Wellness has become an increasingly important factor in brand and business strategy in the wake of COVID-19, but, beyond safety and hygiene, brands have struggled to define their role. Contributing to customers’ wellbeing by preventing conflict and compromise may be the key to unlocking this opportunity. Research has indicated that when people perceive conflicting goals, such buying nice things vs. the impact of consumption, they feel more stressed. In contrast, when people’s values are a driving force in their lives, they feel better, less anxious and less conflicted.

Progressive retail brands are helping people act on their values. They’re bringing consumption in line with customers’ desire for conservation. They’re also blending physical and digital environments seamlessly, appealing to young people whose identities are equally anchored in both. In doing so, brands are helping customers be true to themselves, and so building trust and stickiness.

Anyone who cares about protecting the natural world, or values the social experience of shopping, will find sustenance at the Comvita Wellness Lab in Auckland. The makers of Manuka Honey have repurposed their retail store to create a sticky tasting experience, hosted by a beekeeper and breeder, which engages all the senses in a 180-degree theatre. The ticket price for tastings goes back into creating sustainable honey. A complementary online experience is an immersive journey through New Zealand’s ancient forests to explore and learn about working in harmony with nature.

Fashion brand Entireworld has captivated Gen Z with a digital experience that blends in aspects of the physical world, with the reassuring ambient sounds of a lawn being mowed, or dogs barking contentedly in the park. An antidote to click frenzy and scrolling induced tendonitis, this builds moments of calm and reflection into the shopping experience. It complements the brand’s thoughtful, holistic worldview that’s democratic, optimistic and interconnected. It’s sustainable to the core, while being fundamentally design-driven. No compromise necessary.

Reconciling fashion with humane and sustainable practices, Country Road’s global supplier map links to information on the factory and site of each supplier. At a time when shopping local has become important to more people, scientifically Verified Australian cotton and wool products support sustainable farming practices. Along with dedication to people and the environment, this is gradually building a story of care and responsibility, which will stand the test of time. It pulls a whole range of business levers, not just ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) but also core brand drivers like quality and craftsmanship.

Talking trash with circular design, Nike’s DBreak shoes from late 2020 made headlines such as, ‘These sneakers are garbage. Literally.’ They’re made from rubbish, with recycled plastic bottles formed into polyester canvas and ground-up foam and rubber production scraps used for soles. Part of Nike’s Move to Zero sustainability journey, product innovation is complemented by educational videos and an online workbook on the future of circular design.

It’s not just a matter of aligning to world-changing principles. Brands can contribute to people’s wellbeing by helping them do more of what they love and be better at things they struggled with. Even though 70% of people value financial security, only 47% feel good at managing their money, research from GWI indicates. When it comes to controlling their finances, Up makes people feel like they’ve got this. Up’s customers can create and customise multiple Savers linked to their goals, be it their birthday fund, surf trip or whatever it is they care about. The 2Up product enables tag-team budgeting with a friend or partner.  Rather than imposing arcane banking products on indifferent users, Up turns the sector upside down, giving ‘customer driven’ real meaning.

A cornerstone of success for modern retail brands is genuinely helping customers act on their values and goals across all aspects of daily life, so they feel like themselves at their best. This is a way for a brand in just about any sector to promote customers’ wellness in a way that will remain relevant far beyond COVID-19.

This article first appeared on Inside Retail.