Wellness, Today’s Ultimate Status Symbol

March 29th 2016

As any die-hard fitfluencer will tell you, living well doesn’t come cheap these days. Classes at the must-try boutique studios run around $30 a pop, once-a-day cold press juices come at a wallet-busting weekly sum of $70, while organic, fresh foods for the week typically come with a $100+ price tag…not to mention the high costs of maintaining an on-trend workout wardrobe.

Ten years ago, spending so much money (and time!) on living a fit and healthy lifestyle would seem absurd. When you heard about crazy fitness and diet fads, it was usually in commercials or in a weekly celebrity rag about how Gwyneth maintained her impossibly slim physique. In recent years, however, social platforms like Instagram and Snapchat have ushered in a new type of celebrity: the social influencer. With #strongnotskinny figures and social fitness stars like Anna Victoria and Tone It Up Girls flooding our feeds, popular publications featuring regular content from influencers like Adam Rosante and Hannah Bronfman and conceptual boutique fitness studios popping up weekly, the most important status symbol is no longer a material item but rather a pronounced and socially catalogued dedication to wellness.

This shift in perception and consumer spending is clearly mirrored within the activewear industry. In past years, athletic apparel choices were more limited to sport-specific brands like Nike, Adidas and Reebok. But as consumers began to pour their money into pricier sportswear offerings from lululemon and Adidas x Stella McCartney, major fashion designers jumped onboard with active captive collections. And, non-branded retail shops like JUJA Active, began seeing success in accommodating this trend. Never far behind, big name celebrities began cashing in on the trend, with successful athletic wear brands launching from powerhouses Carrie Underwood and Kate Hudson.

Beyond all this, wellness has become a huge part of our daily social interactions, in many different ways. Firstly, and perhaps most attractively, it’s become a status symbol. People feel like they’re part of an elite group with common interests and are interacting in class, on the road, or on social media, forming deep bonds not limited by location, age or profession. Additionally, wellness has become brag-worthy: a form of social currency. This lifestyle shift driven by fitness classes, number of weekly workouts, stylish apparel and the latest superfood craze is an extension of indulgent vacations, reservations at hot restaurants, or scoring a limited-edition fashion item. As a result, global brands beyond the “traditional” fitness/wellness sphere are striving to be a part of the conversation.

Westin Hotels & Resorts, a global brand that has been embracing wellness for more than five years, recently unveiled a completely refreshed visual identity driven by the vibrant colors, active imagery and luxe details that are in lockstep with the wellness industry today. This visual shift aligns with fitness leaders, reflects on-property experiences already available to Westin guests, and further strengthens the brand’s wellness lead in global hospitality.

As marketing pros, it’s important to understand that the evolution and expansion of the wellness consumer audience requires a shift in how we communicate as a whole. The best way to sell in a new pair of workout leggings to a fitness editor requires more than waxing poetic about the high-tech performance capabilities of the fabric and design. It’s now important to identify exactly how superior this piece of athletic garb is compared to competitors and why they’re a highly covetable item (e.g. “they’re perfect for killing it in morning spin, uber comfy for Netflix-and-chilling and stylish enough to be the envy of your friends at Sunday brunch!”). With living well becoming a lifestyle conversation starter at home and on the road, and a way for consumers to compare and contrast their personalities and fitness/wellness preferences, it has become increasingly necessary for us to imagine and convey various lifestyle scenarios through our public relations and marketing efforts.

By Cynthia Patnode

Cynthia is an Account Supervisor in Mfa’s Consumer Products group, specializing in the development and execution of strategic communication campaigns, consumer product launches, and high profile events. With a longtime passion for working on brands at the intersection of fashion, beauty and wellbeing, Cynthia excels at garnering national awareness for niche brands and helping established organizations become more appealing to new audiences.


*Photo courtesy of Anna Victoria

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