“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen”—although an overused quote during the pandemic, COVID-19 has proven Lenin right. It’s been and will continue to be a formidable accelerator and catalyst of existing trends. Here are several trends in the wellness space being fed by systemic connectivity.
One overarching trend that will enormously benefit wellbeing in the post-pandemic era: COVID-19 has made us much more aware of the critical importance of our own physical and mental resilience (an extrapolation of the “just-in-case” principle replacing the “just-in-time” obsession). A heightened need to feel physically and mentally well combined with a greater inclination to strengthen our immune system will ensure that wellbeing and all the sectors of the wellness industry positioned to help deliver it will emerge as net winners from the pandemic.
Wellbeing will be addressed holistically because we cannot be individually well in a world that is unwell. This means that planetary care will be as important as personal care—issues like air pollution, water management, and respect for biodiversity will become ever more paramount.
More digital wellness. A year ago, we were skeptical that digital could make a comparable significant and decisive foray into the wellness industry as it has in other industries. Our underlying reason for doubting was that wellness is the quintessential person-to-person business.
The pandemic has forced us to revisit our earlier assumption. Lululemon’s acquisition of Mirror (a digital, in-home fitness technology) for $500 million is the unmistakable sign that “digital everything” is winning. Mirror, which sells a wall-mounted screen priced at almost $1,500 plus a monthly subscription for streaming workout classes, has boomed during the pandemic, and ditto for Peloton, whose stock price has risen by more than 200% during the lockdown. The future of fitness may resemble that of education: hybridized.
Less meat. The infection of a meat processing plant in Germany provides a vivid example of how risks tend to amplify each other. In the pre-pandemic era, the global meat industry was already in trouble due to deep concerns about its environmental impact. Now, as it emerges as a hot spot for the virus, the appalling labor conditions in meat-processing plants are also being laid bare. This concatenation of an environmental risk with a societal one will exacerbate the troubles of the meat industry.
Superfoods that claim to boost immunity: The point above means that the “obsession” about wellness triggered (or amplified) by the pandemic will exercise a “halo effect” on many different categories of wellness activities. This ranges from the renewed interest in things as simple and obvious as walking (we’ve documented it on several occasions) to superfood fads.
As an example, turmeric, ginger and some other spices are enjoying a tremendous popularity bump as consumers search for food ingredients that will boost their immune system. In the 14 weeks to June 6, US retail sales of ginger rose 94%, turmeric 68%, and garlic 62% compared with the same period last year. Some analysts believe that part of this increase will become structural, i.e., a permanent feature on post-pandemic era shopping lists.
But note Dr. James Hamblin’s The Atlantic podcast, arguing that supplements claiming to boost the immune system aren’t always evidence-based and create a false sense of security.