The Seven Top Competitive Strategies For Health & Wellness Businesses

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Are you totally clear on how your wellness business will successfully compete?

Or do you mostly try not to think about it?

You’ve got seven competitive alternatives to choose from:

1) Toe to toe

You think your wellness programs are unique—and then you find out that your competition looks just like your business—same services, same prices, same target customer, same sales and marketing strategies.

Happens a lot. We’re good at convincing ourselves that we’re special—and then we find out that customers think we’re just like everyone else. Or that other businesses can easily copy what we’re doing.


The health club or yoga studio with the deepest pockets will outlast their competitors. Unless you’ve got the deepest pockets, a better choice: shift to one of the competitive strategies described below.

Example: all the yoga and Pilates studios that close within the first couple years, outgunned by a bigger studio.

2) Overwhelming force

Focus on your single greatest competitive advantage.

Is there a particular type of problem that you solve better than anyone else? Or maybe your business has a gift for marketing – it could sell ice cream to Eskimos. Or perhaps your gift is hiring staff who really connect with people.

Whatever it is, center everything—EVERYTHING—you do around capitalizing on that advantage.

Example: Amazon started selling books. Now it sells everything. What’s their competitive advantage? Technology designed to cross-sell and upsell.

Zappos started out selling shoes. Now it sells everything, too. What’s their competitive advantage? Amazing service.

Notice how both companies sell “everything”—yet their competitive advantages are different.

3) Strength in numbers

Don’t go it alone. Seek out strategic partnership and collaboration opportunities. Those might be with related health and wellness businesses—or with businesses outside this industry that have strengths your business can capitalize on.

Example: You sell a healthy lifestyle program for employees. You partner with benefits and employment consulting firms to reach more companies. You partner with orthopedic practices to make a healthy-weight program available to patients.

These guidelines will help you pick and choose the right strategic partnerships and structure a successful relationship.

4) Go upmarket

Provide incredibly appealing health and wellness programs and services to folks with money to spend, and price accordingly.


Keep in mind: everything you do should support this strategy. Discounts? Nope. Well-paid carefully chosen staff? Yep.

(These tips will help you think about the value customers actually see in your programs, and this discussion of how bottom-line-driven price increases will actually help you head down this path.)

5) Go downmarket

Drop your prices. Cut costs to the bone.

Example: Planet Fitness. Basic cardio—no Stairmasters, no AMT, no group exercise. Basic free weights and selectorized equipment. Exercise mats—let’s just say they were well-worn. Very well-worn. Lighting—industrial, and not  in a cool, downtown kinda way. Price—cheap.

There’s no shame in being the low-price leader in your community—IF you have the cost structure to match.

6) Against all odds

Focus on an underserved niche, specialize in a tightly-defined niche, zero in on a newly emerging need, or sell through a channel that’s new in your sector.

Example: the first company that thought of selling 15- and 30-minute chair massages…in airports!

Two gotchas:

It’s truly rare to find something that no one else is doing. If you think that’s you, the odds are good that you just haven’t looked hard enough.

Many wellness businesses think their Big Idea is unique. In reality, they’re yet another me-too business, selling the same stuff with the same marketing strategies as everyone else.

7) Have your cake and eat it too

Create programs and services that offer different levels of value—at different prices, with different cost structures.

Example: Offer an entry-level group weight loss program for $50/month. Offer the same program—plus individualized counseling and other high-value services—for $100/month.

Traps to watch for:

  • A low-end program that provides too much value won’t make money because your costs will outstrip your revenues.
  • A high-end program that provides too little value won’t make money because people won’t buy it.

Finally—if your business has reached a dead end—know when to say “enough is enough” and move onto something new.