Wellness is no longer an exclusive, top-shelf luxury reserved for those who can afford it.
We charted the evolution of health and wellness brands in our 2017 Well Economy report, but now even this distinction of a “wellness” brand is shifting. Today, everything from public spaces to interior design to transportation incorporates some aspect of wellbeing. This is indicative of the explosive $4.2 trillion global wellness industry, which is growing nearly twice as fast as the global economy, according to research from the Global Wellness Institute (GWI).
As the wellness industry continues to expand, new brands and platforms are transforming luxury offerings for the mass market. While there is still undoubtedly a market for these high-end luxuries (look no further than Goop for proof), a number of brands are working to remove prohibitive cost barriers and bring wellness to the masses.
Organic, natural and sustainable groceries are increasingly becoming an expectation rather than a luxury. Nearly half (49%) of US millennials say they now expect all products to be GMO free, while 43% expect organic, 53% expect natural and 64% expect sustainable, according to a survey conducted by SONAR™, Wunderman Thompson’s proprietary market research tool.
Companies such as Brandless, which launched in 2017, are already disrupting the grocery space with certified organic, vegan and non-GMO products priced at $3 or less. Direct to consumer startup Public Goods uses a similar model, offering low prices for premium products with a $59 yearly membership. The company, which originally launched as Morgans with a range of clean bath products in 2015, entered the grocery space in March 2019 with a line of organic pantry products including olive oil, pasta and granola.
Inclusive nutrition is now extending beyond grocery and pantry items to incorporate high-quality nutritional supplements at approachable prices. Bobbi Brown is working to bridge the class divide plaguing the wellness category in a new partnership with Walmart. Evolution 18, her line of wellness supplements, launched in over 1,500 of Walmart’s US stores and online in April 2019. The products include gummies, teas, pills and powders. Brown explained that the motivation behind the line is “not just about a product, it’s about a platform to educate consumers on health and wellness.”
In March 2019 Brandless also began branching into the wellness supplement category. New introductions include gut cleansing kits for $15, essential oils for $4 and organic gummy vitamins for $9. “Wellness truly is for everybody, so we’ve made it easier to access high-quality products for less,” the company explained. “Our latest supplements, vitamins, and superfood powders are simple additions to modern life.”
Inclusive baby care
A host of new brands are bringing this approach to the baby care category, democratizing premium baby products. In January 2019, Brandless expanded their offering to include premium diapers, organic baby food and clean and cruelty-free baby care products. The line, priced at $9 or less, supports Brandless’ ethos that better doesn’t have to cost more. “With this collection, we aim to lessen the need for parents to choose between the high-quality stuff they want and what they can afford,” said Brandless CEO and Co-Founder Tina Sharkey.
Two celebrity-led companies are also working to eliminate the cost barriers in the baby care category. Hello Bello was released in February 2019 by husband-and-wife duo Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard. Sold exclusively at Walmart, the brand offers high-quality organic and plant-based baby care at an affordable price. “It’s really unfair that most of the organic, plant-based products that are good to the planet aren’t cheap and they’re not available for everyone all around the country,” said cofounder Shepard. In contrast, Hello Bello’s products were created “to eliminate the choice many parents have to make [of] deciding between what’s best for their kids and what’s best for their budget.” The products – which include diapers, wipes, shampoo, laundry detergent and sunscreen – range in price from $1.88 to $23.94, with most priced under $8.
Once Upon A Time, launched in 2017 with help from cofounder Jennifer Garner, offers healthy and organic “farm-to-high chair” kids food starting at $2.99. The company is also working to make the products available to low-income parents who receive assistance through programs like USDA’s supplemental nutrition program and WIC, which provides federal grants to states for supplemental nutrition and education to women who are pregnant, nursing or have kids under five. “We’re disrupting the category,” said Garner. “We can’t just talk about feeding the top 10% of kids, or 50% of kids. We have to talk about how to give that nutrition to the bottom half.”
Public spas and baths are staging a contemporary comeback around the world, making old-school wellness traditions accessible and affordable to local communities.
In 2018, multisensory experience design studio Bompas & Parr created Paradise Now, London’s first “wellbeing playground.” Hosted by Belgravia’s Eccleston Yards for two weeks in September 2018, the outdoor urban spa offered visitors a pink mist waterfall enriched with energizing minerals, an immersive meditation zone with anxiety-reducing aromatherapy pebbles, and a light installation emitting a warm, soothing glow.
The spa even featured an electrolyte aqua bar, where visitors could sample “water cocktails” from around the world, served by a water sommelier. Harry Parr, cofounder of Bompas & Parr, describes the experience as an attempt to integrate spa culture into the everyday. Parr says the installation “not only showcases some of the leading trends in wellness but also offers access to them in a ground-breaking way, not as a special occasion or as a destination in itself but as part of a normal daily life.”
Hoping to emulate this low-key feel is Studio Puisto, which has designed a “neighborhood sauna” in Tampere, Finland. The design of the sauna is based on the traditional korttelisauna, made famous in the late 19th century as a space where the community would come to wash, gather and share ideas. “Above all, we wanted Tullin Sauna to act as a neighborhood sauna, a space that everyone in the local community could equally enjoy together,” Tuula Vitie, interior architect at Studio Puisto, tells JWT Intelligence. Studio Puisto hopes the complex will serve as a “communal living room” and has applied this social aspect to every part of the building, from the bistro serving local delicacies to the specially designed coworking space.
In March 2019, Lighthouse Health Plan hosted a wellness event for their members in Florida. The community-based Medicaid health insurance provider offered educational stations for the whole family. “Our goal is to engage our members and get them excited about healthy lifestyle choices,” said Amanda Bawn, Community Engagement Manager for Lighthouse. “We provide information and tools to empower our members to take their health into their own hands, always with our support.”