Recently I went to an event where a very smart man in ad sales remarked, "for the consumer in 2010, convenience, cost and confusion reign." He is so right, and his savvy observation was backed up today in a report by Robert Passikoff, Ph.D. who observed recently that customer loyalty depends on consumers being able to find the real meaning, value or function in a brand. Why I am I telling you this? Because uncertainty is particularly rampant when it comes to health purchases, and it has given rise to a very cool trend I will call 'health translators' -- journalists and authors whose writing is getting more attention than the health gurus who ruled the book world for so many years. Sure, South Beach is now Supercharged and there's even an Idiot's Guide to Detoxing, but I think Americans are starting to turn a corner, and they are becoming a hint more skeptical. I like it.
If you're not sure what I'm driving at, let me give you two words: Michael Pollan. He's not selling flat bellies or slower aging with a big bold sign in the window. It's more subtle and his success formula is different. It's not A Man, A Plan, You Can, instead, he steeps you in research, adds some simple thoughts of summary and offers you digestible everyday information. Quite the recipe for success. (Who hasn't heard his basic but genius statement, "eat like your grandmother?") I am looking forward to more Pollans pollinating out there. We need them as our national health and wellness lexicon becomes increasingly confusing. Who is the next Marion Nestle, Oz Garcia, Sanjay Gupta? I have a few folks I see as on the rise the new translators.
• ON FOOD: I've been intrigued by Phil Lempert, Supermarket Guru, whose website is devoted to "smarter shopping, healthier eating, and better living." His video reports have a 60-minutes goes digital style that I like and trust. Not sure if he has a book contract yet, but he should.
• ON STRESS: Donna Karan trusts in Dr. Frank Lipman, author of the new release Spent: End Exhaustion and Feel Good Again. This is a good dose of medicine that should empower women, not just for celebrities, to take better care of themselves in basic ways. It provides some much needed medical answers for those of us, well, seemingly all of us, who are running on fumes these days. See the quick write-up on his celeb connections here: http://www.observer.com/2009/o2/donna-karans-health-guru-comes-to-rescue-exhausted-new-yorkers
• ON SEX: I am not as pumped about healthy gurus like Genie James and C.W. Randolph, Jr. who recently put out (couldn't help the pun) In the Mood Again, a guide to restoring your body's ideal hormone levels through food and supplements. They may have some decent ideas, but credibility, the kind that makes me want to call them translators? Not so much. If it doesn't have that safety-through-clear-science approach, well, I just don't think it's going to hit the mark with today's consumers.
ON HEALTHY HABITS: A powerhouse trio of docs -- Susan M. Love, MD, Alice D. Domar, Ph.D. and Nancy Snyderman, M.D -- have teamed up to write Live a Little: Breaking the Rules Won't Break Your Health. You can't get a more qualified group, unless maybe you were to throw Jane Brody in there for good measure.
ON MENTAL HEALTH: I am personally thankful for Judith Warner's latest, We've Got Issues on the complexity of medicating children today. Americans need more authors to spend more time getting knee-deep in the real stories and research behind some of the most vexing health issues of our time, including those of children. I thought Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety was bold, but this is even stronger stuff. To see the New York Times write-up in their books section, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/23/health/23book.html