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Wellness is often represented as a passing fad or niche market, but a major study conducted by SRO International (SRO), released at the 2010 Global Spa Summit (GSA) in Istanbul, Turkey, reveals that the yearly worldwide wellness industry is poised to cross the $2 trillion mark.
The report, titled “Spas and the Global Wellness Market,” represents one of the first analyses of the wellness industry and the consumer forces driving its growth. The study also, for the first time, presents wellness as an integrated industry cluster with nine core segments, adding definition to what has been an amorphous market.
Three mega trends will ensure continued growth in wellness: 1. An aging world population; 2. Failing conventional medical systems, with consumers, health care providers and governments seeking more cost-effective, prevention-focused alternatives to a Western medical/sickness model focused on solving health problems rather than preventing them; 3. Increased globalization, with consumers more aware of alternative health approaches via the Internet and the powerful reach of celebrity wellness advocates such as Oprah Winfrey, Deepak Chopra and Jamie Oliver.
Although the study finds that there are 289 million active wellness consumers in the world’s top 30 industrialized nations alone, wellness has proved exceptionally resistant to definition. SRO does not offer a single definition, but the report describes wellness as: 1. Multidimensional and holistic, integrating physical, mental, spiritual and social approaches; 2. Complementary and proactive, not only treating illness, but more importantly, focused on preventing sickness and improving overall quality of life; 3. Consumer-driven, relying on consumer choice rather than patient necessity.
“Whether you find the term meaningful or not, wellness is a vast, mainstream and very real industry, with an extraordinary global ancient and modern history. It’s interesting that this $2 trillion dollar market has received so little research and that there is not more consensus on key definitions and benchmarks,” said Katherine Johnston, senior economist with SRO. “Governments, health professionals and investors need to take consumer demand for wellness products and services very seriously because, with the shortcomings in the global health care system, a shift toward wellness and prevention not only will, but must, accelerate.” Johnston further noted that 81% of consumers surveyed have a strong interest in improving their personal wellness.