What are Holistic Approaches and Why Are Companies Using Them?

What is a holistic approach?

Having a holistic approach means looking at something as a whole interconnected entity; understanding the bigger picture, not only thinking outside the box but removing the box completely. The holistic approach to wellbeing has been around since the 4th Century BC, taught by Hippocrates who encouraged people to look at them themselves as a whole person rather than just focusing on a specific body part or illness. Although holistic health has been around for years, and still growing in popularity, having a holistic approach within companies is relatively new. Despite being a fresh concept, the approach is increasing in popularity among small and large companies worldwide.  

What are the benefits of a holistic approach?

There are many benefits to companies using holistic approaches. It allows them to see which sections of the company are failing or are weaker compared to others.

For example, when looking at departments individually, it may seem that the two departments are failing or falling behind. However, when looked at as a whole, it may then appear that only one department is actually falling behind which, in turn, is impacting on the next department.

Even though the approach looks at the company as a whole, this doesn’t necessarily mean companies merge departments, it simply means they align a company to see and analyse the overall company aim. This approach gives equal importance and an overall shared purpose to every department and therefore can ensure a company is running to its full potential.

Companies such as Apple have successfully used a holistic approach when adapting their designs. Originally Apple’s products showed little resemblance to each other because each department worked separately with its own heads of design.  By using a holistic approach, Apple looked at all their products as a whole and designed them to have an overall synthesis. This, in turn, powered their brand image. Customers now buy Apple products to own a piece of the brand, as well as the product itself. Other big-name companies such as Heineken, Nike, and Nespresso have also taken on holistic approaches, all of which have resulted in substantial growth and exposure.

Apple products

Apple products

Looking at markets and audiences holistically

Companies adopt a holistic approach for different reasons. However, one overall goal is usually growth - being that in a current local or international market, or when expanding globally.

As well as approaching companies and products with a holistic view, the holistic approach can also be used to look at a company’s market and audience, being that their current or potential. 

It is important for companies to understand a market with cultural context so they can pursue growth with the specific needs of the culture at the forefront of their expansion. Using the same marketing techniques and structure in each country won’t make every growth or expansion venture successful.

For example, to look into the financial sector of India, a company wouldn’t just want to look at banks, but instead the financial environment as a whole. How people use banks in relation to their location, do they have access to banks directly? How do they save their money? How do they invest? All these factors - environments, accessibility, economy and values -  build a country as a whole and by looking at only one or a few will not give a company the necessary overall view of the country.  

It is vital for companies to not only understand how people use, spend and lend money, but why. For example, cash has always been the predominant payment method in India because paying in cash is easy and quick, unlike online payment methods which require a computer and a lengthy amount of time. As well as this, India has huge family values which means sending money to family members is important, and it is even more important that they can pick the money up in cash if they live rurally.  This reliance on cash would be important for a company to know and understand. 


Looking at the market as a whole is important. It gives the complete contextual story, not only allowing companies to tailor their marketing, business propositions, product features and shape to a specific culture but also to plan for the future. It helps to get the most out of the potential growth within a country, being that a current one or future expansion.   

Understanding and implicating the cultural context of a specific market holistically ensures every aspect of a product or service is appropriately targeted, accessible, and desirable to the customers within it. This will not only help growth, but also retention and conversion.  

What does this mean?

Developing holistic views on markets, businesses, companies, and products increase the likelihood of success and growth within a country. The more a company knows about the country and culture they’re in or expanding into, the better their global advances will be. The easier a product/service is to access and consume in a country, the more trust customers will have in that company. There is no such thing in knowing too much about a market. 

These approaches also bring together the overarching purpose and mission of a company.  They allow companies to get real insights into their current and future markets. With the proven success of holistic approaches undertaken by big-brand companies, it’s clear why the approach is increasing in popularity and recognition, with more companies taking on this approach to get the most out of their expansion, growth, retention and conversion ventures. 

If you’d like to hear more about how we help other businesses view their current or future markets and audiences holistically, get in touch with us: hello@beyo.global.