Over the last decade, we have witnessed a surge in cases of ailments that have a direct link to behaviour and habits. These ailments include non-communicable diseases, which are directly related to what one eats and physical exercise as well as one’s mental health.
There has been some intervention by the government through the universal healthcare initiative, which is overseeing the upgrading and equipping of public hospitals. Of more importance, however, is the need to place additional emphases on educating the public on healthy habits.
The government could play their role in this, but research has shown that there is a lot of mistrust in government-led initiatives and people will tend to listen and gravitate towards listening to entities that live with them and show an interest in their daily living, this is where brands come in.
People interact on a daily basis with brands, this interaction has been amplified by the growing number of communication channels creating a unique opportunity for brands to apply their influence.
This influence is defined by the culture of the brand and it is up to them to positively apply it. Brands can utilise social media, e-mail, video and blog content to shape and define lifestyle choices.
The corporate sector today is continually embarking on what is termed as ‘wellness revolution’ in their offices and in the public.
This due to the realisation that when members of the health promotion community discuss the future of health, they tend to neglect a major seminal trend in modern societies — the increasing privatisation of health promotion.
Brands having a sustainable living purpose is not a new idea.
Many brands have come up with concepts and initiatives that aim to change people’s behaviour. For instance, a leading international manufacturer has since 1880s leveraged its cleaning product to drive the adoption of a handwashing culture by opening handwashing centres in schools and cities. Cleanliness deters a disease and impacts directly on its spread.
In another case, a leading advertising company, teamed up with a start-up in London to bring attention to the capital’s air pollution problem, by installing a dual filter system inside the station’s advertising stands in a bid to create clean pockets of air.
The filtration system is able to remove up to 95 percent of traffic fumes and residual airborne pollutants.
Locally, we have also seen corporates boldly coming into this space by encouraging healthy habits and activities. They are now involved in curriculum formulation and initiatives like oral health campaigns.
This said much more can be done to create sustainable solutions that are mutually beneficial to companies and their clientele.
Brands can also use their goodwill to impact on society through simple adjustments to their communication to foster healthy living by incorporating simple cause-driven campaigns that have wellness cues or by adding their voices to observances.
Corporates through their brands could play a major role in protecting the health of their customers, after all, they operate and survive because of people.
The writer is a communication consultant.