From farm-to-table, to juicing to shakes, to essential oils, boot camps, spin and meditation, the health and wellness space is expanding rapidly—into the home into the workplace, and into live events.
The Fast Company Innovation Festival in New York City in October offered more than 30 sessions tied to wellness. One session, by SoulCycle, offered a special ride and Q&A with SoulCycle ceo Melanie Whelan and senior instructor Trammell. SXSW last year launched the SXSW Wellness Expo offering more than 100 exhibitors, content and classes. Consumer-focused wellness properties continue to expand, too, like Wanderlust, with its three subsidiary properties, and Livestrong’s Stronger Weekend event at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.
According to data from Statista, the health and wellness market in the U.S. reached $167 billion in 2017, and it was expected to increase by another $4 billion this year. Brands that have jumped in and embraced fitness-focused activations have experienced explosive growth of their programs over the last couple of years, too.
Take Propel Water, which wanted to differentiate itself from its athlete-focused Gatorade sister brand by engaging fitness enthusiasts. Two years ago the brand launched Propel Co:Labs, pop-up fitness events in L.A. and New York City. Due to popular demand, the program this summer morphed into a ticketed, nationwide fitness property—Propel Co:Labs Fitness Festival—that made stops in Los Angeles, Miami, New York City and Chicago. For $50, consumers secured their spots at the sold-out events (Invisible North, New York City, handles).
“The program really has grown in tandem with the rise of the fitness movement,” says Laura Barnett, brand director of Propel at PepsiCo. “We observed that fitness was becoming more and more fragmented as it grew, so everyone was finding their ‘tribe,’ whether it’s boot camp, boxing, people were finding their niche in the community, and what Propel intended to do with this platform is unite the community and pull people together under one roof who have one common love of fitness and working out. And really bringing an experience that is special and can’t be found anywhere else.”
And the results are paying off. “A person who attends a Propel Co:Labs Fitness Festival may come in with some awareness of the brand, but they leave 85 percent more likely to purchase Propel and their perception of Propel is improved as well, so we’re noticing the more people that we can connect with on this one-to-one level is really helping drive the modern point of view that Propel has in today’s fitness landscape,” Barnett says.
While beer brands typically latch onto major sporting events, Michelob ULTRA carved a niche for itself in the fitness space, where it has engaged health-conscious consumers in its low-carb, low-calorie light beer. “As our brand grows, we continue to expand beyond traditional sports to include today’s expressions of active lifestyle,” says Azania Andrews, vp at Michelob ULTRA.
Two years ago, the brand launched a fitness series surrounding happy hour, that gave consumers the chance to win a spot in one of three exclusive and unique fitness meetups, like a sunset paddleboard excursion and cruise. This year, the brand went all in with a weekend-long, exclusive fitness event, Michelob UTLRA Fit Fest, at the Marriott Camelback Inn & Spa in Scottsdale, AZ. Experiences included brain conditioning, outdoor adventures, collective training, parties and entertainment. Tickets ranged from $400 to $950 for a VIP package.
Headphones brand Jaybird aligned with the New York City Marathon in November, creating a mindfulness pop-up designed to launch its first Pro Series product, Tarah Pro, and engage influencers, media and, of course, athletes in town for the marathon (NA Collective, New York City, handled).
The brand partnered with app Headspace for guided meditations and virtual treadmill experience company Zwift to immerse consumers in the mental discipline of athletics, and demonstrate how its headphones, with a 14-hour battery life, can help them prepare their bodies and minds, via their ears. Ommmm.