Sunlighten is a wellness company and industry leader of infrared saunas. They are committed to innovating wellness products that empower consumers to improve quality of life. Owners Aaron and Connie Zack started out as pharmaceutical associates at Proctor and Gamble, but realized that they weren’t creating long-term solutions for people. After seeing the impact of infrared therapy on Connie’s brother, Jason, they joined him in his mission to spread the word about the healing effects of infrared therapy.
The company was founded in 1999 as Sunlight Saunas. In 2009, with a renewed sense of corporate mission, they rebranded as Sunlighten in order to expand their innovations into other wellness products. According to marketing director Brooke Basaldua, “we do more than sell saunas—we innovate wellness products and empower people to live healthier”. One example of this is the maintainME program, which combines three products to support the central pillars of human wellness—detoxification, electrolyte balance, and gut health. The program works to reduce inflammation, improve gut health and electrolyte balance to support the immune system, and maintain the body’s natural detoxification pathways.
With a global headquarters in Kansas City, Sunlighten has distributors in at least sixteen countries with distributors to carry out their vision around the globe. Sunlighten sells to both consumers and businesses, so their target audience encompasses a wide range of people – consumers seeking theraouetic value and businesses seeking healing services to generate revenue. They began the business because of a personal healing experience, so they understand what their consumers need and want. They also wanted to understand business customers on the same level, so they opened their own day spa in order to truly understand the commercial marketplace. Whether for business or consumer, infrared therapy is still a relatively new concept for many. Marketing for Sunlighten is as much an education process as it is a brand awareness campaign. Because of this, they’ve focused a lot of their efforts on influencer marketing, social media and content marketing.
Influencer Marketing, Content Marketing and Social Media
Brooke has been working at Sunlighten for 10 years, during which time she’s utilized their customer base of health professionals already using the product to spread the word, established a regularly-updated blog, and built up a large following on their social media accounts.
For Sunlighten, influencer marketing has been their most efficient way to educate consumers. The health experts who recommend Sunlighten have experienced the benefits and have a loyal following, bringing in a lot of business for them. Many of Sunlighten’s customers already have a health issue of some kind and have gone through the traditional means of medicine (prescription) to no avail. Alternative doctors and wellness experts recommend this non-traditional form of healing to their patients, because they’ve seen for themselves how effective it can be.
Social media is one of their biggest opportunities right now. However, it’s harder to manage because all their social media is done in-house. Even though this makes it easier to communicate the news that they want to spread, it also draws a lot on their resources. Brooke says that Facebook and Instagram are the platforms that their customers are the most engaged on. They update these accounts regularly with the latest wellness news, employee community involvement, and company announcements. By putting faces to their company, they give Sunlighten a brand personality. Even though they have LinkedIn and Twitter accounts, they haven’t seen as much engagement on these sites. Brooke says that LinkedIn could be beneficial for their commercial business in the future.
As far as content marketing goes, the company has a well-established blog that has posts written by individuals within their company. Their blogs are shared on social media, and cover a range of health-related topics. To be an influencer, you have to produce content that’s valuable to your consumer base. This content includes posts on one employees’ Iron Man training, recipes for eating healthy, and articles on other influencers who are releasing new content (ie: books).
The biggest challenge that Sunlighten’s marketing team faces is staying ahead of the marketing trends. Since Brooke only has two people working under her, they have a lot on their plate. Not only do they have to strategize and plan for the future, but they also have to be tactical with their current marketing efforts. They work with an agency for SEO and PPC, but it’s still difficult to specialize in every other facet of marketing and keep up with marketing trends.
The company is currently promoting their 3-in-1 infrared sauna. This patented technology delivers all three infrared wavelengths in one place. Each wavelength provides different health benefits because of how it penetrates the body. You can customize for certain programs, like detox or cardio/weight loss. This sauna emits exact frequency of wavelength for the benefit you’re looking for.
Brooke says a campaign that’s really influencing her is Peloton, an indoor cycling bike for your home that has a screen for virtual cycling classes. You can schedule a live class or record classes to fit your schedule. They have a similar type of business model to Sunlighten, and they do a great job of generating reoccurring revenue through their subscription setup (you have to subscribe to the virtual classes after you purchase the bike). Brooke especially admires the website: “you look at it and you want to be a part of that club”.
Moving forward, Sunlighten wants to start selling products online through Amazon or other avenues that might allow them to reach more people. They see an opportunity for growth on their ecommerce site with new wellness products that are in the works, and look forward to seeing how their company expands.