Yesterday's reaction to World Health Day felt particularly poignant after a year where the importance of our health has been at the forefront of our minds

Some brands are taking the opportunity to celebrate how far we’ve come. Facebook has unveiled a partnership with the World Health Organisation and UNICEF for a worldwide campaign raising awareness of credible facts about coronavirus, using a series of celebratory vaccination stickers within Instagram to direct users to the Coronavirus Information Centre.

Nevertheless, health is much more than our physical health. Our mental wellbeing has also been pulled into stark focus this year, as has the emotional labour provided by parents, carers, grandparents and partners as we have tried to navigate a new reality of life turned upside down. The health of the planet too, as the pause of the normal hustle and bustle created a breathing space for our environment to flourish.

With focus from this year’s World Health Day including mental health, maternal, childcare and climate change, we’re increasingly seeing brands bed in initiatives around each of these themes will little fanfare or expectation of praise from consumers.

Over the course of the pandemic in particular, we saw brands respond to emerging consumers' needs seamlessly. In response to the government directive about handwashing, independent British skincare brand, Medik8, included a free hand cream at no extra cost in all orders.

And it’s not just about paying lip-service externally either – the same brand included clear information about how orders would be slowed as a result of prioritising staff health. This readjustment of consumer expectations for a new normal is something we will continue to see post-pandemic. It’s not about exceeding existing expectations; it’s about creating new ones entirely.

Other brands are not only creating new expectations but driving new business models to accommodate them. Conscious consumption, with the planet in mind, has even reached the high-street, with brands such as H&M investing in clothes recycling points in-store to encourage sustainable consumption. More recently, a third of the UK’s biggest companies – from Sainsbury’s to Unilever – made public commitments to being net zero by 2050.

Whilst World Health Day is an opportunity to pause and reflect on the year that has been, it – like other days – is less a moment for acknowledgement and more a moment to reflect and reset on a longer journey to a better tomorrow.

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