The Wellness category, comprised of Health & Fitness and Medical Equipment & Facilities, was one advertising sector that grew at an exceedingly high rate in 2021 compared to 2020.
In fact, Wellness ranked in the top 3 for growth across all SMI measured category groups in 2021, with a +49% YoY increase in overall investment. It performed so well that Wellness finished out the last half of 2021 with double-digit month-over-month increases, reaching a three-year record high.
When looking at the channels that helped drive this growth, Traditional Media Channels played an integral part, with overall traditional media buys up +66% YoY. In particular, Traditional TV and Radio had lifts of over +70% vs. 2020. Digital also expanded, with Digital Video (+60%) and Audio (+65%) showing the heftiest rise.
For TV specifically, Wellness had an +18% boost in full-market National TV expenditure, while Upfront overtook DR Buy Types for the first time in three years, up +60% vs. 2020 and +104% vs. 2019. Additionally, Sports National TV investment surpassed pre-pandemic levels moving to a 13% share of spend across Program Genre from 11% in 2019.
Looking at the Health & Fitness subset of Wellness, those buys are driving the category with an allocation of 66% of total Wellness incremental dollars. This sector has grown +73% over the previous year, as marketers ramped up buys in Traditional media channels. Radio (+523%), OOH (+455%), and TV (+109%) expanded exponentially during the 4th quarter of 2021 vs. last year, reaching peak spend levels.
On the other side, the Medical Equipment & Facilities (ME&F) subset of the Wellness category had a cross-media increase of +19% during 2021, while Digital Media investment reached a new high, garnering 66% of total ME&F dollars. Social Media (+58%) and Digital Video (+43%) had the greatest lift; however, Search represented nearly 50% of incremental ME&F investment in 2021.
Wellness ended 2021 on a high note and is predicted to continue this upward momentum. The official numbers will be in shortly but January 2022 investment is projected to grow +58% YoY, indicating a strong start to the new year.