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Trend Update: The Wellness Industry Continues To Dominate Across Sectors

October 11, 2019 Sarah Cavill

girl sitting cross-legged

Last year, The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) released a study clocking the global wellness economy at more than $4.2 trillion. According to the study, the fastest growth sectors are spas, tourism and real estate, but wellness in 2019, which includes everything from beauty products to CBD, is having an impact across industries. This impact and growth can be attributed to cross-promotional branding, targeting new consumers, social media strategies and an uptick in sales innovations.

“As people incorporate more of the wellness values into their lifestyle, our interaction with the wellness economy is also becoming less episodic and more intentional, more integrative and more holistic,” said Ophelia Yeung, GWI Senior Research Fellow. “In the last few years, wellness has become a dominant lifestyle value that is profoundly changing consumer behavior and changing the markets.”

Hospitality And Tourism Have Embraced Wellness Tourism

Wellness tourism is predicted to reach $919 billion by 2022, according to GWI and has grown twice as quickly as regular tourism. Over the least two years, concerns about “overtourism,” which is the extreme concentration of visitors to certain cities and landmarks, has been gaining traction. Wellness tourism is seen as a possible antidote to overtourism, by drawing tourists to cities and sites less frequently visited, which offer eco-friendly, health-focused experiences.

“Tourism professionals must seize on the interest of wellness travelers seeking alternative destinations that provide hyper-local, transformational experiences. Tourism boards need to shift their focus from promotion to planning and management challenges in order to spread these visitors to alternative areas,” according to GWI.

Alternately, Skift, a travel-focused media company, recommends any smart destination marketing campaign should incorporate wellness into their messaging, even destinations that might not otherwise align with wellness “values,” like Las Vegas. The result of this shift in travel marketing focus includes 830 million “wellness trips” taken in 2017, up more than 135 million from the prior two years. An early adopter of the wellness hook is the Romagna region of Italy, which launched the Visit Wellness Valley campaign in 2006, poaching the name Wellness Valley from a local fitness company. “We wanted to let people know that, here, you can go from yoga by the sea to hiking in the mountains in only an hour,” said Barbara Candolfini, the Wellness Valley Marketing and Media Relations Leader. Candolfini added that Romagna was early to the wellness movement, but now Romagna businesses regularly cater to visitors looking for a more relaxing experience after stops in Rome and Florence.

Nutrition And Diet Are Dominant Sectors In The Wellness Industry

Global sales of organic food have increased more than $80 billion since 2000, and the U.S. accounts for more than half of retail sales of organic food worldwide. Organic can mean different things to different diets, but the trend to eat “clean” continues to dominate conversations about nutrition and food health. Focusing on wellness, a holistic approach to eating and altruism can be effective messaging for organic or health food companies marketing to consumers. For example, in 2015, Morningstar Farms launched its “Just What the World Ordered” campaign focusing on the veggie-centered lifestyle supported by their products. The Morningstar Farms multichannel campaign launched on Earth Day included digital, social and print advertising.

global wellness economy: $3.7 trillion in 2015

The rise of plant-based burgers, from companies including Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, whose founders plainly state they aren’t interested in vegans and vegetarians but rather converting meat-eaters, is another example of wellness making an impact. These new veggie burgers are made for meat-eaters, and with two-thirds of Americans surveyed in a Johns Hopkins consumer study reporting  that they are eating less meat because of health concerns, the time is right for marketers to shift their attention to this “sort-of-vegetarian” demographic.

The evolving options in healthy eating also reflect consumer perceptions about dieting, as indicated by the constantly changing fortunes of WW (formerly Weight Watchers). Wellness and dieting are often locked in a battle between body positivity and skinny tea, with a tremendous amount of overlap of marketing dollars and revenue in fitness, nutrition and personal care. The fad and trend changes in these sectors, both in what consumers want and what is offered, means that marketing strategies that worked one year may not work the next, so staying agile is essential for effective campaigns.

Beauty And Wellness Go Hand In Hand As Brands Like P&G Capitalize On Wellness Trends And Millennials Drive The Growth

From Demi Moore’s morning routine to managing the stress of your bestie’s divorce, Thrive Global, Arianna Huffington’s wellness platform, aims to improve well-being and ultimately performance — with a side of strategic, branded sponsorships, self-help advice and celebrity content. In June, Proctor & Gamble (P&G) announced a partnership with Thrive using P&G brands to bring positive changes and reduce stressful behaviors. “It’s time to reimagine creativity to reinvent advertising,” said Marc Pritchard, P&G’s Chief Brand Officer. “There are vast sources of creativity available, and today P&G is taking action to merge the ad world with other creative worlds through partnerships that embrace humanity and broaden our view of what advertising could be.” Linking products to wellness and linking wellness to advertising strategies is a trend seen across many beauty brands and companies. In fact, beauty accounts for one-fourth of the wellness economy.

Force Brands, a recruiter for consumer brands, recently recognized five brands effectively integrating wellness and performance. Henry Rose is a perfume company that only sources clean, high-quality ingredients, while Standard Dose is a plant-based CBD company that makes everything from tinctures to dog chews. Both brands have slick, curated Instagram presences with user generated content (UGC) components appealing to younger, affluent audiences. As of late 2018, there were 21.4 million posts tagged with the #wellness hashtag on Instagram.

Younger consumers, in particular, are the drivers behind the wellness trend, and they feel more comfortable than older buyers when spending money on themselves. “For Millennials, wellness is a daily, active pursuit. They’re exercising more, eating smarter and smoking less than previous generations. They’re using apps to track training data, and online information to find the healthiest foods. And this is one space where they’re willing to spend money on compelling brands,” according to a Goldman Sachs study, Millennials: Coming of Age.

Direct-To-Consumer Brands Are Successful Innovators In The Wellness Market

According to Luxe Digital, “An effective approach to wellness seizes opportunities to bolster a sustainable, healthy way of living whether through partnerships, cross-category expansions and innovations, or new business models.” Leslie Barrie, Skift Wellness Editor, points out that direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands have been successful in the wellness category, particularly with digital health subscriptions.

Brands including Curology and Hims continue to get venture funding, retain high valuations and scale customers. “It’s hard to ignore the common thread with these companies: They each tap into telemedicine, which makes shopping easier for customers. It allows them to avoid the hassle of finding a doctor and helps personalize the buying experience. Utilizing this digital health trend may be one of the reasons for the success of these companies,” noted Barrie. From personalized vitamins to meal kits, feminine hygiene products and shaving clubs — the sky is the limit for wellness and health focused DTC brands successfully connecting with consumers.

The wellness industry represents 5.3% of global economic output and shows no signs of slowing down, with GWI anticipating projected growth in every sector. Heritage and other established brands need to find authentic, meaningful ways to connect with consumers interested in wellness, and new brands need to continue being relevant to powerful Millennial and Gen Z consumers, while also providing access to other consumer sets, like Gen X and the non-affluent public. As marketers try and manage all the different variables when optimizing wellness marketing, strategies for successful campaigns are likely to include partnerships, brand crossovers and adopting ecommerce innovations.

Are You Looking For Unique Opportunities To Enter The Wellness Market?

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About the Author

Sarah Cavill

With more than 20 years of writing, editing and reporting experience, Sarah Cavill brings to Digital Media Solutions (DMS) a fine-tuned and diverse set of skills. Her work has been featured in notable publications including The Daily Muse, CBS Local, Techlicious and Glamour magazine. Sarah has a passion for current events and the deep-dive research that goes into the content development and brand identity of DMS Insights. In her role as Senior Marketing Communications Writer, Sarah contributes to the pitching, researching and writing of multiple stories published each week surrounding digital and performance marketing innovations in pop culture, news, social media, branding and advertising.

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