How to make wellbeing your profitable future

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Inside Franchise Business: wellness is a growing industryYou have probably heard the term “wellness” being bandied around. It’s a phenomenon that globally is stacking up the dollars: the global wellness economy in 2015 was worth US$3.7 trillion, according to the latest Global Wellness Economy Monitor from the Global Wellness Institute (GWI).

But what does it mean? What is wellness, and how can you get a piece of the wellbeing pie?

It is obviously concerned with health; it is considered to be self-directed, holistic, positive and affirming. The monitor describes wellness as “the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health”.

A quick check of the institute’s website will reveal a long list of alternative therapies, treatments and activities that contribute to the sector, including acupuncture, aromatherapy, chiropractic, exercise, hydrotherapy, massage, nutritional counselling, Pilates, sauna, stress management, tai chi, workplace wellness and yoga.

Traditionally we would think of a wellness sector being focused on boosting health and fitness, but increasingly the definition is expanding to even include the building of wellbeing communities.

The GWI is looking more deeply into the idea of wellness communities and lifestyle real estate, suggesting there are ways to adopt a wellness approach across the building and design sectors.

For instance, gyms and spas are significant pillars of the wellness living trend, but there has been a major shift in the industry to offer a total wellness package that encompasses and is judged on quality but offers more ethereal elements like air, water and light as well as food, sleep and acoustic quality.

The global market for homes and neighbourhoods designed and built to maximise the physical, mental, social and environmental health of residents and the community reached $119 billion in 2015, says the GWI.

Lifestyle strategies

Another US organisation, the National Wellness Institute (NWI), shares the aims of promoting optimal health but by developing strategies that encourage healthy, balanced lifestyles. The NWI outlines six dimensions of wellness:

  • Occupational
  • Physical
  • Social
  • Intellectual
  • Spiritual
  • Emotional

It is clear that a narrow view of what wellness means no longer provides the best perspective.

At its heart, wellness equals simplicity, suggests the GWI. Going back to basics with a focus on human connections to counteract increasing loneliness, it says trust, green space and healthy food will set us on a path to improved wellbeing.

Looking at the global wellness economy, the biggest category is the $999 billion beauty and anti-ageing market which is significantly ahead of the second sector, healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss ($684 billion).

Wellness tourism accounts for $563 billion in revenue, just ahead of fitness and mind/body at $542 billion, and preventive and personalised medicine and public health ($534 billion).

Complementary and alternative medicine has revenues of $199 billion, ahead of wellness lifestyle and real estate ($119 billion). The remaining three sectors are the spa industry ($99 billion), thermal/mineral springs ($51 billion) and workplace wellness ($43 billion).

These figures, from the GWI, show the wellness economy grew by 10.6 per cent between 2013 and 2015, with its revenue representing more than 5 per cent of all global health expenditures.

As the sector is traditionally seen as a high-end offer, the GWI suggests the next step is improved wellness for middle- and lower-income individuals.

All this suggests there are opportunities for franchise businesses, so here is a deeper dig into where the revenue is coming from, in sectors relevant to the Australian market...

Spas: In the Asia-Pacific region, 38,819 spas generated $21.4 billion income between 2013 and 2015. More spas opened in this region than anywhere else in the world during this time, and Australia had the fastest-growing average annual growth rate at 36.7 per cent.

Tourism: Wellness tourism grew more in 2013-15 than standard tourism (6.8 per cent annually against 3.4 per cent). This includes wellbeing-focussed accommodation, food and beverages, shopping, activities and excursions, as well as transport and travel services.

Travellers made 691 million wellness trips in 2015, and because of their high-spending tendencies, accounted for 15.5 per cent of all tourism expenditure.

A wellness tourist could be either someone for whom the entire trip is focussed on wellness, or who will undertake wellbeing experiences as part of the trip.

Workplace: The need for governments and employers to boost employee health and wellness will create opportunities for associated businesses, GWI predicts. In 2015, less than 10 per cent of the global workforce had access to workplace programs and services.

Real estate: Wellness lifestyle and real estate is poised for fast growth, with increasing interest in holistic communities.

The future

The GWI predicts the big growth sector to 2020 will be wellness tourism, predicted to reach a global revenue of $808 billion – that’s annual growth of 7.5 per cent. Spas could grow by 6 per cent, drawing in $103.9 billion by 2020.

10 sectors to consider

  1. Fitness centres, gyms and personal training
  2. Healthy eating and nutrition
  3. Home building
  4. Hotels and accommodation
  5. Massage
  6. Medical services, such as physiotherapy
  7. Outdoor sports activities
  8. Spas and salons
  9. Yoga
  10. Sleep programs and aids
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