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Wellness Has A New Meaning
It is today as much about a healthy body as a sound mind and soul. People know it. And they want it. From natural products to AI-enabled nutritionist, the industry has grown far and wide
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As the need for wellness to reach beyond the rich elite intensifies, wellness businesses that only deliver expensive leggings or massages will start to seem increasingly inauthentic. Today, there is a great need to go beyond the elite “ghettos” of wellness.
Recently, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first Health and Wellness Centre to mark the launch of the union government’s ambitious health assurance programme — Ayushman Bharat. The government aims to set up 1.5 lakh health and wellness centres by 2022. These centres will leverage on comprehensive primary healthcare through preventive and curative care.
“The wellness industry is rapidly growing in India and as well as all over the globe. This sector is not limited to elite people or luxury brands. There is tremendous scope. Ayurveda and yoga can become leading providers of this sector. Ministry of AYUSH is closely working with the ministry of commerce, tourism and MSME to capitalise on this opportunity,” says Dr Rajesh Kotecha, secretary of AYUSH ministry. Union minister of state for AYUSH Shripad Yesso Naik foresees a three-fold increase in the market size of ayurvedic products, from $2.5 billion to $8 billion by 2022.
The Indian wellness tourism sector is expanding at 22 per cent a year according to the Global Spa & Wellness Summit report. India ranked 12 among wellness tourism nations.
The space for luxury wellness hospitality is saturated, however Nikhil Kapur, owner of Atmantan Spa in Pune, feels that institutes and resorts offering two and three-star accommodation are and will be on the rise, and that wellness tourism will shift from high-end resorts to destinations where more authentic experiences can be found.
Sprirtual wellness retreats and joyshops are budding rapidly, feels yoga teacher Mini Shastri, wellness consultant and founder of Om Yoga Shala. “I see this leading to more sponsorships for conclaves, conferences and festivals all over India,” she says.
Wellness conclaves, women empowerment, healing our planet and ourselves and viewing one’s life vis-à-vis healthspan and not lifespan are some of the top trends says Dr Alok Chopra, a cardiometabolic, bioregulatory and lifestyle medicine specialist.
“Big organisations are responding to people’s needs and demands by belting out supplements, food products, personal care products etc., and are doing it with gusto. We have to sift out what is right and wrong information and get past pseudo-scientific nonsense to establish true ‘wellness ‘ information. Over the next 10 years, I foresee cutting-edge investments and research in genomics, nutrition, fasting, mitrochondrial health, gut microbiome, neuroplasticity of the brain, collagen wellness, green beauty boom and femtech empowerment. The demand for ethically sourced and natural products with a personal story is also on the up. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be on the rise too,” adds Chopra.
With conversational AI-enabled nutritionists such as Ria created by HealthifyMe, the future of AI in the business of wellness cannot be ignored.
HealthifyMe founder Tushar Vashisht believes there is a strong promise of growth in the digital health and fitness space in India.
“India’s top quintile with annual per capita income in excess of Rs 170K is 168 million, out of which 29 per cent are obese. This makes the total addressable market (TAM) for digital health and fitness applications to be at least 50 million Indians who currently spend $4 billion on health and wellness services with (another) $4 billion on health and wellness products. This number is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10-15 per cent over the next several years according to PwC andFICCI statistics,” he says.
“The future of the wellness business depends on infrastructure building and skillset updation. That is where business opportunities will arise too. There will be a rise in lifestyle coaches versus regular trainers who will help you manage all aspects of health and wellness,” says Vikram Bhatia, managing director, Fitness First India.
Corporate Wellness Cannot Be Ignored
“In the future, the sustainability of a business will depend increasingly on the well-being of its consumers and employees,” says Preetha Reddy, vice-chairperson of Apollo Hospitals.
The focus of corporate wellness is going to be on mental health. According to the Global Wellness Institute, with digital noise and connectivity reaching an all-time high, we will see a sharper focus on silence, mindfulness and nature.
Mindfulness coach Nithya Shanti feels that, “As the standards of living rise and we find ourselves increasingly surrounded by all kinds of modern conveniences, for many, the focus begins to shift from survival and socialisation needs to reflecting more deeply on their life experience.”
Psychiatrist Dr. Sanjay Chugh too has no doubt that it is the field of mental well-being that will witness maximum growth in the coming decade, not just because there is a huge need for it but this is the one field that is, to a large extent, automation-proof. This field hinges upon the ‘human factor’ and that is something that is going to be in great demand.
“One-stop wellness centres that will cater to all human needs, both of the body and mind will mushroom. They will be tended to by doctors who will attend to both the physical and mental needs using both medical and other non-medical ways to help,” believes psychiatrist Dr Anjali Chhabria, founder of Mind Temple.
Using coaches as support structures too will rise. Coaching as a form of wellness is growing rapidly and promises to evolve into an industry of its own.
According to business and executive coach J. P. Singh, “The Indian professional coaching industry is growing at a healthy 20+ per cent rate, and is poised to be over a Rs1,000-crore industry in 8-10 years.
There will be further acceleration with symbiotic collaboration of coaches directly with business leaders (as they understand the impact of coaching on revenues, employee engagement and business management strategies) and emergence of specialised niches at the coach-coachee interface.
Feeling, looking, and even doing good is all part of today’s beauty aesthetic. Beauty will be remade with an angle of wellness.
Vandana Luthra, founder of the VLCC Group, is optimistic about that future and feels that, “With the beauty and wellness market in India growing at 18-20 per cent annually, there is room for growth for existing players as well as new entrants. While the services segment of the domain continues to operate largely in the unorganised sector, it is heartening to see more organised sector players emerging and that, in the medium-to-long term, augers well for the industry.”
Wellness products and services will be spearheaded by companies such as AyurVAID Hospitals, Kairali, Dabur, Baidyanath, Patanjali and the likes.
“In future, I envision precision Ayurveda for chronic disease reversal and sustained wellbeing, which will seamlessly combine classical Ayurveda health management with personal technologies that enables mass-customisation of the well-being service. In the next 15 years, harmony of body-mind-spirit shall be a service on tap. Services will be available through tele-health options, at home, and at specialised well-being clinics/retreats. Insurance shall also cover this service making preventive and well-being care a mass phenomenon,” says Rajiv Vasudevan, founder & CEO of AyurVAID.
There is a need for a well-focused approach to stimulate development of the wellness industry, to regulate providers, and promote India as a wellness destination in future.
“Given the increasing focus of people on fitness, especially the youth, there would be an emerging pool of startups in this domain. Further, wellness as an industry has got boost from encouraging steps taken by the government through aspects such as tourism promotion, tax exemption on yoga and setting up wellness centres as part of NHPS. The future holds strong opportunities for the industry,” says Nilaya Varma, partner and head of Government and Healthcare at KPMG in India.
In this new era of health consciousness and with individuals and families with substantial purchasing power wanting to know more and willing to spend more on living a full life, and with chronological age not being a perceived constraint, wellbeing as a service will emerge as a major industry.
“A potent combination of favourable demographics, expanding per capita incomes and rapid urbanisation holds immense promise of rapid growth in aspirational consumption, especially as India is on the cusp of crossing the $2,000 per capita GDP mark,” believes Abneesh Roy, senior vice-president of Institutional Equities and research analyst at Edelweiss Securities.
“We believe, the “Eat Better, Live Better and Feel Better” paradigm is already upon us and consumption will be a driving theme along the way.
In 2025, India’s per capita income will hit over $3,500 and with it will come structural changes. The wallet share of discretionary spending will jump to 35 from 25 per cent currently, translating into discretionary spending catapulting 4X over the next eight years,” adds Roy. He envisages people heading back to ‘natural’ roots.
Ramdev baba can be truly termed as the propagator of the naturals theme in India. Patanjali’s unprecedented success in wresting market share from well-established MNCs forced the latter to take notice and launch “me-too” naturals products. Today, within FMCG, the naturals theme is fast gaining prominence and has become a $2.8-billion category, 41 per cent of total personal care market (as per AC Nielsen).
Various studies indicate that the contribution of the naturals segment has increased 1 per cent every year over the past. And, if the current trend sustains (we do not see any reason for it not to), naturals as a category within personal care can become 50 per cent of the overall segment by 2025. Even within food staples, naturals category could catapult to 12-15 per cent of the overall pie by 2025.
As consumers and lifestyles evolve, as more and more natural products enter the market and as consumers’ spending appetites and awareness expand, naturals will undoubtedly be a big trend fuelling consumption.
What is stark today is a rising demand for ethically-sourced and natural products with a personal story — going back to the soil across wellness segments.