The Difference Between Health and Wellness (and how each industry needs to approach marketing differently)

It’s not uncommon for healthcare and wellness brands to get placed into the same category. So what exactly is the difference between health and wellness? On the surface, these two large industries appear the same. After all, they both sell products and services that are designed to improve an individual’s health and well-being. 

But there are major differences between healthcare companies and wellness brands—and how these companies approach marketing. 

The wellness industry alone is one of the fastest-growing sectors. In 2021, the global wellness industry was valued at over $4.5 trillion, according to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI). This figure includes various sectors such as fitness and mind-body, wellness tourism, healthy eating and nutrition, beauty and anti-aging, preventive and personalized medicine, wellness real estate, and spa industries, among others. The wellness industry has continued to experience steady growth over the years as individuals become more conscious of their physical and mental well-being.

So, what’s the difference between these two large industries, and is it time to redefine how we approach wellness marketing?

What is Health? How Do We Define the Healthcare Industry?

Health is often defined as a state of physical and mental well-being. The healthcare industry is focused on improving a patient’s outcome rather than their overall wellness. It’s most often linked to the treatment of chronic and acute diseases.

Healthcare consumers often engage with companies when they need to solve a problem they are experiencing. It can include both proactive and reactive services like:

  • Chiropractors
  • Physiotherapists
  • Dentists and orthodontists
  • Hospitals and doctors offices
  • Laboratory and diagnostic care

This industry covers everything from R&D of pharmaceutical drugs to individual services that a patient receives. And like the wellness segment, it continues to grow as new technologies are researched, developed, and marketed to the global healthcare community.

Today, the global healthcare market is worth an estimated $7.724 trillion.

While there is a substantial overlap between healthcare and wellness companies, there are notable differences between these two large segments.

What is Wellness? How Do We Define the Wellness Industry?

Wellness isn’t a new topic by any means. The industry has existed for decades, but modern wellness brands have realized that they need personalized wellness marketing that understands what makes wellness a unique segment.

Wellness is a healthcare approach that is heavily rooted in the idea of creating a healthy lifestyle. This can include pursuing healthy initiatives like nutrition, yoga, and even eco-friendliness.

Wellness companies can include the following:

  • Non-toxic beauty products
  • Yoga and meditation (related to mindfulness).
  • Organic food
  • Sustainable products
  • Educational services that promote wellness

Unlike healthcare, which aims to treat, wellness is more preventative in nature and aims to create a healthy lifestyle. You should think of it as a holistic approach to healthcare that focuses on an individual’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.

Wellness can be divided into six distinct categories. These categories include:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Occupational
  • Spiritual
  • Social
  • Environmental
  • Intellectual

While healthcare is more rooted in treatment and health, wellness brands don’t have to focus specifically on health. An eco-friendly clothing company that uses plant fibers can classify themselves as a wellness brand because they are prioritizing social and environmental aspects of the wellness industry. Wellness brands can exist outside of the healthcare industry solely on the core values that make up their business.

The entire goal of the wellness industry is to understand the relationship between these categories and how they can allow an individual to live a healthy and fulfilled lifestyle.

wellness industry

What Values Drive Wellness?

If we know that wellness brands differ from healthcare based on the holistic approach they take—what are the values that drive this industry?

  • Environment and community. These two core values are major differentiators that allow wellness companies to stand out from traditional healthcare companies. Wellness should focus on improving both the environment and the community as a whole.
  • Creating a world view. Belief systems play an important role in allowing individuals to identify which values they believe in.
  • Physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Wellness focuses on the total well-being of a person. This includes physical activity, healthy eating, self-care, and a sense of awareness when it comes to an individual’s health.
  • Self-awareness. Consumers are motivated by their own belief systems and values. Internal self-awareness makes it easier for consumers to relate to companies that they feel are doing the right thing.
  • Shared success. Good health is something that everyone wants. Wellness brands are positive by nature and aim to create a sense of community around healthy lifestyles that can make an impact on an individual’s overall health and well-being.

Research in the Wellness Industry

There is a lack of research in the wellness industry. While marketing strategies are evolving, many consumers still struggle to see the difference between healthcare and wellness approaches.

The wellness industry is rapidly growing and is nearly the same size as the healthcare industry. And we already know the positive physical and mental effects of mindfulness, yoga, and other wellness trends have on our well-being. However, additional research is required to educate consumers on the key differences between these industries, companies, and how to market individual products and services within them.

Future research must work to understand the distinct differences between these two large industries.

Why Specialized Wellness Marketing Is Necessary

Marketing strategies that work for healthcare brands don’t always translate to success for wellness brands. The treatment approach that healthcare takes isn’t compatible with the long-term, lifestyle-driven approach that wellness marketing requires.

  • Healthcare is heavily rooted in the diagnosis and treatment of an individual problem. If your lower back is sore, you’ll likely visit a doctor, get referred to see a massage therapist or a chiropractor, and receive treatment. Your back may feel better in the short-term, but it will likely get sore again if you don’t correct the lifestyle aspect of what created your back pain in the first place.
  • Wellness focuses on core values, long-term well-being, preventing bad habits, and a positive approach. Something like the keto diet requires a long-term lifestyle change that corrects your carb intake, improves your energy levels and focus, and your overall well-being. Establishing healthy lifestyle habits can help you improve other aspects of your life in the process, improving your health and happiness.  

Marketing in these two industries requires unique strategies that are individualized to specific companies, their customers, and their needs. While both require some degree of commitment, the methods required to achieve final outcomes are drastically different. 

Health does not always equal wellness, and wellness brands need specialized marketing strategies that cater to the differences in each space. After all, wellness values are unique and not always related to a specific treatment or health issue. 

Wellness marketing works to bridge the gap between these two industries by creating content that appeals to customers that prioritize their belief systems and values above all.

A healthcare consumer seeks an immediate solution, while a wellness consumer believes in long-term solutions like eco-friendliness, sustainability, lifestyle, and more.

Health and Wellness Are Similar and Different at the Same Time

The wellness industry is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. New brands are constantly being created, and specialized wellness marketing is needed to help these companies educate customers and tell their stories. 

Wellness brands need to work with companies that understand what makes them different.

About Social Styles Marketing 

Social Styles Marketing is a full-service wellness marketing agency (one of the first) that specializes in working with wellness brands. Founded in 2015 and before “wellness” became more than a buzz word, we have spent nearly a decade helping wellness brands tell their stories across a variety of digital channels. If you’d like to chat about your social media marketing strategy for your wellness brand, schedule a call with us.

Monthly Dose of Social Media Marketing Strategies for Wellness Brands

About us

We’re Not Your Average Health and Wellness Social Media Marketing Agency.


Social Styles is a health and wellness marketing agency that empowers socially conscious brands like yours to do great things. We get this industry and help wellness brands connect with relevant influencers and create valuable relationships with industry experts through stylized marketing that fits the image your brand has worked so hard to create.