Everything is Wellness and Wellness is Everywhere

April 11, 2019By Behind the Shelf Blog, Culture of Wellness, Future of Retail

By Jen Johnston, CHHC, senior marketing services account manager, for the Culture of Wellness blog series

Personal wellness and self-care has been on my radar since my teen years. In the mid- to late-90’s, I spent an unreasonably large amount of time camped out in the self-improvement and alternative health aisles of the local bookstore. I’m sure the retailer was quite pleased when I actually procured some disposable income of my own and stopped using the bookstore as my own personal library. But I digress.

Back then, wellness books had a few different faces: there were the fitness and diet books and magazines, which were basically mainstream; there were self-improvement books (which I know some of you know could be a little “out there”); and there were books on natural and alternative medicine.

A lot was different back then — people learned about health trends from talk shows such as, Oprah and Dr. Phil, and lifestyle magazines such as Woman’s World, not the internet so much; natural products could be found at the local co-op, not mainstream mass stores; and exercise gear was the realm of a Dunham’s or Dick’s, not the grocery store.Wellness spelled out

And a lot of things were not wellness. Take vegetable gardening, for example. Gardening was either an enjoyable hobby or a budgeting necessity, but it was not wellness. And grocery stores were places to procure food, not places where you met with your wellness coach. Department stores were places to buy clothing, not wellness hubs where you could purchase wearable health trackers.

Today, everything is wellness. Of course I don’t mean everything everything — you’d be hard-pressed to find someone claiming cheesy poof snacks equate to wellness, for example. However, wellness trends cross demographics, industries, retail channels, health modalities, and more. The culture of wellness is literally all around us, everywhere.

What this Quartzy writer says rings true to me, “During my five years working at Facebook, I watched wellness grow from a fringe interest for a mostly female audience to a multi-trillion-dollar industry encompassing nutritional supplements, on-demand massage, period-friendly underwear, CBD-enhanced teas, mushroom elixirs, and then some.”

Beyond those examples, I would say food tribes and clean makeup are part of the culture of wellness. And sustainable cotton t-shirts. And stainless steel water bottles. And wooden toys. And “natural” cleaning products; and Himalayan pink salt lamps; and hot yoga. It all falls under that wellness umbrella.

The moment I personally knew we were firmly entrenched in a new culture of wellness was the moment I saw Anheiser-Busch choosing to spend their big game dollars on a high-budget ad that blasted competitors who used corn syrup and positioned their light beer as a healthier alternative. The vice president of marketing for Bud Light said it was a great opportunity to, “introduce this concept of ingredient transparency.” Oh, did I mention transparency is wellness, too?

The dictionary defines wellness as the state of being in good health, especially as an actively pursued goal.  Take special note of the active part; wellness is definitely an experience. The rising culture of wellness is in part what allowed natural products to go mainstream.

In this blog series, we’ll discuss wellness trends — from natural products to wellness technology; from lifestyle diets to retail chemical policies; from certifications to Instagram influencers; from “better-for-you” toys to pet wellness — and discuss the implications for product manufacturers, retailers, consumers, and everyone else in the retail supply chain.

I hope you’ll join me over the coming months on digging into the culture of wellness. Innovative retailers and brands alike are seeing consumers through a new lens, one where they want to improve themselves and focus on self-care, and providing the items they need to do it.