Three Consumer Priorities & Their Impact On Wellness Businesses

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These three consumer trends are here to stay — and they’ll absolutely influence your wellness business.

1) Health-on-the-go

The crossover of health and convenience presents a huge opportunity for your business. It’s no surprise that consumers are extremely interested in improving their physical and mental well-being. Of course, all of you recognize this trend because you see it every day in your businesses.

What’s new is the emphasis on making it easier for consumers to actually do something about it.

New approaches make it far easier and more enjoyable to practice healthy living habits.

Prior approaches often required rigorous compliance with rules or programs that many people found unpleasant or simply impractical.

For example, 100-calorie portion-controlled packages of cookies are much more appealing to consumers than avoiding all carbohydrates, or swearing off Oreos altogether. And lifestyle activities, which we discuss next, are much more attractive to many consumers than structured workout routines.

Consumers today prize convenience.

Aren’t all of your customers looking for an extra 24 hours? Heck, even an extra thirty minutes would help.

Walk-in pay-as-you-go clinics at supermarkets and discount stores are booming. They’re not just for people without health insurance. They also appeal to people on the go who want to see a health professional immediately, in their neighborhood, without having to plan ahead for an appointment.

The recent emphasis on lifestyle activities appeals to convenience-minded consumers, too. Walking at lunch, for example, doesn’t require carving out extra time to go to the gym or work out with an exercise video. And activities like playing with kids and doing yardwork are much easier to fit into busy schedules than a gym visit.

Everyone’s thinking about healthy eating.

Convenient and healthy family meals are a priority. The surge in “meal preparation and assembly” businesses like Dream Dinners is an example. Customers travel to the Dream Dinners storefront, select the recipes they’ll prepare, assemble them using pre-chopped ingredients, and package them for final reheating at home. It’s easier – and healthier – than eating out or choosing heavily processed convenience foods.

Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

Focus explicitly on providing health and wellness programs and services that are genuinely convenient for your clients and customers. Don’t guess – ask them what would make it easier for them.

Is it absolutely necessary, for example, that they visit your office in person? Perhaps they could log food and exercise data on the internet rather than wasting time faxing it to you. If you have several clients clustered at one employer, perhaps you can arrange to meet them there.

Would adding evening or weekend hours be helpful to them? Is arranging childcare burdensome for them? Would offering prepared food ready for pick-up be valuable?

If you’re managing a wellness center or health club, wouldn’t you rather be more than just their gym? Customers would love it if your business were a one-stop shop for healthy living, whether they choose to practice it at your facility, at their home, in a city park, or a hotel room.

2) Sustainability

Many customers view environmentally-sensitive practices which sustain our natural resources very favorably. In fact, they often consider these business practices in their buying decisions even when they themselves drive gas-guzzling SUVs!

Americans are increasingly aware of the risks to our environment resulting from short-term thinking in areas ranging from agriculture to manufacturing. Examples include heightened interest in organic foods produced using sustainable farming methods, hybrid cars and biofuel.

Events like Hurricane Katrina underscore the importance of environmentally smart development that preserves trees and other natural structures which can moderate the effects of extreme weather. And right here in Texas, for example, it’s increasingly obvious that traditional water-thirsty landscaping just doesn’t make sense when extended regional droughts are the new norm.

Keep this priority in mind as you plan facility expansions and landscaping. Consider “green” building standards. Recycle where possible and appropriate. Look for opportunities to conserve electricity, fuels and water. Minimize packing materials where possible.

Important: remember to let your community and customers know about your efforts. You won’t get credit if no one knows you’re doing it.

3) Demographic changes

In a nutshell: the US is getting more ethnically diverse. The largest minority group is Hispanic people, followed by African-American people. However, non-Hispanic whites (for example, the classic “WASP”) are a minority in four states: Hawaii, New Mexico, California, and Texas.

Nationally, non-Hispanic white people make up about 67% of the US population, down from 70% in 2000. Over time, virtually every state and community will see a decline in this group and an increase in other ethnic backgrounds, both Hispanic and non-Hispanic.

Three things to think about:

Lifestyle and health concerns and practices vary by ethnic group.

Make sure that your staff is well-informed about the lifestyles and concerns of your potential and current customers. You don’t want them to assume that everyone’s lifestyle is like theirs. And people often substitute stereotypes when what they really lack is information.

Your sales, marketing and community outreach need to reflect where your community is headed, not where it’s been.

Check your community’s demographic trends and plan accordingly. Don’t assume that your Heartland location or your small-town environment means you’re immune to these demographic trends.

Successful programs and services will reflect the needs of your target customers.

For example, many immigrant families have younger kids, so kid-friendly services may be especially important. The church plays an extremely important social role for some ethnic groups, so faith-based programs focused on healthy living can be especially relevant.