The rapid rise of the expert culture
Author: Sarah Greenidge, Founder of WellSpoken
Date of preparation: October 2017
The rapid rise of the wellness expert has been the latest shift in the wellness market. Post an onslaught of bad press and media speculation, we as the consumer have swiftly moved away from looking to the celebrity ‘fitspo’ influencers for advice on our wellbeing.
In an attempt to search for credible advisors, we have rested our laurels in those who seemingly have relevant degrees or qualifications in the areas we are interested in – all in an attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff.
The challenge we face as a wellness community is that qualifications do not necessarily translate into credibility – these two things are not equivalent. We have to acknowledge that certain qualifications can hold different weightings especially in areas such as nutrition where there are multiple associations accrediting different things.
Having an in-depth knowledge in a subject area does build a certain element of credibility, but learning how to communicate credibly to different audiences, across various platforms, understanding all of the different nuances and power of language – is an art form in itself.
Here at WellSpoken, we believe that credible wellness communications fall under three pillars:
- What you say: All claims and advice need to be substantiated by robust scientific evidence or credible sources of health and wellness information
- How you say it: The language we use to convey information about wellness needs to take into account the impact certain messages can have on consumers
- Where you say it: The medium used by brands choose to communicate wellness messages (e.g. social media, ambassadors, blogs) need to be credible channels of communication
We believe that qualifications in themselves are not robust enough substantiation for producing consumer content.
Wellness experts can still share or give advice which is out of their remit. This is a challenging concept but one that firmly needs to be addressed.
Just because someone is a qualified doctor, does not mean they are best placed to speak on all things nutrition – even doctors will admit the mandatory medical training on this subject during their degree is limited. In the same instance, a nutritionist sharing workout tips is out of remit if they are not qualified PTs.
However, the consumer shift to seeking expertise rather than just following popular influencers is a good sign. It means as an industry, we are starting to realise the dangers of misinformation and are actively trying to change the way we communicate.
We at WellSpoken are calling for industry-wide recognition that credible wellness content matters and that qualifications alone do not automatically result in reliable communications.