Today, good health is far more complex than the unexpected pain or a persistent bug. The wellness mindset has permeated all aspects of everyday life—from eating organic foods to using natural cleaning products to ending the day with meditation. It has emerged as one of the preeminent wellness trends of the decade. With rising obesity and chronic disease, analysts say the double-digit annual growth rates in the wellness sector will continue to change the way they eat and live.
There is more opportunity than ever before for health and wellness professionals to promote their services and tap into the demand for care across all demographics. Good health is recognized as a priority, just as important to life success as building a career, forming strong social bonds, and enjoying leisure pursuits. Kids are taking cooking and yoga classes; adults have napping pods and fitness instruction in the workplace; seniors are living active lives. People are increasingly looking at the bigger picture of their health over their lifetime. Instilling good habits and interventions early ensures vibrancy in later years.
Here are three key points to consider to understand today’s wellness-minded consumer, so you can tailor your business to follow suit:
1. People Are More Informed
The third most popular online activity—right behind checking email and using a search engine—is looking for answers to health questions. There is a proliferation of health material available, and much of it right at our fingertips. People used to go to their doctor for information and diagnosis, they are now becoming well-versed in their personal issues and concerns by doing their own research. Technology has shifted the access to information to the general public. The downside, of course, is the possible inaccuracy of information, feeding on people’s fears or promising cures. But the advantage can be the community: Online groups provide social support, information and shared experiences, with the pluses of anonymity and 24/7 availability.
All this signals a change in how people approach health and wellness professionals. They are looking for your expertise and opinions, to confirm or build upon their own research. The informed client wants to be consulted and have a say in the treatment plan and approach. Making time for dialogue and feedback at each visit is important.
Also, note that consumers are seeking out opinions on social media to make health care decisions, so the consequences for businesses like yours can be significant. As the practitioner, you can use technology to your advantage by creating a mentoring app for client use (where applicable). You can connect through social channels and strategically use your platforms to educate and build your brand.
2. People Want in on the Modern Lifestyle
For many people, the everyday reality of modern life is setting them up for poor health. Scientific research confirms that sedentary, technology-driven lives are putting people at higher risk of disease, anxiety and depression. They sit for long hours at a desk and then go home to sit in front of the television or home computer. The pace of their lives is a rapid to-do list of professional and domestic chores, leaving little time or energy for home cooking, exercising or face-to-face social time. They are striving for work-life balance and failing.
There’s an enormous gap between wanting to be well, and living with the mental and physical health penalties of overeating, under-exercising, and having too little down time. The American Psychological Association says that Americans routinely report that their stress levels are higher than what they consider healthy. They say the top reasons for their stress are work and money concerns. In fact, the need to disconnect and unplug has created an industry of DIY mindfulness and relaxation supports, including coloring books for adults, knitting and craft groups, downloadable guided meditation and silent retreats. People want help and they are waking up to the fact that they can’t do it alone.
The shift here is recognizing the need to take ownership of habits, and put in the work to make change. People are looking for the right specialist to set them on the correct path and clarify their needs. With that, there has been a rise in wellness coaches to find the motivation and tools to define and reach their clients’ physical and emotional health goals. Keep in mind your clients likely can’t carve out drastic hours of extra time for healthy pursuits. They are looking for simple adjustments to their routine and realistic, do-able habits that will help to turn their health around.
3. People Are Interested in Holistic Health
Consumers are approaching health from a holistic point of view with the knowledge that feeling good includes both body and mind. You can expect to see people take a more active role in behavioural health, ranging from personal care, such as massage, meditation and happiness coaching apps and podcasts, to corporate mental health programs for stress management.
A holistic approach to wellness doesn’t mean abandoning the family doctor, but taking other proactive steps for overall health. Your clients’ holistic practice can integrate conventional medicine with alternative therapies, including acupuncture, iridology and homeopathy. These alternative therapies, generally speaking reflect society’s preference for natural ingredients over chemicals and processing. People are more open to trying natural-based remedies instead of popping a pill prescribed by a doctor, and risking unpleasant, harmful side effects. They want more than relief from their symptoms, but an expert to determine and address underlying issues.
This also falls in line with current research that physical health is directly tied to emotional health. There is a whole list of things people can do that are completely within their control . For example, eating fresh whole foods can boost mood, help people think more clearly, and provide constant energy. Regular physical activity can actually grow the brain’s neural networks, and ward off mental and physical decline. Science has confirmed that when stress goes unmanaged, it leads to all kinds of physical ailments, like digestive problems or high blood pressure.
Can you as a practitioner, build a holistic approach to your methods and treatment? It begins with that initial assessment, collecting clients’ personal health history and finding out about their habits. Naturopaths and nutritionists, for example, may also ask about sleep habits, exercise habits, and home and work issues. Conventional doctors try to keep appointments to 10 minutes to get through the assembly line of patients. But wellness practitioners give clients more time and personal attention to discuss their problems, dialogue about solutions, and celebrate successes. Think about introducing the idea of a health team to educate your client on other therapies that can also help. Establish a network with other health and wellness professionals, so you can refer your clients to other therapists—and they can do the same for you.
Related: 11 Ways to Attract New Clients
The more familiar you become with health-conscious, their needs and expectations, the better you can do your job and inspire results.
About the Author: Karen Hawthorne worked for six years as a digital editor for the National Post, contributing articles on business, food, culture and travel for affiliated newspapers across Canada. She now writes from her home office in Toronto as a freelancer, and takes breaks to bounce with her son on the backyard trampoline. Connect with her on LinkedIn.