Women’s Wellness: A Twenty-Year Retrospective
From the groundbreaking insights in our Wellness Lifestyle Shopper Study 2000: Mapping the Journeys of Wellness Consumers report to our most recent Health + Wellness 2019: From Moderation to Mindfulness report, a key finding that cuts across nearly two decades of researching wellness consumer attitudes, behaviors, lifestyles and culture has been the role of women. From nearly any perspective, qualitatively and quantitatively, women have been the undisputed leaders and trailblazers in the health and wellness movement — not to mention a major factor in overall household purchase decision making.
Much as they did twenty years ago, women today seek to express their identities and voices through personal choices, unique experiences and strategies for reinvention. Women’s wellness consumption is increasingly motivated by less tangible, emotional states. Now a mix of new anxieties about aging and well-being, valiant efforts to create and sustain hope, and the broadening impact of traditional American self-improvement impulses is playing a much more significant role in women’s wellness consumption.
Women’s interests, goals and ideals vary by the stage of their lives (whether a single, young college student, a busy professional, a new mom, an empty nester or a retired grandmother), by their lifestyle orientations and by the communities and institutions they reside within.
Historically, women have shaped the scope and depth of the wellness arena through their ongoing interest in new health information, their commitment to wellness products and channels and their traditional involvement in social networks and community building. We find that women continue to chart new territory today through their desire to increase knowledge and use of health and wellness products and their tendency to respond rapidly to cultural shifts and trends, thus shaping the wellness retail arena.
Women’s Wellness 2019: Motivations, Interests and Triggers That Lead to Purchase
We find that women go to great lengths to articulate how they are unique and how they find their own identities as a precursor to celebrating what is shared with others; health and wellness consumption plays an integral role in expressing these distinctions. So, what does “health and wellness” mean to women today? Where do women learn about health and wellness? What are the triggers to a wellness lifestyle?
Consumer language around wellness definitions has changed subtly over the years. Wellness has become a broader, more encompassing concept for consumers. We need look no further than the name change and rebranding of Weight Watchers to “WW International” with the tagline “Wellness that Works” as evidence of the shifting meaning of health and wellness.
When attempting to define health and wellness, we find that it means different things to different consumer segments. Today, in terms of specific factors, the meaning of health and wellness encompasses the emotional, the physical, the tangible and the intangible.
The Hartman Group’s Health + Wellness 2019 report finds that women view health and wellness holistically, as maintaining balance in physical health, mental health and lifestyle. Being able to enjoy life, deal with stress and relax is considered a key element of what health and wellness means to today’s women.
• Leading balanced lifestyle (73%)
• Feeling good about myself (68%)
• Being able to deal with stress (63%)
• Being physically fit (62%)
• Having energy for an active lifestyle (61%)
Health triggers play a role in product purchase. Slightly more than one in two women (53%) have changed their health and wellness views in the past few years. What caused the change in views?
Traditionally, aging has been the main trigger prompting women consumers to look anew at health and wellness.
• Concern about getting older (45%)
• Too much stress (39%)
• Having too little energy (38%)
• My health condition changed (34%)
• The health condition of a family member worsened (15%)
Because the wellness movement is not simply about health but also about emotional well-being and the interconnectedness of these two realms, wellness is a world that traditionally has been the domain of women. Women were the physicians of Western history; they were midwives and nurses, counselors and pharmacists long before what we call medicine today even existed.
While modern society has seen drastic changes in women’s roles, the concerns and values associated with these traditional responsibilities still resonate with women, and increasingly with men as well. There is a set of values (sensitivity, nurturing, listening, emotional openness, warmth, creativity, receptivity, connection to nature, etc.) that have traditionally been associated with the feminine.
Perhaps women are the wellness leaders because their values are so well aligned with the soul values upon which wellness is based. However, as men today continue to absorb these roles and responsibilities along with the values to which they are attached, wellness consciousness will continue to migrate from women to men and from the core of the world of wellness to the mainstream.
Because there is no single type of wellness consumer, it means the potential market is far less limited. Instead of a microscopic view on consumers or demographic segments, we’d suggest that the pathway to unlocking potential health and wellness market opportunities lies in taking a broad view into the larger world of wellness to learn how to better serve consumers.
For a thorough understanding of today’s health and wellness consumers and opportunity spaces, get The Hartman Group’s Health + Wellness 2019 report.