Wellness is big. In fact, it’s absolutely enormous. Massive in the same inconceivably huge way as, say, space. Or the distance in time between us and the dinosaurs. Or the weekly number of ASOS deliveries to our London office.
It’s a market that, in 2017, was worth $4.2 trillion – a number which grew 13% between then and 2015 – and to which the UK is the fourth largest contributor.
But is it still expanding. What are the key emerging trends, and what do consumers really care about in health and wellness tech? These are the questions we aimed to pursue in the first of our Rooster Sessions, where we pitted a panel of expert journalists in front of a roomful of seasoned and up-and-coming brands with an interest in the wellness industry.
Our exceptionally talented and knowledgeable panel for the occasion comprised three stellar journalists and close contacts of Little Red Rooster. First up, James Day, Associate Producer of the Gadget Show and Editor at Stuff magazine. James was formerly the tech editor for the Metro newspaper, and also writes for such titles as design bible, Enki, and for Cloud, the luxury lifestyle magazine for the Air Charter Service.
Then we were graced by the effervescent presence of Lucy Gornall, Health & Fitness Editor for no less than nine different TI Media titles, including Woman&Home and Fit&Well. Lucy lives and breathes fitness – she is also a qualified personal trainer.
Last but by no means least, we were joined by Jonathan Margolis, Contributing Editor and technology writer for the Financial Times. Jonathan is a living legend of consumer tech media, a self-confessed futurologist, still always fishing for the latest tech trends while wading through a sea of electronic disappointments.
And what insight did this mighty media triumvirate offer to the enthralled throng? Let’s take a look at some of the key learnings.
Wellness tech is at a tipping point
We’ve already come 10 years since the launch of the first Fitbit, when counting steps seemed like a cutting-edge metric for fitness fanatics. Yet, those of us who work in or around the tech industry are in a privileged bubble. Most people don’t have any health or wellness tech – they might have only just bought a fitness band. The market potential is still huge.
This is particularly the case amongst baby-boomers, who have huge disposable income and are using tech to help them live younger lifestyles. Overall, people want to simplify and improve their quality of life, and this is driving the wellness market forward.
Consumers want quick fixes and expert guidance
People are looking for something that will transform them tomorrow, rather than long term. They want simple and effective solutions that are also affordable. In many cases, wellness tech needs to be stripped back to basics – not everything needs an app to do its job effectively.
Also, as the market grows and the choice of products increases, star-rated reviews by experts will remain important as part of a purchasing decision. Currently there’s a lot of emphasis put on influencer recommendations, but the influencer world is arguably becoming oversaturated – there are now so many of them that people are starting to believe them less.
Cut through the media noise
To get noticed by the media in this busy space, you have to start with a good, well-designed product. It’s also important that a wellness product is authentic and scientifically sound. If your company is new to the wellness space, you can gain some of that authenticity by partnering with an existing name in the health and fitness market.
Never underestimate the importance of colourways. Colours of products make a big difference to the decision of whether something makes it on to a page – the image has to grab an art director’s attention.
Good PR is also vital to telling the story. You need to know the target media, and make sure an email subject line is going to grab the journalist’s attention – good statistics or interesting listicles can do wonders.
Expected future trends
Smarter clothing is going to find its way into our wardrobes. Not necessarily app-connected apparel, but companies using advanced technologies to make clothes lighter, stronger and more versatile. However, connected trainers are already being sold without a price premium, so growth in that market seems inevitable.
Digestion and gut health will be more important, while calmness, meditation and breathing regulation are all seeping into everyday tech. Connected fitness classes are going to be huge, although they are currently still very US-focused.
Among the other things that excited our panellists were pet tech and whole-mouth automatic toothbrushes! Sign us up for all of the above.
The biggest learning of the day for us at Little Red Rooster, however, is that we absolutely can’t wait for the next Rooster Session.