Virtual exercise classes, homemade smoothies, lunchbreak walks, and telehealth doctor visits are just a few of the ways the pandemic has changed how consumers stay healthy.
But they aren’t the only ones shifting course—brands, healthcare organizations, and the wellness industry as a whole have also had to evolve to fit into this new landscape. With so much change happening so quickly, trends that once seemed far off are now right under our noses.
To discuss these trends and the future of the category, Buxton recently hosted a roundtable conversation with top industry thought leaders, including representatives from Self Esteem Brands, AdventHealth, FYZICAL Therapy & Balance Centers, and Restore Hyper Wellness.
Here are four takeaways.
The Definition of Wellness is Evolving
Wellness as a concept is shifting away from a healthcare-only approach. The definition has expanded from a clean bill of health from a doctor to a holistic, proactive, consumer-initiated experience that includes physical, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. Because of this, the wellness industry has begun to skew more retail than healthcare.
In a trend reflected across the whole healthcare landscape, the act of patients viewing themselves as consumers has brought the element of choice into the playing field. Consumers choose the type of care they receive, where they receive it, how they receive it, and wellness is no different. They decide between gyms and fitness centers, at-home or in-person exercise classes, the physical therapist their doctor referred them to or the one their neighbor recommended, and so many other things.
Consumers are taking their wellness into their own hands, which has in turn made wellness more accessible.
Digital Will Never Completely Overtake Brick-and-Mortar
Like many other industries, the pandemic pushed wellness into the virtual space. But also like many other industries, wellness was already headed in that direction—COVID simply accelerated the process.
For gyms, which were considered non-essential and closed in many locations, virtual options, such as streamed classes and other at-home workouts, were the only ways they could continue operating.
But for physical therapy offices, which could easily incorporate telehealth offerings, and specialized clinics, which remained open, the pandemic turned out to be “a blessing in disguise” that fostered growth and improved accessibility.
Even so, with widespread reopenings and fewer mandates, people are returning to in-person visits to gyms, fitness centers, physical therapists, and wellness clinics for the community aspect. The comradery of an in-person Zumba class, for example, or the relationship built with a physical therapist in face-to-face appointments can be difficult to achieve virtually.
This is why brick-and-mortar will never truly disappear.
Horizontal and Vertical Integration are Becoming More Prevalent
Consolidation is happening across the board—both vertically and horizontally. Within supply chains, organizations are acquiring the businesses that create and test the specialized equipment they use. Under this model, some corporate franchise locations also tryout new options, modalities, and features before rolling them out to non-corporate sites.
Because it’s not possible to be everything to everyone, many wellness organizations have also acquired or partnered with complementary concepts to fill gaps in their offerings. This could be a fitness center at a physical therapist’s office or a health system, or having nutrition counseling available at a fitness center. With business relationships like these, the goal isn’t for partners to compete, but to accentuate the work of the other.
Analytics are the Key to Success
Impactful and directionally accurate analytics are crucial to every type of wellness organization to remain competitive at every stage.
Whether an organization’s goal is to attract more consumers, identify territories for expansion, evaluate independent locations for acquisition, validate property potential, or navigate any other stage of the growth process, analytics will set you up for success.
Afterall, even if your organization isn’t using analytics, your competitors will be.
The Bottom Line
Staying on top of trends—such as how the concept of wellness is evolving and why brick-and-mortar locations are still important in a digital world—is one of the best ways to keep your organization ahead of the game.
But using customer data and analytics is how you can set the trends.
To learn more about how you can get started on your analytics journey, check out our blog, “How Mobile GPS Data Can Take You Where You Want To Go.”