Wellness, or in simple terms living a healthy lifestyle is not cheap these days. From the ‘athleisure’ trend of wearing printed tights which are likely to set you back a cool $150, to the pressed juice which is around $13 a pop and a reformer Pilates class costing around $30 a session, this lifestyle racks up quite an expense. These purchases are symbols of the new luxury, consuming the middle class of society around the world through wellness.
So why are so many of us buying into it?
Scarcity rules the food chain
As humans it’s in our nature to want what is rare, and have ownership of it’s prized qualities. The wellness industry has reached new heights and is now worth almost 1.9 billion in Australia alone according to Ibis World. This is at least in part due to the invocation of the scarcity principle where hot demand has tipped supply by convincing the masses that ‘superfoods’ like chia and goji berries contain rich antioxidants not found elsewhere. While demand poses concerning ethical questions by shifting supply from under-developed nations such as Peru, it also sheds light on our inherent desire for things that are rare.
We want a quick fix, even though we know real work takes effort.
Being in on secret is a recipe for driving demand. Although the wellness industry has spruiked demand from fashion to superfoods, they are not the first to so. Apple is widely regarded as scarcity experts, managing to increase the price of each generation of iPhone by withholding supply and linking their technology to creativity and ideas of greater good.
While I’m no advocate of manipulation, it’s clear that scarcity motivates the products and services we purchase. Scarcity when used strategically, has power to shift the industries we engage with and the overall demand for your business as we all want what they’re having.
Affluence is all about experiences
Conspicuous consumption, as in buying and bragging about big ticket items ain’t cool. The new cool is all about leisure by showing off that you actually have time to take part in a yoga class and aren’t glued to your keyboard in an office block.
Fifty years ago it was a house, five years ago it was a Celine bag and now it’s a pressed juice.
The rise of social media in particular has shifted our notions of value. Instagram and Snapchat both offer in-the-moment updates of how we are spending our leisure time. Top ranking hashtags including #fitfam, #food and #yoga are testament to this, with millions of uploads featuring women (and men) hoping on the yoga mat or cooking up a chickpea and lentil feast to hungry, dewy-eyed Gen Y & X in pursuit of holistic health.
If we’re not richer then where is the money coming from?
Buying an apartment for most Australians is now so out of reach that most of us are only nearing a deposit in our mid to late thirties. This reality has shifted us from a culture of saving to a culture of spending on every-day luxuries. "It's definitely being used as a status symbol," confirms Professor Rohan Miller from University of Sydney Business School. "People are investing in themselves as a product. As well as having the flash outfit, they want to have the flash body that goes with it”. We want everyday wealth felt through experiences. Saving for decades is boring and doesn’t fulfil our need for instant gratification which has been amplified in a chaotic, competitive world of social media.
To engage with the new affluent, the benefit of the experience had with your product or service must to be paramount and preferably promoted on social media. What’s on offer needs to be sharable and must tell a story of enhancement, in every sense.
Minimalism is dead, essentialism is on the rise
We’re all operating in a state of overwhelm.
The internet is everywhere - it’s in our pockets and strapped to our wrists leaving us lost and confused. Design has responded to this state of mind by simplifying our choices through branding.
The wellness industry is showing us that we’re happy to pay a price for brands that will curate and clarify our choices and make us feel great in the process.
Simple is open, open is trustworthy.
This trend started with a return to minimalism where design was raw and stripped back. The wellness industry has taken this a step further by introducing essentialism which cultivates feelings of warmth and satiation. Across the board, packaging produced by wellness businesses is both high-end and vintage in look and feel.
Take Aesop, the beauty giant whose packaging is inspired by medicinal potions from the past. A smaller Australian brand, Pukka Teas is experiencing incredible growth by designing around keep-ability rather than disposability, so the pack of tea could proudly be left on the counter and shared online. This strategy works two-fold; it increases joy for the end-user and keeps it in-sight, resulting in more eye-balls on the product and more potential buyers.
At the heart of wellness is community
If there is one thing the wellness industry has absolutely nailed, it’s community.
Wellness gurus and their ‘tribes’ are almost reaching celebrity status, guiding their sticky customer base with daily doses of inspiration delivered via social media. Twenty-five-year-old Kayla Itsines and her 10 million strong community of ‘Bikini Body Girls’ across the globe is pretty impressive for a personal trainer from Adelaide.
Her success boils down to a feedback loop of inspiration, tracking and sharing of accomplishments which for the new affluent is totally OK to brag about.
Because improvement is commendable, it’s sharable.
Kayla’s relentless positivity and encouragement makes girls feel comfortable to share their progress and feel empowered to take part in her community. Getting the body, you want might be the end goal, but for some, membership alone might be enough. “Feeling like your part of an elite group—that’s a huge purchase motivator,” says Larry D. Compeau, professor of marketing and consumer psychology at Clarkson University. It’s the reason why American Express’ Black Card program has been such a success.
While millions of followers aren’t necessary for success, a tight-knit community powered by honesty, positivity and daily connection is. Find and promoting what’s scarce, by offering sharable experiences and using simple branding so your brand is the obvious choice.
Feeling good. That just might just be the ultimate luxury.