Holistic mind and body treatments are reshaping the industry and blurring the lines between cosmetic medicine and general wellness.

The “wellness economy” was valued at US$4.5 trillion in 2018, according to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI). And in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s safe to hedge that this figure has well and truly increased. More than ever, people are prioritising self- care, taking health into their own hands and spending money on their wellbeing. 2020 shed new light on what it means to be well.

‘Once upon a time, our contact with wellness was occasional: we went to the gym or got a massage,’ says Katherine Johnston, senior research fellow at GWI. ‘But this is changing fast; a wellness mindset is starting to permeate the global consumer consciousness, affecting people’s daily decision-making — whether food purchases, a focus on mental wellness and reducing stress, incorporating movement into daily life, environmental consciousness, or their yearning for connection and happiness.

‘Wellness, for more people, is evolving from rarely to daily, from episodic to essential, from a luxury to a dominant lifestyle value. And that profound shift is driving powerful growth.’

What is wellness and the wellness economy?

The GWI describes wellness as “the active pursuit of activities, choices and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health”.

It should be noted that GWI considers wellness to be an individual pursuit – we have self- responsibility for our own choices, behaviours and lifestyles – but it is also significantly influenced by the physical, social and cultural environments in which we live. Wellness is often confused with terms like health, wellbeing and happiness.

While there are common elements among them, GWI clarifies that wellness is distinguished by not referring to a static state of being (ie, being happy, in good health or a state of wellbeing). Rather, wellness is associated with an active process of being aware and making choices that lead toward an outcome of optimal holistic health and wellbeing – an amalgamation of many components that should ideally work in harmony.

The wellness industry itself encompasses activities that promote physical and mental wellbeing – from yoga, meditation and clean eating to anti-ageing and beauty, spa retreats and wellness tourism.

The wellness economy is described by the GWI as “industries that enable consumers to incorporate wellness activities and lifestyles into their daily lives.”

‘As people incorporate more of the wellness values into their lifestyle, our interaction with the wellness economy is also becoming less episodic and more intentional, more integrative, and more holistic,’ says GWI senior research fellow Ophelia Yeung.

‘In the last few years, wellness has become a dominant lifestyle value that is profoundly changing consumer behaviour and changing the markets. In the face of longer lifespans, and rising chronic disease, stress and unhappiness, we only see growth for wellness ahead,’ she says.

‘The ultimate goal is to create a one-stop destination for your patients’ personal aesthetic and wellbeing needs, delivering a pampering as well as therapeutic experience – and ensuring your practice remains relevant in the skyrocketing wellness economy.’

Personal care, anti-ageing and beauty make up the lion’s share of the wellness economy, with more than $1 trillion. The spa economy, worth upwards of $120 billion, is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the past few years as more people find themselves drawn to self-care oases as an anecdote to fast- paced, over-connected lifestyles.

According to Yeung, the different sectors of the wellness economy – beauty, nutrition, fitness, spa, etc – increasingly tend to blend together, with individual markets becoming less siloed and more interconnected.

The marriage of aesthetic medicine and wellness

Wellness has disrupted the cosmetic enhancement and beauty industries. In order to look good, you have to feel good. No longer is the focus only on external measures to enhance beauty. Instead there is a shift to a more holistic approach, including a stronger desire for non-surgical and autologous treatments, for ongoing prevention rather than repair and for devices that integrate smart technology into cosmetic treatments.

In an article for PRIME magazine, global aesthetic consultant Wendy Lewis says many people are looking for outlets that offer a nurturing experience to calm their nerves and make them feel good about themselves again. ‘There is a robust interest for health and wellness treatments and services that presents as an opportunity for aesthetic practices,’ she says. ‘Wellness programs can include enhanced services that may be presented as ideal adjuncts for medical aesthetics.’

But before you start to re-invent your practice, Lewis advises to first find out what services and additions your current patients might actually appreciate. Sending out a wellness survey may be a worthwhile initiative. ‘They may enjoy an occasional yoga class or meditation session, or relaxing signature facials and therapeutic massages may be more in line with their goals,’ says Lewis. Personal interaction is an integral component of the wellness industry that relies on some level of physical touching. Thus, in a post-pandemic atmosphere, it is necessary to carefully consider how to offer the services your clients want while keeping them and your staff safe.’

If you don’t already, consider adding spa services and treatment menus that are synergistic with your cosmetic medicine treatments. The aim is to convey a sense of calm and pampering for your patients – it is this relaxation aspect of spas that draws people in.

In an aesthetic practice, short of having a separate facility, a medispa focus may consist of a few treatment rooms and well-trained aestheticians and therapists who can create the right environment and deliver what your clients need.

Lewis stresses that your existing facility needs to effectively support the patient experience you are striving for, while also providing the essentials needed to run an efficient operation. Poor planning and design, inadequate patient privacy and flow, and lack of storage can all negatively the patient experience and impact your bottom line, she says. Your facility’s design should visually communicate your concept and offer a sensory experience.

Choose services and products that are consistent with your brand and address the needs of your patients. For example, nutritional counselling, therapeutic massage and signature facials are popular in certain markets.

‘Develop signature combination treatments that will serve as the foundation of your brand,’ offers Lewis. ‘These may include customised programs with injectables and laser and light-based procedures, as well as branded layered services combined with home-care products. Look for skincare ranges that offer back bar sizes for specialty products to combine them with in-office peels and facials.’

The ultimate goal is to create a one-stop destination for your patients’ personal aesthetic and wellbeing needs, delivering a pampering as well as therapeutic experience – and ensuring your practice remains relevant in the skyrocketing wellness economy. AMP

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