impact the artificial ingredients
and coloring agents I eat and drink are having on my health,” while only 13 percent disagreed (chart
not shown). The higher levels of agreement than disagreement in every market tell us that concern
about additives is the norm.
Concerned about food safety
% moderately to extremely worried
87 85 81 81 76 75 74 71 70 70
South Africa Poland China Colombia Hungary India Mexico Brazil Argentina GLOBAL
69 68 66 66 66 65 62 52 51 46
Czech Republic Germany Canada U.S. France Australia Belgium U.K. Ireland Netherlands
20 Prosumer Report, Vol. 12 My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times 21
A Need for Clarity
Our findings illustrate the confusion around health and food. Very
few people have the knowledge and skills to evaluate which foods
are beneficial—especially given all the conflicting information
being disseminated (“Eggs are bad—no, wait, they’re good!”).
And even those who pay attention to companies and brands have
trouble keeping track of who produces what. Turning East for Holistic Healing
Just as Eastern cultures have adopted
conventional Western medicine in recent
To simplify decision making, people apply general decades, the developed markets of the
rules that make sense to them. One typical West have embraced Eastern philosophies
example is that “natural is good,” even though and ancient remedies. Eastern cultures’
molds, infections, and infestations are natural and more holistic approaches to medicine
clearly not always good. Similarly, the suspicion bring all aspects of a person’s life into a
that additives are not good is widespread, even single picture of his or her health and take
though many foods could not be eaten in developed for granted that everything a person does
countries without additives to preserve them and (from eating to sleeping and breathing) has
prevent spoilage during transport. an impact on how that person feels and
heals. As citizens in modern societies seek
to live longer and healthier lives, they are
drawing wisdom from the ancient cultures
of China and India in particular to change
With 37 percent of our survey respondents their behaviors and influence their health.
trusting the food industry and 33 percent not
trusting it, that leaves almost as many consumers This shift is having a marked impact on
(30 percent) uncertain as to whether to have faith consumption, including significant increases
in their food suppliers—suggesting plenty of scope in sales of homeopathic and herbal
for information, outreach, and building trust through remedies. We can expect to see a continued
consistent quality and transparency. melding of traditional and conventional
approaches to healthcare, especially as
more Western medical schools incorporate
complementary and alternative medicine
into their curricula.
“Among Chinese, older generations (41–66) place importance on food for good health compared “Our new relationship with health changes how we see the future. How are we imagining what’s next for
with the younger generation (18–30) and worry about food safety more so than do the other age health? Is it a question of scientific advances or a reconnection to nature? Should we be moving forward
groups.” with nanotechnology and the like or attempting to revert to the simpler lifestyles our forebears enjoyed?”
–Simone Zhang, Strategic Planning Director, –Marian Salzman, CEO,
Euro RSCG Shanghai Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, North America
22 Prosumer Report, Vol. 12 My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times 23
In this new climate, we must ask ourselves: How do we communicate with
consumers? How can brands help their customers live better and at the same
time protect themselves against the negative consequences of modern life?
Given our increased focus on brain health, consumers will be looking for products and services
that stave off the mental effects of aging, including supplements, devices, and activities
(e.g., targeted exercise, Sudoku, adult learning). Over the next decade, we can expect to see
An Opening for Brand Partners to the emergence of a category of “n” (neurological) products, including nBoosters, nHancers,
nUtrients, and nGames. We are at the very beginning of the brain’s movement from something
Serve as Health Advocates mysterious and sacred (impossible to explore) to a body part that must be exercised and
cared for just as we do our heart and other organs. There will be a much greater focus on the
continued care and feeding of our brains, especially given the widespread acceptance that the
As consumers—and Prosumers especially—seek to wield greater control over their health, they are physical health of our bodies is intrinsically linked to the powers and health of our minds.
increasingly looking for tools that will help them keep their wellness goals on track. Brands in a number
of categories are offering an assist.
A few examples: Selling Certainty
Reebok’s “The Promise Keeper” app allows the user to share when he/she goes for a run and automatically
posts or tweets when the person fails to exercise. The app was designed to create brand engagement and A lack of consumer trust in product categories related to health and wellness—including
promote the ZigTech running shoe. food and beverages, pharmaceuticals, and insurance—offers great opportunity for businesses
that operate on a model of transparency. As consumers begin to accept more responsibility
Unilever, Tesco, and other food and beverage companies are providing financial support to the U.K. for their health, they are looking for brand partners that promote their progress.
Department of Health’s Change4Life program, which offers consumers tips and information on ways to
“eat well, move more, live longer.” There’s particular opportunity for brands in the telephony sector. Government studies
continue to deny any harmful effects of mobile phones and cell towers, but today’s more
Apple’s Design + Health kit is intended to help designers exercise, keep proper ergonomic posture at the skeptical consumers recognize that government also has been slow to confirm now widely
keyboard, and eat right. The kit includes a set of weighted mugs (for lifting), sticky notes with health “nudges” recognized health hazards such as smoking. Brands in this and related categories must
printed on them, an exercise guide, and more. assuage consumer concerns, not just through information (which can be dismissed) but
through product designs that offer a sense of protectedness and peace of mind. Transparency
In France, insurance company Swiss Life launched an online health dashboard that permits consumers to and a more humanized approach are all-important.
evaluate their allergy levels and receive alerts about local air pollution. They can also program in medical
appointments, set alarms as reminders to take their medicines, and read articles and an RSS feed on health.
“The rise of ‘lifestyle’ diseases has created an urgent need to help people improve their health by changing
how they live. Change is not easy, and more resources need to be put against giving people the support
and simple tools they need to make lasting modifications. Creating communities centered on a culture of
positive change can help make a healthier population a reality. Mutual support within these communities
can empower people practically and emotionally in their efforts to live a better, longer life.”
–Kate Gill, Managing Director of Integrated Strategy and Planning,
Euro RSCG Tonic
24 Prosumer Report, Vol. 12 My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times 25
Back to the Future?
We find ourselves at an interesting crossroads in regard to health. Forces are pushing
us simultaneously toward the future (higher-tech solutions, genome exploration,
implantable nanotechnology) and toward the past (wholesome lifestyles as the
cure for all that ails us). Are the advances we’re making in personal electronics,
“Every patient carries her or his own doctor inside.”
communications, and automation ruining our quality of life? Is our increasing
separation from the natural world robbing us of the true fruits of human –Albert Schweitzer
existence on planet Earth? Is there a line we need to draw on “progress”—and,
if so, have we already crossed it? Or are we truly creating a better world?
There are some who believe we will eventually morph into the next evolution of
humankind—becoming smarter, stronger, and more psychologically powerful. The
question is whether this “posthuman” society is something to which we should aspire
or from which we should run.
These next few decades will show us what price we’re willing to pay—with our
bodies, with our cultures, with our social communities—for the modern conveniences
and breakthroughs that are so much the focus of our efforts and interest today.
“What is happening today with health echoes what happened over the last 10 years with the environment.
Consumers finally understood that the dramatic expansion of our global population and our limited
natural resources mean we have to invent new solutions and change our behavior if our species is to
survive. Once they realized governments couldn’t—or wouldn’t—do it alone, people stepped up and
began taking responsibility.”
–Naomi Troni, Global Chief Marketing Officer,
Euro RSCG Worldwide
26 Prosumer Report, Vol. 12 My Body, Myself, Our Problem: Health and Wellness in Modern Times 27