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How innovation is creating new wellness sub-categories – part 2

Rather than reinventing the wheel with new products and services, innovation can often be found in the creation of compelling new narratives.

In the previous step, you learnt more about how the utilisation of innovative technology helped to forge the connected fitness equipment category. But what about other forms of innovation –– how have they spawned new wellness sub-categories?

In some cases, rather than completely reinventing the wheel with new products and services, innovation can be found in the creation of compelling new narratives –– especially those that help to shift an existing discourse.

Whether it’s changing the look and feel, switching up the language, or reworking the entire experience, a host of trailblazers across various wellness categories have found themselves able to radically alter the landscape and connect with a broader audience, for whom the existing rhetoric didn’t resonate.

One wellness category for which this is especially true is ‘personal care, beauty, and anti-aging’, which has undergone further compartmentalisation in recent years, as demonstrated by the emergence of men’s wellness as a distinct sub-category.

So, what’s changed?

To illustrate further, let’s examine how existing brands such as Manual and Asystem have reinvented outdated values and behaviours associated with men’s health and wellness to facilitate this shift. Go to the See Also section to find out more about these brands.


Manual, a wellbeing platform for men, aims to empower its customers “to proactively solve their well-being and look after their health”.

Launched in 2019, the British-based startup provides medical-grade products and guidance, including prescription sexual-wellness products, hair loss pills, and daily supplements. However, in direct opposition to many of the established brands targeting men by perpetuating an overtly masculine and emotionally detached “tough guy” stereotype, it flips that narrative on its head by embodying and encouraging a new kind of masculinity.

Instead of relying on fear and shame, it celebrates openness and honesty, as well as suggesting that taking care of one’s wellness should be worn as a badge of honour.

“We’re challenging the outdated notion that real men shrug their shoulders and carry on”, reads the brand’s website, which also employs a range of inclusive and aspirational visuals to help create an identity that supports this hands-on and positive approach.

“At Manual we want men to take control of their health and happiness by helping guide them to the choices that work best for them. We believe this starts with promoting a change in how men approach their wellbeing,” Manual CEO, George Pallis, who co-founded the company told TechCrunch [1].


Also changing perceptions of men’s health and wellness is Asystem, an American brand selling skincare, supplements, and pain relief.

By positioning itself as a credible health adviser backed by a scientific advisory board, and in creating products that use ingredients informed by clinical data, it has found itself able to build a community of like-minded men who resonate more deeply with this ideology than traditional notions associated with wellness.

Asystem health supplements and creams

In fact, by tapping into values around betterment and community, whilst avoiding the more fluffy signifiers of wellness culture that have kept many men from embracing it previously, the brand has filled a gap in the market based on functionality and performance without being hyper-masculine or macho.

“Historical norms established male self-care as something that wasn’t masculine…This has changed. It’s now normal, if not expected, for men to have a self-care or a wellness routine – and why shouldn’t it be? Why shouldn’t a man take care of himself? Why shouldn’t he want to be his best self, day-in and day-out,” co-founder, Josh LeVine, recently told Forbes [2].

He’s not alone in his thinking. Today, a surge of brands are employing this new playbook, with others including Hims, Roman and Keeps, all successfully building men’s lifestyle brands by similarly challenging the status quo and breaking down taboos.

In doing so, they’ve helped to disrupt the men’s wellness space and carved out a new category for themselves.

What do you think?

Are there any other wellness concerns or practices that could be reimagined in this way to create new sub-categories?

What are the existing values and attitudes associated with the practice or activity, and how could they be transformed?

Use the Comments section below to share your thoughts.


[1] Manual Raises £5M to Build its Well-being Guide for Men

[2] Find Out How This New DTC Brand Is Helping Men Set Their Wellness On Auto Pilot

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