Indigo launches podcast as part of renewed brand focus on wellness

Indigo launched a new podcast this week dedicated to the “art and science of living well.” Co-hosted by CEO Heather Reisman, with Toronto journalist/activist Shivani Persad, the first episode features famous neurosurgeon and CNN reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta discussing brain health and his new book, Keep Sharp.

“Now, more than ever, we can and need to take care of ourselves and one another,” said Reisman in a release introducing the podcast. “The aim of our Well Said podcast is to connect our listeners with extraordinary writers, thinkers and experts who can help us in our quest to live with intention and purpose.”

As a massive book retailer, Indigo has access to leading authors and experts willing to take part in the podcast. But Well Said is also only one part of a larger shift toward wellness as a core part of the Indigo brand. The retailer has been expanding beyond books and into general merchandise for years now, but there will be a lot more focus on making wellness a core brand pillar going forward.

Indigo already had a wellness offering, and planned to further expand into the space heading into 2020, said vice-president of marketing Alison Lawler-Dean. Then the pandemic hit and the plan changed. In this case, however, Indigo didn’t so much change the plan as double down on it.

Internal search and sales data suggested that people were looking for books about staying well doing the crisis. “People are at home, they’re struggling, we’re seeing mental health issues with people and therefore mental health books are starting to spike,” said Lawler-Dean. “They’re working out at home, so they’re looking for more equipment.”

When people are reading more books about cooking, it presents an opportunity to sell more cookware, and when they’re reading about working out, there’s an opportunity to interest them in fitness equipment. Indigo’s Wellness Shop now offers Alo fitness gear, Bala weights, Theragun personal massagers, Casper sleep products, and Caraway cookware. In the fall, it launched its homeware line Oui, which will be followed next week by Oui sleepware. “[It] ties perfectly into wellness,” said Lawler-Dean.

That focus on wellness will remain a big theme for the brand going forward, with the vision crafted by Reisman herself, working with Indigo’s chief creative officer, Nathan Williams. “Together they have been [conceiving] a new future for Indigo that I think you’re starting to see included in the wellness offering,” said Lawler-Dean.

That focus was also brought to life in “Feel Good,” an advertising campaign launched at the beginning of the year that is Indigo’s antidote to the overly ambitious resolutions made at the start of the year. It’s for all those people feeling weighed down by the pandemic, and shouldn’t have to tackle big things. “We’re just trying to get through the day, we’re just trying to find those little moments of feeling good,” said Lawler-Dean.

The campaign was developed with those consumers in mind. “We can help you find simple solutions, whether it’s a five minute gratitude meditation, a healthy meal at the end of a hustling day, or getting away from screens and actually cracking a book. We really thought we could be our customers’ partner in helping them find those little moments and feel good throughout their day.”

Developed in-house with the Indigo creative studio, the campaign is digitally focused and relies heavily on Indigo’s considerable owned channels. “We have an incredible email database and social media following, and a very highly trafficked website,” said Lawler-Dean. Paid will focus on online video, paid social, display and search. The company is also doing live digital events and producing new content, including the podcast.

“We realized in those books we have access to all of the pre-eminent thought leaders,” she said. “We have all the ideas right there. And we can help unlock them for our customer.” Future podcast guests will include Arianna Huffington on the importance of sleep; Tiffany Shlain on unplugging from technology; Rupi Kaur on the art of writing; Amelia and Emily Nagoski on managing burnout; Robert Jones, Jr. on finding life’s purpose through writing; and Jay Shetty on mindfulness.

While the pandemic has changed the context for wellness as a marketing strategy, Lawler-Dean believes it will remain a focus once it is over. “This pandemic has really confronted us with a value shift,” she said. “We’ve really been forced to look at what is most important in our lives, and our own wellness and the wellness of those we love is at the top of that.

David Brown