Why Care about Self-Care?

Subjectively, self-care is one of the biggest cross category and business disrupters today. Yet it is not new, it is a timeless human need. People have always found ways to look after themselves. Roman Emperors would take some time away in Capri to recharge before the next set of games, herbal remedies and cures have been passed down from generation to generation and Turkish Hammams have stood the test of time for those seeking to cleanse their body.

However over the past decade the meaning and execution of self-care has been evolving rapidly. It has expanded beyond just Health and Beauty into other areas such as sleep mental health, fitness and nutrition. Think of how eve has made sleep the key to unlocking your potential- “time to be a morning person” or how Peloton  is bringing “studio quality classes into your home”.  Even in traditional categories like personal care, brands like lady suite are providing vaginal care solutions once the preserve of pharma companies and making them relevant and motivating to use.

The definition is broad meaning that self-care can permeate all categories.

“Anything that makes you feel good, usually a means of self-care. That can include getting enough sleep, taking the time to exercise or getting proper nutrition.”

Patricia Normand, psychiatrist and director of integrated health and wellness, Rush University Medical Center

It now represents a huge opportunity across all consumer segments with one example being 50% of 23-35 year old women making self-care their New Year’s Resolution in 2018*

*Source: Shine Survey- USA.

It’s a powerful space as people who increasingly look for purpose in a secularising world turn to looking after themselves first. This manifests itself in little ways, through daily habits and rituals, to looking after holistic wellbeing (mental and physical) up to the feel good boost that comes from the act of and being prepared to take on the uncertain world we live in today. Through self-care people are finding their own context and meaning.

So how can companies and brands navigate this space and create propositions and products that fit with what consumers are looking for?

Firstly they must understand the dimensions of self-care. Care is a naturally emotional territory and at Butterfly we pride ourselves on understanding and making sense of people their feelings. Through our work across a number of different categories we have identified a spectrum of self-care based on a scale from Reactive to Proactive, each with core benefits to be addressed and delivered.

It’s not as simple as understanding them. There are barriers to delivering products and experiences that consumers will keep coming back to and forming rituals and relationships with. The first is barrier is time. There are so many things and distractions that people could do, how do you create enough value or find a specific daypart for your brand to fit with or own? The second barrier is permissibility. Self-Care focuses on the individual, how can you create the permission for people to focus on themselves. To do so requires providing a motivating benefit and enabling them to achieve their goals via something that may seem simplistic but has great power.

How can your brand unlock the potential within self-care? Is it through democratising an underserved area? Is it about becoming a facilitator that helps people achieve their bigger picture? Or could it be about helping them find a moment of peace and reflection in a chaotic world like Headspace?

Whatever the case, navigating the self-care space and disrupting existing categories through its lens represents a significant opportunity for brands.

At Butterfly, we like to think that the words that define us best are “Daring Intelligence, and Contagious Creativity”. We use our Huddle online community as an auto-ethnography tool to enable consumers to record their experiences in the moment to help us capture what is really going on so we can ground our innovation in consumer insight. We also have a testing tool for quick, cheap consumer reactions to concepts.


Brian Hackett