The global coronavirus pandemic has only heightened consumer interest in wellness. Home-bound consumers will be hyper-focused on optimizing personal health both physical and emotional in 2021. Here, five key trends expected to shape the space in the coming year.
The Hygiene Category
Who would have guessed that hand sanitizers would be 2021’s hottest product category? Luxury brands like D.S. & Durga have launched their own, and major retailers are getting on board. Merci Handy, a rainbow-themed hand sanitizer brand with a sizable TikTok following, is soon to launch on ultabeauty.com. This month, Nordstrom is launching a hygiene category, starting with the rollout of skin-care brand Curie’s hand sanitizer to about 100 doors.
Wellness apps, offering consumers virtual experiences in everything from nutritional counseling to meditation to sleep tracking, have taken off during the pandemic. In October, visits to WeightWatchers — or WW, as it is now called — online portal surged 70 percent, according to data from Jeffries. The company’s app is said to have seen a significant increase in sign-ups during the pandemic. The latest wellness app to gain funding is Wellory, which pairs consumers with nutritionists to offer on-demand, personalized diet advice and coaching, and was founded by 28-year-old Emily Hochman, a certified health coach. The company recently raised $1.2 million led by a slew of venture capital firms as well as executives from Google, Amazon, Bridgewater Associates and Glossier.
The Affordability Factor
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A return to luxury gyms and boutique fitness classes in 2021 is unlikely. With many consumers out of a job or working from home due to COVID-19, on-demand fitness platforms have risen in popularity, and most are significantly more affordable than in-person classes. Take The Class, for instance — Taryn Toomey’s cult workout experience that charged $40 a class before the pandemic at studios in New York, Los Angeles and Vancouver. During COVID-19, Toomey’s virtual platform, which gives users access to a weekly schedule of livestreams for $40 a month, has risen so much in popularity that The Class is shifting its business model to focus primarily on its virtual offering. Other fitness platforms include Obe, $27 a month or $199 for an annual subscription, and Melissa Wood Health, $9.99 a month. As the pandemic continues, consumers are becoming more accustomed to paying less for fitness experiences. For those who have returned to the gym, many are opting for value chains. “We heard memberships at Blink are up as of pre-COVID-19, and Planet Fitness traffic trends are steadily rising off their lows,” said Randy Konik, managing director at Jefferies.
Spend time at any spa trade show, and you’ll notice that wellness retreats have been trying to make the concept of “digital detoxing” — spending time away from technology and social media — a thing for the past few few years. Millennials and Gen Z, thanks to COVID-19-induced anxiety and this year’s ominous Netflix documentary, “The Social Dilemma,” might be finally ready to make it happen. “More and more, I hear young people talk about really wanting to figure out how to go through a digital detox and if they come back to social, figuring out how to approach it in a more healthy mind-set,” said Ben Bennett, founder of beauty incubator and investment platform The Center. “COVID-19 has made people rely on social media but it has exacerbated and accelerated their anxiety.” If a vaccine becomes widely available and makes travel more accessible at some point in 2020, he predicts a that young consumers could gravitate towards to old-school wellness retreats. “I think we’ll see a surge of experience retreats intended to cater to younger people and help them separate and reset their perspective on social media.”
Wellness at Home
With consumers traveling less and obsessing over cleanliness and hygiene, they are becoming increasingly interested in purifying the home. “It’s this idea of wellness and atmosphere at home, and taking a more holistic approach,” said Lucie Greene, futurist and founder of The Light Years Consultancy. Greene ticked off air and water purifiers and scents that can sync with mood or promote a sense of wellbeing with fragrance as items that consumers will gravitate toward as the pandemic rages on. Home fragrance grew 21 percent in the third quarter according to The NPD Group. Brands are heeding the call for home scents with launches such as The Laundress x Aromatherapy Associates, which includes products such as the Deep Relax Signature Detergent, $45.