The $4 trillion reason so many companies are rebranding for wellness

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Welcome to Well.
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For something that was largely considered a fad less than a decade ago, the wellness industry is continuing to balloon. According to updated numbers from the Global Wellness Institute, the global wellness industry grew to be a $4.2 trillion market in 2017, up 12.8% from $3.7 trillion in 2015.

“Personal Care, Beauty & Anti-Aging” is the industry’s largest sector, and accounts for almost $1.1 trillion in expenditures. The category’s growth is unsurprising: There’s an increasing overlap between the wellness and beauty industries, and in the past year the latter has fully pivoted towards skincare—which is dominated by the anti-aging category—and away from color cosmetics and makeup.

Among the bellwether businesses in this category are existing beauty giants that have moved towards skincare (L’Oréal, Estée Lauder), alongside newer players like Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness and lifestyle company, which doubles as an e-commerce platform for beauty, wellness, and anti-aging products and services. As of now, it’s valued at $250 million and is expanding internationally (this is in spite of criticisms that Goop peddles products based on pseudoscience, and recently settled a $145,000 consumer protection lawsuit over one of its most infamous items, “yoni eggs” meant for the vagina).

The second biggest sector is “Healthy Eating, Nutrition & Weight Loss,” which accounts for $702 billion of the market, per the institute. It makes sense, therefore, that weight loss companies and programs are rebranding towards wellness and “holistic” approaches to health, rather than focusing marketing purely on weight loss. A recent example of this (mostly superficial) rebranding move came from the company formerly known as Weight Watchers, which announced in September that it would henceforth be known as “WW,” alongside the new tagline “Wellness That Works™.” With the change, WW rolled out several wellness-related features, including some that are not directly related to weight loss (a partnership with meditation app Headspace, and a “healthy habit” program for users who don’t want to focus on weight loss), but the core Weight Watchers program and its metrics of success or failure remain intact.

Indeed, it’s no surprise that other, more niche industries are attempting to align themselves with a growing demand for wellness. The Glossy reports that over the past few years, the wearable industry—which previously focused on performance—has pivoted towards a more holistic approach to health. New brands like Bellabeat, Oura, and Motiv have the usual sleep and pedometer functions, but also offer things like guided meditation and menstrual tracking. Likewise, sex products are rejiggering their offerings—like vaginal washes and lubes—to address sexual and personal health. New formulations by companies like Nécessaire are aligning with wellness by adhering to “clean beauty” standards by like only using natural, non-irritating, and pH-optimized ingredients. The legal weed industry is also adopting the branding and language of wellness to sell products.

In any case, the wellness industry itself does not seem to be slowing down: its expenditures are over half as large as total global health expenditures ($7.3 trillion), and it alone accounts for 5.3% of global economic output. Still, it remains to be seen whether jumping on the wellness bandwagon will serve parallel industries in the long term.