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  • Written by Len Stein
NEW YORK NY October 20 – A “Wellness Uprising” is spreading across America, led by women and men of all ages, ethnicities and income levels who, increasingly concerned about personal wellness, are rapidly adopting healthier habits. And, while the majority of young and old people alike ‘feel healthy’ the poor do not, as revealed in “The Wellness Uprising,” a new study conducted by WSL, a leading shopper insights and retail intelligence consultancy that publishes annual ‘How America Shops’ studies.

 

People of all ages and income levels cite stress (47%) as their number one health concern and are adopting strategies to live healthier lives. For example, on average more than half of Americans (57%) are eating less fast food, 46% less sweets, 41% less saturated fats, 33% less sodium and 27% less caffeine. “People are changing their dietary habits, eating less ‘bad’ foods and cooking more ‘good’ foods, two growing trends which will have a major impact on every type of business, especially those that involve food, exercise and healthcare,” said Wendy Liebmann, CEO, WSL.

 

“What began in the recent recession as an economic necessity has become a more holistic approach to being well every day. ‘The Wellness Uprising’ we see is driven by a convergence of forces in society, the economy and technology,” added Ms. Liebmann. “What began as a fringe movement of people interested in organic food, yoga and shopping at Whole Foods has turned into a national trend driven by a broad constituency of consumers of all ages, incomes, ethnicities and genders. They’re knowledgeable and passionate about taking care of their own and their family’s health.   They state their needs in broad economic and social terms, beyond typical medical issues and they absolutely understand and value the concept of ‘wellness.’”

 

Factoids: “Wellness Uprising”

Nearly half of Americas feel their health (42%) is excellent or very good (32%); 38% good. On average, 85% of Americans are confident they know how to live a healthy life.

 

Stress is the leading obstacle to good health (47%), followed by “lack of sleep” (37%); “not enough time to exercise” (25%) and “working too many hours” (17%).

 

The leading sign of good health today is ‘mental balance’ to 76% of Americans, replacing losing weight, the leader in 2011; feeling energized (74%) and feeling positive (71%).

 

For Boomers, healthy means “able to move easily” (71%); “being rested” 70%; “being the right weight” (68%).

 

The “Look of Health is especially important to Millennials, with the most important attributes being: “glowing soft skin” (37%); “looking good in clothes” (34%); “white teeth” (31%); and “strong nails” (27%).

 

“A review of consumers’ ‘trusted advisors’ demonstrates that traditional wellness categories, from physicians to medications to pharmacists, are facing growing competition as people seek information and new products to promote healthier lifestyles. But all brands and retailers, from hotels to hospitals to supermarkets, have opportunities to participate in the Wellness Uprising,” said WSL’s Wendy Liebmann.

 

“Trust in sources of health information are rapidly evolving across the board as people seek new ways to stay healthy,” said Candace Corlett, president, WSL. “Health websites are as trusted as parental advice (60%); fitness apps (43%) and online ratings/reviews (41%) have earned trust, but retailers’ websites (35%), social networks and posts lag (30%).”

 

According to findings of the “Wellness Uprising,” retailers must adapt to this new environment or face uncertain futures. “More than two-thirds (69%) of those surveyed said retailers need to increase their selections of healthy choices; offer more fresh products (46%), more natural / organic ingredients (31%), and source locally (26%) to satisfy the growing demand,” added WSL’s Ms. Liebmann. Of note, retailers need to make better “use of signing to flag healthier choices” (34%).

The Future of Wellness… from Apps to Homeopathy

The future of wellness promises a mix of old remedies and new technologies as some people adopt health maintenance apps, others turn to holistic regiments, and others rely more on themselves to deal with health issues. Millennials are leading the way with 40% seeing doctors less often and being more self-reliant, 39% taking less medication and seeking alternative treatments, and 35% using family or folk remedies in place of modern medications.”

 

“Holistic is another hot button,” said WSL’s Candace Corlett. “From vitamin regimens (52%) to alternatives like homeopathic remedies, massage and acupuncture (total 32%), people want more control over their well-being. Meditation, yoga and more exotic treatments are gaining adherents, a trend we expect to accelerate rapidly in the next five to ten years. What’s so appealing about this uprising is shoppers’ passion to find new choices, from traditional health categories to food, beauty, home, exercise apparel, technology, even pets, which creates opportunities for product categories, brands and retailers.”

 

Methodology

How America Shops® 2014 The Wellness Uprising is a nationwide online survey of 2,008 Men and Women, ages 18+, conducted during July and August 2014.

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ABOUT WSL

Founded in 1986, WSL is the leading authority on shopper behavior and retail trends. Through unparalleled research, global trend analysis and customized consulting services, WSL arms retailers, manufacturers and brands with the tools to stay ahead of the market and motivate shoppers to purchase. WSL tracks the mindsets, attitudes and behaviors that shape shopper trends and predicts how they transform brands and retailers in the U.S. and globally

For more information, visit www.wslstrategicretail.com.