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2019 Wellness Trends that Operators Need to Know

The Welltodo 2019 Consumer Wellness Trends Report highlights some of the key trends we can expect to see in the wellness industry over the coming months.  The $4.2 trillion global wellness industry has evolved into an increasingly complex and transitory market. We spoke to Laura Hill, Senior Editor at Welltodo, to learn how operators can capitalise on some of the major trends predicted for the year ahead…

Inclusivity: According to the report, inclusivity in the wellness industry is a growing trend. There is a huge opportunity for brands who really seek to break into a more mainstream, mass market audience. What can operators do to make inclusivity an integral practice for their business and what are the benefits of doing so?

Wellness brands are being forced to rethink their marketing strategies if they want to connect with consumers on a more authentic level. It’s no longer enough to simply band around the term diversity when talking about brand values. Instead, businesses need to practice what they preach and truly represent their customers if they are to cultivate loyalty.

Today’s consumers are fluid in their identities, so the brands they engage with need to demonstrate a sense of fluidity too when communicating with them. This means not only representing different body shapes, races and ethnicities in advertising campaigns but also creating real-life communities where these people are represented too.

From the creation and visualisation of products and services to hiring a diverse workforce/trainers, inclusivity needs to be an integral business practice that runs through everything a brand does. And it needs to be progressive. This means brands should take a holistic approach that involves the groups of people they are trying to reach.

For brands that can find a way to evoke a sense of shared identity among increasingly fractured communities, they’ll find they’re able to connect with customers on an emotional level and engage with their most basic of human needs.

Wellness brands are being forced to rethink their marketing strategies if they want to connect with consumers on a more authentic level. It’s no longer enough to simply band around the term diversity when talking about brand values. Instead, businesses need to practice what they preach and truly represent their customers if they are to cultivate loyalty.

Mental Health: The report identified mental health as a growing trend with the wellness industry opening up the conversation around mental illness. What role can operators play in creating solutions to the growing mental health epidemic?

From mindful meditation apps that have rebranded an age-old remedy for the digital generation to the influx of high-end yoga retreats that claim to reset and restore balance, the growing need for self-care solutions that help to prevent poor mental health has driven an abundance of innovation and investment within the wellness industry. When it comes to fitness, this is no different.

As consumers have become more informed about the role exercise plays in boosting mental health, many fitness operators have begun to modify their offerings to include hybrid classes that incorporate both the mental and physical. And these feel-good classes, such as Mindful HIIT or Yoga Meditation are a convenient and accessible way for time-poor, stressed out workers to reap the major benefits associated with them.

Some operators have even begun to introduce dedicated meditation classes, based on the idea that by resynching the mind and body, overall performance will be enhanced and those high-intensity HIIT classes will soon become a breeze. But away from the class timetable, there are other ways operators can leverage the movement too.

Employee wellbeing is becoming a crucial concern for many of the world’s biggest companies, so for fitness operators that can tailor their classes to meet the needs of employers, they can make the most of these changing attitudes. This could include special hybrid mind-body classes, mindful lunchtime classes or bespoke corporate offerings for larger firms – all of which could create additional revenue streams and attract more members.

The key will be to develop fitness concepts that tackle modern-day health concerns, but in an easily digestible format. Stress, loneliness and anxiety are at the forefront of the conversation, so fitness classes that can provide relief will continue to be in high-demand.

Healthy convenience: As shopping habits of the average consumer changes, the report identifies a shift in convenience offerings from sugary snacks and highly processed options to healthy, balanced nutrition. What is the opportunity for fitness operators?

Today’s shoppers are far more likely to embrace convenient F&B options if it means they’ll have access to the products they want, when they want them. If that includes the latest kombucha or kimchi, they’re willing to pay the higher price tag. For fitness operators, this presents a huge opportunity for attracting more members and in turn, creating additional revenue streams within their club/studio.

Take healthy vending machines, which are poised to become more widespread over the coming years. These appeal to consumers that want to make an impulse purchase but not one that’s going to derail their commitment to healthy eating, and they create the perfect opportunity to stock the latest health-conscious products that can’t be found elsewhere.

For operators that are short on space, they provide an engaging customer experience without the overheads associated with a full-scale F&B operation. However, for those that do have more space to play with, in-house cafes or partnerships with established, healthy F&B brands are another route to success.

Equinox, Third Space and Everyone Active have all found success by partnering with external suppliers, while Barry’s Bootcamp’s famous Fuel Bar attracts customers in its own right, helping to increase the brand’s footfall.

With more and more consumers taking a holistic approach to their health, it really is a no-brainer to offer some sort of healthy F&B option alongside a fitness proposition. And with the concept of wellness gradually becoming more enshrined in every purchasing decision consumers make, fitness operators will need to sharpen their focus on wider wellness practices if they want to stand out.

The Boutique Model Branches Out: The trend of big box gyms adopting a more boutique model is a trend we’ve been hearing about for a while. What are some examples of operators doing this well?

The boutique fitness model has become ubiquitous with the wellness industry since it first disrupted the market with its premium aesthetic, bespoke services and cultivation of tribe-like communities.

The exponential adoption of the boutique model by millennials has changed the fitness market forever and now forward-thinking big box operators are leveraging its commercial value to win back the affections of consumers that are opting for its more flexible and personalised approach to fitness.

British health club operator David Lloyd Leisure is a great example of how it is capitalising on the demand for a more custom experience. It recently invested £15 million to roll out its new Blaze group exercise class across 49 of its 114 health clubs. The high-intensity interval training (HIIT) class, which combines cardiovascular training with strength and combat exercises mirrors those found at 1Rebel and Barry’s Bootcamp.

Elsewhere, Everyone Active’s recent landmark partnership with MoreYoga also highlights the opportunities that exist for health club operators to claim their share of the boutique market. Operating out of a number of Everyone Active centres in London and the South East as a ‘boutique within a big box’, the addition of MoreYoga will no doubt introduce a new demographic of customers to the leisure operator.

By providing these types of classes, both operators are giving their customers the ‘best of both worlds’ and eliminating the risk of losing members that feel they have to choose between a boutique or big box.

It’s a savvy strategy and one that the market is going to see more of moving forward.

Reinventing the wheel: The report identifies that finding new ways for operators to stand out from the crowd will become increasingly more important as the boutique model matures. Can this work for all operators?

As the boutique model matures, reinventing the wheel will become increasingly important for fitness operators looking for ways to stand out from the crowd –– whether it’s futuristic fitness concepts like London-based boutique fitness operator 1Rebel’s spin amphitheatre that elevate the concept or SoulCycle’s new hybrid concert bike rides –– pivoting quickly and responding to changes in consumer trends will be key in the quest to stay relevant.

For brands that can showcase how innovative and personalised their fitness experience can be, they’ll be able to build enough emotional hooks to keep consumers returning.

For big box operators, although not quite as extreme, the underlying philosophy remains the same –– if they want to stand out, they will need to look to consumers to drive the direction of the business. They certainly have the expertise and resources behind them to do so, however, they must make sure whatever direction they take aligns with their existing proposition and adds real value for their customers if they are to really elevate their game.

They key is to create a unique experience and foster a sense of community around the brand, whether that’s big or small.

For more details on the trends set to shape the industry in the year ahead, you can download the full 2019 Wellness Trend Report here.


Posted in Digital Marketing, Most Popular Interviews, The Fitness Network.