The global pandemic has fundamentally altered our lifestyles for good and consequently, the way we shop will be forever changed.
Last week, we revealed our first trend in The Pursuit of Purpose, all about the age of authenticity in retail. And we're excited to reveal the second trend making a huge impact on how and why we shop. In this article, we explore the new wellness mantra and identify some of the leaders in modern 'retail therapy'.
TREND 02: A NEW KIND OF RETAIL THERAPY
“Health is wealth”. Even if we hadn’t seen this modern mantra splashed across all kinds of media, it has been firmly etched into all aspects of our lifestyles. In fact, referring to lifestyle, rather than purely ‘retail’, is important when discussing this wellness mantra. After all, the concept of contentment (the Danish 'Hygge) is intertwined with every aspect of how we live our lives, with retail just one part of our wellbeing.
We’re also reluctant to use the term ‘trend’ in this latest forecast, as wellness has shown itself to be far more than a trend. It is a mantra, a religion - a new way of living our lives to the fullest. Essentially, we’re talking about more than pilates and avocado on toast. In fact, it is not purely physical at all. It is an overarching dedication to individual empowerment, which spans across physical, social, emotional and mental wellbeing.
This journey towards a better self has a huge effect on retail, with consumers actively seeking products, services and experiences which make them feel good. Think back to the Marie Kondo phase. Her preference for decluttering our homes, and therefore our lives, is the essence of modern wellness retail. And the concept is all-encompassing. Not only have we been enlightened towards making purchases which fills our wellness meter, but we care about the wellbeing of the planet around us too. Our produce must be sustainably sourced, our digital apps must be data-safe, our health products must be cruelty free, and so on.
Essentially, we are making investments. In ourselves and in the world that we live in. As we look at wellness retail in 2022 and beyond, it is vital that retailers understand the importance of dedicated wellness strategies. Within physical retail landscapes, there has become a new kind of ‘retail therapy’; one which creates a respite from daily life and provides access to the latest and greatest wellness experiences.
A key example in this quest for wellness is the latest ‘Superself’ campaign from Selfridges, an online and offline activation dedicated to ‘exploring ways to help our customers ‘live brighter’ – from feeling good to living more sustainably’. In-store, Selfridges offered a multitude of activations including sensory pods with multi-sensory wellbeing experiences, workshops focused on confidence coaching and sex therapy, treatment offers such as The Light Salon which specialises in skin conditions. Offline, customers could engage with the new wellbeing podcast and shop for a carefully curated selection of mood-boosting vitamins and beauty products. While the original Superself installation launched in February 2022, further initiatives have been scheduled for the year ahead, including healthcare remedies, live music, fitness club and more.
Despite an offering of products, the Superself is a whole lot more than a shopping event. It is a new kind of retail therapy. A compliment to our pursuit to purpose which puts our ‘self’ at the centre of the entire retail experience.
Elsewhere in Europe, Galeries Lafayette have recently opened their ‘mega wellness department’ at their flagship in Paris. Billed to be the latest wellness space in Europe, the impressive La Wellness Galerie is over 32,000 square feet.
To differentiate the multitude of wellness mantras, the space is constructed on three main pillars: sports and relaxation, skincare and treatment and an overarching ‘wellbeing’ pillar, with everything from aromatherapy to sex toys.
Alexandre Liot, general manager of Galeries Lafayette, makes an important statement regarding the in-store wellness experience: In a release, Alexandre Liot, the general manager of the luxury retailer, said: “We firmly believe that the physical store is more important than ever, as long as it is able to adapt to customer expectations and offer the extra spark that is so essential to their in-store experience. It is what spurred us to create a space entirely devoted to wellness on one of our store’s most frequented floors. After experiencing an unprecedented health crisis over the last two years, this floor - which is the only one of its kind in Paris - will allow us to offer our customers brand-new, all-round experience devoted to self-care.”
At the very heart of these case studies is an aspiration for personal wellbeing, spanning across physical, social, sexual and mental wellbeing. There may be no end-game to achieving ‘ultimate wellness’ but as we strive for continual improvement, we are seeking to engage only with brands that encourage this.
In the too-recent past, brands and retailers may have capitalised on this (think adding a coffee machine in-store to promote ‘experiential retail’) in order to bump sales. However, projects such as Superself and La Galerie Wellness highlight a new kind of retail therapy which genuinely endorses the connection between wellness and products + services.
Is 'Retail Therapy' the new mantra for modern brand strategies?
Stay tuned for our next Retail Forecast: The Pursuit of Purpose (Part 3)