Gregory Miller, captain of the BAM Think Tank Health & Wellbeing, wants more than ever to help brands in his favourite segment strengthen their brand promises this year. To this end, he drew inspiration from Mark Schaefer, author of marketing bestsellers such as 'Marketing Rebellion', 'Known' and 'Belonging to the Brand', at the BAM Marketing Congress in December last year.

Purpose-Driven Marketing

Gregory Miller has almost 30 years of marketing experience in the pharmaceutical sector to his credit. Since 2022, he has led BAM's Think Tank: Health & Wellbeing. From his mission to translate the theme of health into the universal marketing world, he looked at marketing expert Mark Schaefer's keynote with coloured glasses. He then put these insights into practice and this specifically for Health & Wellbeing brands. 

2/3 of your marketing is done by the consumer

Schaefer begins his keynote by kicking in an open door, namely that times have changed. 'Who remembers the marketing era with brands spreading their brand promise and consumers believing it? 2/3 of your marketing today is done by someone other than the marketer and it is mainly the customer who has become a marketer," Schaefer said. "Those times are indeed over," Gregory answers Schaefer's rhetorical question. "The previous generation of marketers created distrust among consumers by exaggerating the benefits of their brands and minimising the weaknesses. By bombarding consumers with the same boring promotional campaigns. By offering discounts on products with overpriced and shrinking quantities, ... We live in an era where consumers are no longer fooled. It is the consumer who has become our best or worst marketer."

Presence, reputation and expertise, the ingredients for becoming a 'known brand'

Schaefer argues that the key to growing into a so-called 'known brand' are these three things, with the marketer in the role of storyteller. "But," Gregory says, "storytelling can be done by a charlatan or by a person of integrity. If you want to be a charlatan, you put yourself in an impossible position, as consumers won't be fooled anymore. Moreover, you will face competition from AI, from deepfakes, ... You have to want to be that other marketer, the marketer who does his job in an ethical and meaningful way and who sees happy consumers as his end goal."

The most human company wins!

Marketers' storytelling must be authentic, interesting and relevant. Only then can you become a human and honest brand for consumers. "The most human company wins!" says Schaefer in his book 'Marketing Rebellion'. He cites The North Face's film 'Free Solo' as a great example of this approach. "That campaign by The North Face added that sense of 'belonging' to the brand universe," Gregory explains. "This is key to creating an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand, which we know is the trigger for purchase." 

But what made this approach to The North Face so great? Schaefer sums it up in three bullet points: the consumer is the hero, the consumer is the marketer and the brand or company helped people to belong. "We must not fall into the trap of social media strategies where people follow a brand from a distance," Gregory adds. "This is about the ultimate connection, that of a community with strong shared values, connectedness, a willingness to interact and even take action for a 'cause'. Other examples include Lego's 'Adult fans of Lego' community, Boss Mom, Harley-Davidson's online platform and app, ..."

And how do you do that in practice?

So how do you apply these insights to the Health & Wellbeing sector? That was the question Gregory Miller asked himself in the wings of the BAM Marketing Congress. First, he addressed Schaefer's 'known brand' issue. For the 'presence' part, Gregory said brands in this segment need to ask themselves the following questions: What is the health claim your brand wants to convey to the world? What domain do you want to claim? Where do you want to be present?

In the 'expertise' aspect, he looks mainly at credibility. Here are the related questions: Which experts do you work with to spread your health claims? Who are your key opinion leaders and why should consumers listen to them and believe what they say about your brand? 

For interesting content, Gregory gives these tips to brands: "Start with a value proposition that combines efficacy, tolerance, safety and convenience benefits. Then you need to target that content to the consumer's three 'h's: head, heart and hands. Today's consumers expect our brands to have a positive impact on the environment, society and sustainability." 

For relevance, Gregory looks to consumers' "me-centricity", an emerging trend among marketers. "It's all about the consumer," Gregory argues. "Making your brand relevant in this context is done by looking at the consumer's health condition through a medical lens and personalising the solution and treatment according to the consumer. 

Finally, he wonders how a brand in his segment creates the ultimate connection with the consumer. Is a Health & Wellbeing brand strong enough to achieve that connection?

"Brands and companies that heal people, make them feel healthy and well and relieve them of pain and problems, create a very strong connection with people," Gregory affirms. "Just think of how collective disasters and traumas like 9/11 and, more recently, the covid pandemic created connection between complete strangers and brands. Who knew Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Janssen Pharmaceutica before the pandemic? We all became vaccine experts and had strong feelings, both positive and negative, about these brands. Another example is Ozempic which is now top of mind among a lot of consumers. And look at Prozac, Viagra, Zyrtec and other health-related brands! As a marketer who worked on those brands, I know that the emotional connection with those brands was very strong... Those who manage to create an emotional connection with consumers in tragic situations like an illness or accident, in addition to a community, have the wind in their sails. Our think tank is already ready to take brands' health claims to the next level."


The BAM Marketing Congress is your annual meet-up with professionals passionate about marketing.