Whether you’re looking to invest in the next big thing or want to diversify an existing brand into a new market, these are the big opportunities that are present in the worldwide health and wellbeing space, an industry now worth $3.72 trillion — and growing at over 10 percent per year.
For their recent Well Economy report into the burgeoning global wellness space, consultancy firm JWT surveyed over 1,000 US consumers and found that 58% think of sleep quality when asked about their health. This interest played out at a recent sellout talk on the secrets of getting to and staying asleep. Held at London health and wellness club Grace Belgravia, experts included the author of the newly released The One-Week Insomnia Cure, Jason Ellis, whose book promises evidence-based techniques for combatting sleep disorders. It follows the release of Arianna Huffington’s Sleep Revolution last year, which made it to number two in the New York Times science bestsellers shortly after it was released.
Going beyond the need for advice and coaching, innovative brands are leveraging the demand for sleep optimisation by creating accessories that combine luxury and science to aid the process of nodding off. At their London showroom, not only does bed and mattress specialist Rested offer ergonomic, fully adjustable products, but will help customers find the optimum sleep position. It’s a market that investors seem eager to get a piece of; high-tech mattress brand Simba raised £9m in February 2017 and there has been no shortage of new players entering the mattress space of late – including Eve and Leesa.
David Lloyd has risen to the challenge too, with its new 45-minute Napercise classes. Trialled in April 2017, the studio sessions were targeted toward tired parents. Featuring single beds and atmospheric sounds to help them sleep in the middle of the day, the goal? To make up for lack of rest at night.
Luxury spa resorts are also getting in on the act. The Sleep With Six Senses initiative launched by the chain in September 2016 features ambassadors who are on-call to check in with guests’ sleep quality. Elsewhere, at The Alpina Gstaad in Switzerland, the spa’s Yogic Sleep Retreat includes holistic massage, meditation, foot acupressure, biorhythms and personal training, all geared towards better sleep quality, at a price of 2,150 CHF for three nights.
Established homewares brands have been slow to cotton on to the benefits of alignment with good “sleep hygiene”, but those willing to position candles, sheets and stationary as sleep-conducive, must-have accessories, are already enjoying success. Arianna Huffington’s Thrive Global, which closed a $7m in Series A funding round in August 2016, is leading the way with a curated collection of smart lighting, comfortable sleepwear and scented children’s toys. And Neom Organics is offering free sleep ebooks, as well as collections of luxury bath and body products to be used in its “three step sleep programme”. This is a strategy that seems to be paying off for the luxury brand, which recently announced plans to open its first central London store in Chelsea.
Baby boomers account for almost 50 percent of UK spending – some £320bn a year – according to research by Saga and the CEBR. And with 27 percent of the country’s ageing population set to fall into the over-65 age group by 2030, the importance of older consumers is only going to grow.
Currently, older people are leading the way on fitness consumption as much as they are in other areas. Research published by Nuffield Health last year revealed that members in their sixties made an average of seven visits a month to the company’s health clubs, compared to the five made by those aged 20-29.
Yet much recent innovation in the wellness industry — from high-intensity boutique fitness to high-protein breakfast-on-the-go drinks — has been marketed at millennials with far less disposable income, despite their generation’s enthusiasm for healthier lifestyles.
To make the most of this “silver segment,” a 2011 Boston Consulting Group report into ageing consumers warned against patronising older people with simplistic products and services, arguing that: “They want their special needs to be acknowledged. Companies can do this in a way that emphasises the positive rather than the negative aspects of ageing.”
Luxury retirement development Auriens, which is set to open in Chelsea in 2019, will rise to the challenge with a pool, spa, and gym for its over-70s residents. In a statement announcing planning permission for the scheme, co-founder Johnny Sandelson explained: “The world is obsessed with millennials but we see a huge opportunity at the other end of the market, amongst a group we have dubbed ‘perennials.’”
Despite this potential, innovative low-impact class offerings like Zumba Gold have largely been overlooked by the major chains, though a handful of David Lloyd health clubs offer the modified version of the original class, while upmarket sports-focused Roehampton Club has a Mature Movers class on the timetable.
With estimated growth of the wearables market slashed from 60 percent to 25 in 2016, and an ever-increasing awareness of the dangers of too much screen time – brought to the fore with Bill Gates’ recent confession that he banned his children from having mobile phones until they were 14 – demand for low-tech ways of achieving physical and mental balance looks set to rise.
Launched in 2014 and boasting a five-star rating on the iTunes store, the Forest App gamifies the challenge by allowing users to plant a virtual tree which grows while they refrain from touching their device but quickly withers away if they succumb to the lure of emails.
Canny wellness travel startups are also getting in on the action. Eco-friendly off-grid event Restival was inspired by Caroline Jones’ horror that fellow commuters would continue to stare at their smartphone screens when underground with no signal. And, Time to Log Off runs retreats in the UK and Italy where adults and teenagers pay to have their devices locked away for up to a week.
The company’s Founder Tanya Goodin also promotes a 5:2 “digital diet”, encouraging people who want a healthier relationship with technology to invest in an alarm clock and dig out a camera to help them stick to the plan.
There are still challenges. Boutique fitness studios and healthy restaurants can feel tempted to promote an “Instagram everything” culture to help grow their reputation. And brands are reluctant to be seen as telling their customers what to do, strict digital detox policies may struggle to make it into the mainstream anytime soon. But startups willing to enforce them could certainly build a loyal tribe.
Fast-growing international ed-tech platform ClassDojo, which launched in 2011 in the US, penetrating 90 percent of the country’s primary school market five years later, unveiled a move into children’s mindfulness in May 2017. Announcing the collaboration with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, it was also revealed that 70 percent of teachers and parents think students should be learning about emotional wellbeing.
Last year wellness tech trailblazer Headspace, recently valued by Forbes at $250m, took up the mantle too, and launched three children’s versions of their apps, targeting age groups from the under-fives to twelve-year-olds.
Yet, as parents become increasingly concerned about the impact of too much tech on developing minds (see above), offline solutions also look set to be well received. Innovative Oxford-based startup Empowerment Education, for example, combines martial arts and fitness classes with classroom-based emotional resilience training.
And market research company Technavio has estimated the global private tuition industry is growing at 7 percent per year, highlighting families’ willingness to pay hourly rates for further education opportunities, and suggesting a big gap in the market.
Any brand that can succeed in emphasising the performance benefits to children as successfully as innovators in the workplace wellness space have for adults, look set to reap the rewards.