With the wellness sector worth $4.2 trillion, many brands are trying to get a slice of this pie

With the wellness sector worth $4.2 trillion, many brands are trying to get a slice of this pie

Muscling Into The Wellness Sector

Not too long ago, I was invited to run a workshop for one of the world’s largest consumer packaged goods companies to help push forward some of their latest new product development concepts. 

When I looked through some of the potential ideas, it was clear that this famous beverage company was eyeing a move into the $4.2 trillion wellness sector. And, honestly, who isn’t these days with a projected compound annual growth rate of 6% from 2019-2023? 

In the past five years, briefs have come across my desk from brands selling products as varied as shampoo and condoms looking to position themselves in the wellness industry. 

And I get it. 

There’s a lot of money to make if you can deliver on helping people feel better. 

But the emphasis in most of the briefs I’ve received is always on the physical wellness benefits of the new products or innovations these companies are crafting – whether it’s throwing in some charcoal or CBD to the formulations or promising that the product will make you feel all the warm fuzzy hygge vibes.

Understand The Cultural Mindset

Whilst delivering physical wellness benefits isn’t wrong, it’s also not the whole picture. 

And brands who only focus on innovating this way will ultimately lose out on a much bigger opportunity in entering the wellness category. So, for the workshop, and now in life, I’ve been on a mission to open some of our clients’ minds by exploring an expanded understanding of wellness as a cultural mindset.

The idea of what it’s meant to be 'healthy' or 'well' has evolved greatly in the past 75 years. 

The world’s gone from a “pill for every ill” approach, to a preventative mindset, to acknowledging a link between the mind and body, to an expanded definition of wellness that includes both the self and society today. 

While Gen Z is largely driving this expanded definition, every generation is embracing it because of the global anxiety epidemic. 

According to the World Health Organisation, 1 in 13 humans globally suffer from anxiety. 

And in an effort to minimise these unprecedented levels of nerves we’re all experiencing (thank you 24/7 news cycle and ubiquitous din of social media!), we’re searching for things and brands who can help us feel better. 

The Whole Picture

Today, wellbeing encompasses individual wellness – physical and mental – as well as collective wellness – digital, social and environmental. 

The new rule is that if a product or service caters to personal wellbeing, it cannot have a detrimental effect on society or the environment as a whole. 

Why? Because if we buy it, we’ll feel anxious. 

The probiotics in our kefir pot may make our microbiome feel like a Kardashian on a PJ, but if the dairy was sourced from cows bound in tiny windowless cells whose gas is ripping a whole in the ozone, then we may be right back in crampy-stomach-knot territory for supporting this broken system by purchasing said pot. 

Wellness benefits: Poof!

A Well World

A well self means a well world. Because if a product doesn’t deliver on both, purchasing it increases anxiety. 

The question for brands, and those who help build them, isn’t if you can make wellness products (you can) but how your products can help people feel well in every aspect of their being. Happily, for an old grouch like me, we’re already seeing businesses shift to this new cultural mindset. 

A March 2019 survey of 2,000 Americans found that 39% experienced ‘travel guilt’ when ‘enjoying’ holiday activities such as swimming with dolphins or holding terrified koalas in front of fake Australian backdrops. 

In October 2019, travel booking platform Airbnb announced a partnership with charity World Animal Protection (WAP) to create ethical animal experiences for travellers. 

It has smartly taken steps to minimise the distress of ‘travel guilt’ by only offering animal experiences that meet WAP guidelines. 

Once an experience complies, it features a nifty WAP badge on the Airbnb site, reassuring travelers that there’s nothing bad to feel about after the thrill of a close encounter with a llama during their detox weekend.

A Happy And Healthy Shopper

More and more, we’re seeing brands begin to flex their business model to deliver a fully circular wellness experience in this way. 

And, in my mind, every business, regardless of sector, should do this because, increasingly, everything will need to make people feel well. 

So, the next time a client asks you to help make them a wellness brand, take my advice: Make consumers feel as well about purchasing your product as they feel about consuming it. 

And build a brand experience that supports consumers not just physically but mentally, emotionally and socially through all of the brand’s touchpoints.

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