CMO of the Week: Headspace's Christine Hsu Evans

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Christine Hsu Evans joined mindfulness and meditation app Headspace as chief and strategy marketing officer in October 2021, just as the company announced its merger with mental healthcare platform Ginger, forming a joint company valued around $3 billion. 

Christine Hsu Evans joined mindfulness and meditation app Headspace as chief and strategy marketing officer in October 2021, just as the company announced its merger with mental healthcare platform Ginger, forming a joint company valued around $3 billion. 

“As those two companies came together, it's a really great example of how consumer perceptions of mental health are actually changing and companies need to change their approaches of how they speak to them and how they get to them,” said Hsu Evans. “Consumers don't see mental health today as just going to talk to a therapist. They actually see it all the way from mental wellness and self care to the things that I'm doing to journal, the tools and tips to be able to help myself on a daily basis, whether it be work related to parenting or some of the everyday work. It can be episodic – I'm going through divorce, I just got a promotion, I feel impostor syndrome, I have lost someone in my family – that whole spectrum, our consumer sees mental health.” 

In her role Hsu Evans leads all marketing and communications for Headspace consumer and employer partnerships with businesses spreading Headspace’s mission of “creating a world where anyone can be kind to their mind.”

“Whether that be products that they're able to get through their employer or something they actually go and they seek on their own, Headspace offers a lot of the great content for mindfulness meditation,” said Hsu Evans. “It is super important for us to ensure that our brand message and our products are as accessible as possible and that you want to engage with them.” 

Headspace launched a new brand campaign last month called “Everyday Headspace,” which aims to expand its audience to reach new users who are looking for help alleviating everyday stress including: relationship woes, sleep issues, work stress and parenting. The idea is to help show how using the app can help people improve their mood to better deal with these issues.

“Everything that we're providing has integrity to it and it's evidence based,” said Hsu Evans. “We have a lot of great studies that look at the effectiveness of both mindfulness meditation and some of our products on things like stress, burnout, and making sure that we're inclusive.” 

Brand Innovators caught up with Hsu Evans from her home office in Bellevue, Washington to talk about everyday meditation, partner collaborations and the women's Collection. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Your recent "Everyday Headspace" campaigns expanded who you are targeting. Can you talk about why you are expanding your audience and who you are hoping to reach?

The Everyday Headspace campaign is really based on two key insights. One is that people really do love and cherish the Headspace brand. And they really do need more education on this category of meditation of mindfulness, and how it can actually help them. They may have heard of it before, they may have very preconceived notions of what meditation of mindfulness is characteristic. You're sitting on a rock and holding your hands like this. What we want to be able to communicate to folks is this is something that you can do every day. It's not necessarily something that you have to add to your to-do list. It's something that can complement any part of your day, whether it's first waking up in the morning or a quick breather that you need between meetings. 

We have content and experiences for anyone who wants to be able to solve that day-to-day stress and anxiety. Most of the folks we're addressing with this campaign in particular are working age. Folks who have either just entered the workforce or are in the middle of careers, especially with the enterprise. Everything that we've heard surrounding work stress, the Great Resignation, quiet quitting, we want to be able to provide folks with the tools that they need to be able to manage that and keep balance within their lives.

What channels are you using to connect to your core customers and why?

On the consumer front, we're doing quite a bit  of performance marketing to make sure that we're showing up where people live their daily lives. You'll also see us more often now in above the line media. We're certainly showing up in streaming media. We're doing quite a bit in terms of partnerships and partnering with folks who are authentic to our message and trusted by our audience. We are working with YouTube creator channel Yes Theory and creating some pretty incredible content with their authentic and credible voices that speak to our audience.

We are fortunate to have a team and a product that allows us to reach audiences outside of those that we would traditionally find ourselves. For example, we did a partnership in May with Star Wars that has continued to this point of integrating a lot of their beloved characters. We produced the Guide to Meditation with Netflix. It continues to be a place where our audiences are able to find us and learn more. Beyond the consumer channels, we see that workplaces and employers really care a lot about making sure that their employees feel like they can take care of themselves and have the tools to be able to do that.We work quite a bit with companies through their HR teams to help them educate their employees about the power of meditation and mindfulness. We'll help them to host a town hall or a webinar on adapting within the workplace in times of change.

What is your company's brand purpose and how does this show up in your creative executions?

Certainly the core of mindfulness and meditation is what Headspace has been known for, but increasingly we want to broaden that dialogue in a way that consumers are really asking for, to be able to have them talk about their mental health. Mental health is a journey, you're not in a single state. You're not just a person who needs meditation or just a person who goes to therapy. You may be any of those things at any given point in your life. You'll see it show up from a product perspective and certainly from a marketing perspective. Coming together as a brand that can help you at any any of those moments in your life no matter how challenging they are, how small they may seem, or how big they are. 

Can you talk about expanding your library of content to address this bigger picture of mental health and meditation?

Inclusivity is really at the core of how we think about creating content. Our women's collection recently launched, it’s the first time that we've really addressed a lot of those things that we've been hearing from women over the years about what's most important to them. We have collections for celebrating Black joy and AAPI, and for Pride. The inclusivity element is super important to us. 

We recently announced the acquisition of an app called Shine, an incredible platform for People of Color to be able to come together and address their mental health in ways that are very specific to them. The acquisition of Shine has been a really foundational element for us in terms of accelerating our ability to be inclusive and to be relevant to folks of any background right within our app. 

In the next year, you will see this intersection of mental wellness and mental health really coming together. We have a number of clients who previously had purchased these two separate products – the Ginger product that offers behavioral health coaching, therapy, and psychiatry and Headspace. There's already a lot of momentum and folks who sponsor health care for their members or employees to be able to do that. 

What are you most excited about for the rest of 2022?

2022 has been an incredible year for us in terms of coming together as a company. I'm most excited about some of the newer campaigns that we're launching this fall and actually going into January, which is a really big time for us in terms of folks looking for mental health and us wanting to be a solution. We're launching the ability for you to be able to really be able to gift Headspace to someone that and love, which we consider to be the ultimate gift that you can give to someone for holiday. The ability for us to be able to lean into the community that Headspace has built over the last 10 years, and allow them to buy a gift for Headspace. In Q4, and the rest of this year, it's really about leaning into our loyal audiences that have actually made Headspace into what it is today and help them to share that goodness of the brand and experience with the world.

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