MINDSET

Michael Fishman shares trends in the wellness space

By Lashaun Dale

His might not be a household name, but Michael Fishman has quietly built a reputation as the marketing mastermind behind some of the hottest brands—and some of the longest-lived ones—in health and wellness. From Bulletproof to Vital Choice to Rodale, Fishman is helping the founders of these companies grow and evolve their business and better understand their customer, either through the annual Consumer Health Summit or smaller Think Tank Sessions throughout the year.

Fishman has been on the front lines of major health trends over the last two decades, creating a huge network of companies that now reach more than 10 million Americans, with many of these companies now collaborating with each other to deliver better products, services and support for those seeking a healthier lifestyle.

“Really, what everybody [I work with] shares is a common purpose to help the world be a better, healthier, more effective, happier place,” says Fishman, regardless of the participants’ approach. Fishman himself espouses no specific health philosophy, working with a wide range of clients from Dr. Joel Kahn, the vegan cardiologist, to Paleo entrepreneurs such as Dave Asprey and John Durant, who champion animal-based nutrition.

What he says ties this diverse network of companies that he works with together is their commitment to ethical marketing, consumer transparency, great customer service, and only offering products and services that are helpful to people. Over the last two decades, he has seen the explosion of information on the web transform the health space—for better and worse—and he says he’s determined to make sure his clients are connecting consumers with reliable information, whether they are a medical professional, consumer product or health publication.

“Consumers will choose the messenger or the information source that they feel best about,” Fishman says. “As long as people are reaching for support and are getting it from a responsible source, we feel good about that.”

On getting your health advice online

The biggest challenge today is the sheer enormity of health advice out there, Fishman says. For most connected consumers interested in health, it’s like drinking from a firehose. “There’s so much coming at you and it’s hard to just take a sip,” he says.

You not only have to sort through a huge amount of information and find sources you trust— organizations, magazines or personalities—but then you also have to narrow those down to the ones that have a program or methods you can actually stick to.

Fishman says that conversely, one of the most beautiful changes in the industry has been the online community building that has evolved, with doctors, fitness coaches and other individuals telling their personal stories, talking about what they’ve gone through in very vulnerable and specific terms, to help inform or inspire people, as well as sell products or services.

“You can get a good sense of—especially if you compare site to site—who’s really coming from the heart. Who has a good product and who really cares,” Fishman says. You can really see who is committed to the customer by looking at who offers product guarantees, visible customer service numbers, and/or live chat support to resolve questions or issues, he adds.

It’s important, Fishman says, to know who’s delivering the information you’re looking at because some health advice sites may not be transparent about the fact that they’re backed by a large company.

On motivating people to live a healthier lifestyle

Many people take that first step to a healthier lifestyle by buying a diet book or supplement or joining a gym, but then they fail to actually use it. Success, Fishman says, isn’t about working on motivation but rather incentivizing little steps that improve someone’s health.

Motivation only really kicks in after people take action and feel like they have been successful.

“So it’s really just encouraging people to take a baby step from what they already know,” Fishman says. That could be as simple as starting with a walk around the block once a day, or a 30-minute visit to the gym once a week, or even instituting a ban on cookies in your house. After that change has become a habit, he says, people are usually motivated to make other small changes.

“The best thing to do,” Fishman says, “is something that you’ll actually do.”

On connecting with those who need help

One thing successful health brands know that their rivals don’t is how to put people at ease so they’re more likely to listen to advice. That involves using photographs of real people on websites rather than stock photography, and not using words that are too clinical or scientific to explain things.

“When people don’t understand words, they don’t blame you,” Fishman says. “They blame themselves.”

It’s just a natural practice of human beings, he says, to gather evidence throughout their day that supports these feelings of inadequacy. To keep brands from triggering a negative response, Fishman coaches them to use untouched client photographs and real conversational language so people feel empowered, not stupid.

If anyone’s in a position to call the next big thing in health, it’s Fishman. His work in driving some of the biggest health brands to the top of their niche has given him lots of insight into what consumers are interested in.

Perhaps the most useful emerging trend, he says, is the individualization or personalization of health products and services, particularly those for the gut microbiome. Not everyone has the same strains of bacteria in their digestive system, so not everyone should follow the same diet.

“Based on [your gut], what kinds of foods are best for you and what kinds of foods are best for me?” Broccoli might be a boon for one person and an irritant to another, he says.

Moreover, Fishman says he is expecting big things from the study of epigenetics, or how food and other aspects of your environment from sleep to exercise can switch genes off and on in your body, influencing disease.

“Everything is really moving toward looking at the individual and what his or her genes are saying and what his or her digestive system is saying,” Fishman says, “and really personalizing approaches to either maintaining health or reversing some conditions.”

Video credit: gonin, Adobe Stock
Photo credits: Michael Fishman; Rawpixel, Thinkstock; Sidekick, Thinkstock; kzenon, Thinkstock

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Author

Lashaun Dale

Lashaun Dale loves yoga and fitness and finds magic in movement, music and mobs of people. She holds degrees in International Relations, Philosophy and Applied Anthropology, as well as an MPH from the School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York. With two decades of group fitness programming experience, Dale currently serves as vice president of content & programming for 24 Hour Fitness and editor-in-chief of 24Life magazine. A regular contributor to SELF and Women’s Health and Fitness, as well as popular blogs and podcasts, she’ll teach yoga anytime she is given an opportunity to get her om on.

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