yoga

In beauty and beyond, consumers are increasingly focused on filtering in wellness to every aspect of their lives. Now worth $4.2 trillion, according to the 2019 Global Wellness Summit report, the wellness industry has caused a shift in overall consumer behavior including shopping across all categories.

And consumers are not only spending on products but wellness experiences as well, and often these go hand in hand. For example, Peloton owners are also subscribing to a monthly app which increases the staying rate.

“Wellness” has proven to be a broad term in which consumers are self-defining on how to apply it to a personalized lifestyle, ranging from an emphasis on fitness, diet, beauty and mental health. Many consumers consider multiple or all factors, carefully curating which new products to buy.

Here, Nikki Baird, vice president of retail innovation at Aptos Retail, talks to WWD about the opportunity every retailer has to recast itself as a wellness-enabler.

WWD: How has wellness evolved into and across all industries?

Nikki Baird: Retailers and brands have an opportunity to be really creative in their approach to wellness. Fashion “wellness” isn’t just about fitness apparel. For example, it can be about organic materials or no chemical dyes.

Personalization of products will continue to be a big driver of the beauty industry. In the home, it might be much more about creating “serene” or mental-health spaces that are relaxing or meditative. This could also mean freshening up your living room in order to feel happy about the place where you live.

WWD: What can brands learn from the beauty industry’s evolvement in the wellness space?

N.B.: With beauty, this is a more interesting one. You can find a lot of references to “detoxing” the skin, or “loving your natural hair” — but also about preventing aging or sun damage. [Beauty brands] have been very aggressive in pursuing personalized skin care and evaluative tools that help consumers identify their skin’s needs and how to address them, and consumers seem very interested in that. 

WWD: How has wellness presented itself in the in-store experience?

N.B.: [For example], Lululemon and Athleta are holding yoga classes in their stores, where the products enable the experiences. These brands have invested to make the distance between the two – the product and the experience – as short as possible. [Whereas] Barney’s opened a “wellness” store in Los Angeles that was probably the most high-end pot shop ever seen, but they’ve since closed it down. Saks has experimented with spa floors in its flagship stores where the whole floor is dedicated to wellness.

WWD: How can brands, that may not be true wellness brands, appeal to these wellness-seeking consumers authentically?

N.B.: For brands that are not authentically tied into the wellness space, they need to be careful about how they approach it. This is critical. But sometimes wellness is as much about avoiding things that make you unwell as it is about embracing the things that promote wellness. At a minimum, brands need to make sure they don’t fall into being perceived as making it worse.

WWD: Why is it important that brands pay attention to this particular consumer behavior of seeking wellness?

N.B.: It’s important to note that this isn’t just a “mature market” trend, it seems to be more generational than regional. Younger generations are more interested in life hacking and maximizing wellness, no matter where they live.

You look at Aerie versus Victoria’s Secret. Aerie embraced body positivity and the wellness aspect of loving the body you have, whereas Victoria’s Secret did not. Victoria’s Secret, once the darling of fashion brands, has fallen hard, not entirely because of this perception difference, but certainly, it was a major contributing factor.

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