Although the future of retail is almost automatically associated with some sort of technology development such as augmented reality or artificial intelligence, this is still far from being the only direction that consumers are looking at in terms of deepening engagement with brands. As wellness is a vital part of a sustainable future, it seems fair enough that our Green edition discusses how the growing interest and desire of all generations to interconnect the body, spirit and mind is playing an absolute game-changing role in how retailers portray themselves and immerse consumers through the use of well-being hubs.
Such interest in health as well as in this holistic state of being does not only represent a strong trend amongst all industries, with many head offices beginning to include this within their office design, but it also shows a massive shift in the perception of what “feeling good” now means in consumers’ minds. As Jack Ma, founder of the giant online retailer Alibaba, stated during a summit earlier this year, “owning the most expensive or the latest goods has taken a back seat to looking good and feeling good.” In other words, materialism and consumerism are increasingly old-fashioned concepts and are being replaced by the need of experiences, which is expected to promote one’s welfare.
With this booming lifestyle concept and taking the significant growth and rising potential in the fitness sector in the UK into account, it is forecast to surpass £3bn in 2018; we can confidently say that there is plenty of room for all brands and businesses to explore the different paths that the wellness trend can lead them down. With plenty of potential growth for them too. The British activewear brand Sweaty Betty, for example, has recently implemented an interesting range of in-store workout classes, ranging from yoga to boot camp. This simple but smart feature not only caters to their health-focused customers at an experiential level, but it also reflects the brand’s ethos and generates impulsive sales. Although the classes are for free, the payoff for the brand (in theory) goes beyond impulse buys and is the ongoing loyalty of participants – with Sweaty Betty at the forefront of their mind every time they need new sports gear. Another quick point to be made from a marketing perspective is that Sweaty Betty made sure to bring such concept into their website as work-out videos, offering you a virtual experience just in case you can’t make it to their shop. You can still work out from home… and possibly purchase a new fitness outfit.
It does sound like a win-win, right? So traditional and product-orientated retailers… Watch out, because it is just the beginning:
In London, there is a fast evolving market where athleisurewear brands and gyms are centralising fashion, fitness and health into an even more immersive experience with a prospective to become the new hubs for the health-o-holics.
James Duigan, wellness innovator and author of seven books, has launched Bodyism; a London-based space or “wellness hub”, which is also expanding to a selection of three resorts around the globe. Here members can achieve a “higher state of wellness” as described by the Bodyism team itself. Considered a revolutionary approach to well-being, the centre offers a full consumer experience around the brand’s ethos that has been crafted and built upon from the time they were solely an independent sportswear retailer. Now the hub consists of a healthy café, with the menu taking inspiration from their “Be Kind to Yourself” philosophy, as well as treatments with renowned specialists, fitness classes and, almost as an afterthought, its performance clothing line. The state-of-the-art members club has definitely stepped up and is becoming the ideal place-to-be for those who are interested in reaching their optimum health – or at least taking the first step towards a cleaner lifestyle.
Another aspect to this trend is its ability to unite like-minded people in spaces you would not necessarily expect. Community creation is an important role of the well-being industry, and smart businesses are tapping into this. From digital to real life, the #fitfam hashtag, an exciting online idea, resulted in physical businesses such as The South Kensington Club and a means of diversification for the renowned nightclub Ministry of Sound. The first, a private members club, draws on multicultural rituals to “promote fitness, health and the spirit of discovery”, and is also described as an inspirational retreat hub for a community with similar well-being goals. Ministry of Sound, in the other hand, may sound less exclusive; however, it brought its social nightclub essence into fitness and it not only counts on their loyal young clientele but also attracts other individuals who share similar health-related interests – and would be also happy to have an after-class drink.
Moreover, food, retail and health are coming together in attention-grabbing ways in this new, exciting well-being world: London’s “eat clean” restaurant The Detox Kitchen, Fitzrovia-based, is now offering yoga and pilates classes in its basement. Another inspiring example within this industry is the Yoga Brunch Club (the name says it all): Winding down and stretching out with pop-up yoga classes around London, with a plus of a well-earned brunch. The alignment of this sense of community with the wellness trend itself, as well as with the growing desire for unique experiences seem to be a golden opportunity for all industries to merge and act cohesively, and keep surprising us with outstanding improvements in experiential retail – and in our lifestyles too!