America: land of the free and home of the brave. It is also home to a population where 67 percent of adults are either overweight or obese. As obesity rates have increased so has prevalence of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, all leading causes of death in the United States. However, the decrease in Americans health status has inspired a widening market for wellness. The wellness industry is currently a 3.4 trillion dollar business with prevention, weight loss, nutrition, and alternative medicine leading the top growing sectors. It seems to be not just influencing, but shaping the future of other markets. (Cloos et al, 2012) The corporate, retail, media, and technology industries are just a few that seem to be responding and benefiting from the wellness movement.
Wellness Is Changing Consumer Behavior
A recent report by Mckinsey & Company found that 96 percent of American adults use the internet to research health information. (Bughin, 2011) These internet searchers discover a plethora of different ways to improve health and wellness. Many consumers are becoming more accepting of alternative forms of medicine from herbal remedies and essential oils to acupuncture and yoga. Recent estimates suggest the industry of alternative medicine will bring in $115 billion dollars of revenue by 2015. (Alternative Medicine Statistics, 2014) The herbal supplement industry alone is estimated to produce $105 billion. Improvements in technology allow consumers to access to a variety of wellness related resources, resources unavailable a decade ago. Many Americans want to be healthy and are ready to spend their money on products and resources to do so.
Corporate Response To Wellness
Worksite wellness programs are becoming increasingly common as employers try to save on employee health care costs. Recent statistics conclude that 63 percent of companies in the US now provide some type of wellness program for its employees, and for good reason. Most wellness programs deliver a 2:1 return on investment. (James, 2013)
Perhaps a larger explanation for the recent increase in worksite wellness is recruitment and retention. Corporate companies from PwC to Google not only offer medical benefits to employees, but comprehensive wellness programs, often with cash incentives to participate. Wellness offerings are becoming a standard to business recruitment rather than a luxury. If retention is an issue, employers should consider implementing a wellness program. A 2011 report from Aon Hewitt found that, “A majority of workers (60 percent) think their company is only moderately-to-not-supportive when it comes to their efforts to be healthy.” (Mulvey, 2011) It’s no secret that unhealthy, unhappy employees are more likely to show absenteeism, presenteeism, and job dissatisfaction. When it comes to retention and recruitment, wellness programs can be a huge aid.
Retail Response To Wellness
Nutrition is one of the largest and most manageable components of wellness. As people seek to make healthier choices, they often make changes in their diet first. The food retailing industry has picked up on this trend and is making significant changes. Fast food chains and restaurants alike are offering healthier options to accommodate their more health conscious customers. Grocery stores are offering what are called “store tours” or specific labels to help consumers pick the best options for their health needs. (FMI survey report, 2013)
Sports nutrition and health food stores are becoming more common. This is due largely to the enormous growth of the organic food market which went from being a $1 billion dollar industry in 1990 to $30 billion in 2011, a whopping 3000 percent increase. Sales in the top health and wellness brands rose to more than $100 million in 2011. Sales of herbal remedies are estimated to double within the next decade. (Industry Statistics, 2011) As Americans progressively change their view on health and wellness, the profits will only continue to surge.
Media Response To Wellness
In more recent years several documentaries and TV programs focus on combatting the recent chronic disease pandemic, fueling the wellness crusade. Documentaries demonize the food industry and give visual proof of the ways the wellness industry is changing Americas view on health. Films such as Food Inc., Hungry for Change, and Forks over Knives have an agenda to drive consumers to make a change and invest in personal wellness.
Social media has had a tremendous impact on the growth of the wellness industry. Retailers, universities, and entrepreneurs are taking advantage of using social media platforms to promote wellness or sell a wellness product. The usage of fitness and wellness related aps on the Apple and Android markets have increased by 62 percent, double that of overall app use. (Khalaf, 2014) Long gone are the days when video games involved sitting on a beanbag in your mom’s basement for hours on end. The wellness industry, along with motion sensor consoles, have transformed even the most inherently lazy industry of gaming. Hundreds of games are workout based, and are marketed to the fitness devoted customer.
Overall Impact on Health
There is no question that the wellness industry is expanding, but only time will tell if it will make a significant impact on Americas obesity and chronic disease problem. Eradicating a pandemic takes slow progress and years to manifest. However, the wellness industry will give rise to thousands of new jobs in the coming years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predict a 23.2 percent increase of new jobs within the fitness industry alone in the next ten years. (Zabonick, 2013) One can only hope that the growth of the wellness industry translates not only into a wealthier, but also into a healthier America.
- Cloos, P., Ebrahim, S., Griffen, T., & Teichner, W. (2012). Healthy, wealthy and (maybe) wise: The emerging trillion-dollar market for health and wellness. Consumer and Shopper Insights. Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://mckinseyonmarketingandsales.com/focus/consumer-and-shopper-insights/
- James, J. (2013, May 16). Workplace Wellness Programs. New draft rules elaborate on Affordable Care Act provisions expanding employers’ ability to spur workers to improve their health. Health Affairs.
- Mulvey, J. (2011, November 22). Workers Want Employers to Help Them Stay Healthy. Retrieved November 10, 2014.
- Survey Report: Retailer Contributions to Health and Wellness. (2013). FMI Center for Retail Health and Wellness. Retrieved November 10, 2014, from http://www.fmi.org/docs/default-source/health-wellness
- Alternative Medicine Industry Market Research & Statistics. (2014, January 1). Retrieved November 10, 2014.
- Industry Statistics and Projected Growth. (2011, June 1). Retrieved November 1, 2014, from http://www.ota.com/organic/mt/business.html
- Zabonick, R. (2013, February 7). Fitness Industry Jobs Expected to See Substantial Growth. Club Solutions Magazine.
- Bughin, J., Corb, L., & Manyika, J. (2011). The impact of Internet technologies: Search. High Tech