Wellness – the positive effects of the pandemic

At the beginning of February we wrote about global consumer trends in 2021, the first of which was redefining health. The presentation of this area as the most important after a year of the pandemic probably comes as no surprise to anyone. On the one hand, we still have to comply with many restrictions, take better care of hygiene to reduce the possibility of virus transmission. On the other hand, we had a chance to look at health more broadly than just treating the symptoms of various (minor or major) diseases, we began to approach it more holistically. It’s no longer just about going to the doctor for advice when we have a problem, but taking general care of our own well-being on many levels.

We can observe the development of wellness for several years now. The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) in 2019 estimated it to be a USD 4.5 trillion market, and in the preceding years it grew twice as fast as the global economy on average.

We don’t yet have more recent data showing the value, but it’s worth looking at the already visible trends impacting consumers’ lives and decisions.

The pandemic year has shown us that well-being is not just about physical health, but also about our emotional and mental lives. Data from App Annie (a mobile app market analysis company) shows that the top5 app spenders in the health category included two related to mental wellness. The money was spent not only by consumers who needed support, but also by investors – the mental health area is, according to CB Insighs data, the only one in the health category that raised more funds in the first half of 2020 than the year before. The popularity of this area may also be evidenced by the association of the two apps mentioned by App Annie with large entertainment platforms. HBO Max together with Calm produced a series of short films “A World of Calm”, and Headspace joined forces with Netflix and since the beginning of 2021 we can watch 20-minute guides to meditation.

One of the topics that has made the Calm app so successful is sleep and true relaxation. After years of staying up late at night and taking pride in getting so much done (usually), we’re starting to see the value of preparing well for the night, quieting the mind and body before falling asleep. Pinterest reports that in the past year, searches for content related to exercise before bed have tripled, affirmations before bed have increased by 100%, and aromatherapy to improve sleep quality has increased by 80%.

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that digitization is taking over more and more areas of self-care. Consulting a doctor by phone or online, exercising with YouTube or a mobile app is pretty much an everyday occurrence after 2020. It’s worth watching startups and companies that are taking digitalization and its benefits to a new level.

An example of one company that has benefited from the pandemic is Peloton. Before 2020 it was associated mainly as a supplier of stationary treadmills or bikes equipped with a monitor. The past year has allowed it to showcase its full value proposition, which is a rich subscription offer of instructor-led workouts that can be done at home. In late December, Peloton even teamed up with Shonda Rhimes (hello to all you “Grey’s Anatomy” fans) and together they created a diverse exercise program. The company closed 2019 with 511,000 subscribers; a year later, it had over a million. The stock’s value on the exchange rose from USD 32 to USD 152 during that time. But exercise subscriptions are nothing compared to the ability to collect data and process it to offer us personalized treatments or supplements. Remrise is an example of a startup that will help us diagnose the cause of our sleep problems and provide a supplement to help.

The above-mentioned areas or ways of taking care of ourselves are of course only a small part of the entire wellness category. It also includes nutrition and paying more attention to products that have a positive impact on our immunity or mood, cosmetics that not only take care of our bodies but also provide the pleasure we crave in a time of so many constraints. Brands which at first thought we do not associate with this area at all can also build experiences here.

IPSOS asked consumers in China what factors influence their decision to buy a car – the most important was the configuration that allows to take care of health (proper air conditioning and use of antibacterial materials). The financial industry can support customers in taking care of more peace of mind in an uncertain world, or help them dream and plan for pleasures they can afford when things get back to normal (such as putting money aside for a beautiful trip).

Over the past year, we’ve learned a lot of new things – how to work remotely, how to learn through Teams, how to bake bread and cook the foods we liked to eat in restaurants. The restrictions combined with a lot of stress, uncertainty also made us take more care of ourselves. For brands, this is a great opportunity to look for opportunities to help consumers improve their lives – from adding confidence in health topics to providing small pleasures that make the day better.