How Retail Will Redefine Wellness

Fueled by health and environmental concerns, innovative ideas about aging, and better understanding about mind-body connections, wellness has become a US$4.2 trillion global market.

Retailers are well qualified to become consumers’ most trusted wellness advisors—but they’ll need new, innovative ideas to become leaders in a fragmented marketplace.

Retailers are using technology to deliver innovative, connected products that cross industries. 

The retail advantage 

The wellness market is highly fraught. Most consumers can’t verify that products or services are trustworthy and safe or that they work. 

Retailers have the expertise in marketing, personalization, and technology to become trusted advisors in wellness. 

They’ll combine disconnected activities, like grocery shopping, medical appointments, physical activity, and socializing, into holistic wellness experiences. 

The great connector 

Retailers are using technology to deliver innovative, connected products that cross industries. Advances in connective technologies, like 5G, create opportunities to link different wellness categories and spur creative partnerships across industries: 

  1. Virtual reality, augmented reality (AR), sensors, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning are enabling new products and experiences, such as interactive workout assistants synced to personal biometrics with live virtual instruction, surround-sound audio, and real-time community feedback. 
  2. As electric cars render traditional gas stations irrelevant, an architecture firm has created a concept for repurposing gas stations into wellness, fitness, and community centers that also generate power. 
  3. A U.S. retail pharmacy chain is helping people manage chronic conditions by providing health and wellness apps, connected monitors and other smart devices, and technology-enhanced weight management programs while offering in-person education about wellness services and products. 
  4. To help exercisers improve performance and overall health, an athletic apparel company sells running shoes connected to a nutrition app, a digital health tracker, smartwatches, and wireless headphones, all integrated through the brand’s digital fitness platform. 

Infinite possibilities 

Opportunities for retail to combine with other industries will get a turbo-boost from exponentially advancing digital technologies: 

  1. Fitness gear: Telemedicine-prescribed AR personal training sessions that call for sensor-integrated athletic wear and workout equipment to track progress offer opportunities for currently independent segments, like fitness gyms and active wear retailers, to converge. 
  2. Appliances: Wellness services can be offered through smart kitchens, perhaps in conjunction with manufacturers, helping track and facilitate food and supplement recommendations, health education, and wellness expertise supplied on demand. 
  3. Furniture: Products could monitor sleep, exercise, stress, and diet and offer AI-enhanced recommendations to improve overall health, such as a class at a branded meditation center. 

The wellness economy has nearly infinite potential for technology-driven combinations. Retailers must be alert to new ways consumers can tune their fitness, nutrition, and healthcare more precisely. Those that deliver customized experiences at scale will become partners in consumers’ wellness journeys.

Learn more about the growth of wellness

Read “How Retail Can Lead the Wellness Economy.”