A few very simple points to consider regarding the impact of Coronavirus on the wellness industry at large…
- It will impact the wellness industry proportionately more than many other industries. The reason is the following: A large percentage of economic activity in the wellness industry resides in social forms of consumption, i.e., forms of economic activity that depend on physical and personal (“high-touch”) interactions with others. Wellness tourism, spas, most forms of physical activity and fitness, and beauty treatments are all contingent upon forms of consumption that are social in nature.
- An enduring consequence of the pandemic will be widespread (permanent?) change in personal behavior. The painful and troubling realization that the virus can infect us all across generational, social and many other divides, coupled with the revelation of the fragility of the systems to care for us, could give rise to a greater sense of personal responsibility for our own health. We are now pondering what we need to do to keep ourselves healthy and to improve our immune system, and that will only sharpen. This is a very broad statement, but it is structurally positive for wellbeing.
- Travel and hospitality will, of course, be hit particularly hard—leaving aside issues of discretionary spending, it will take a while before consumers regain enough confidence to travel abroad, let alone to distant destinations. Some industries, like cruises, may never recover enough to become financially viable again.
- The partial, wider retreat from globalization will favor regionalism and localism in travel, which in turn will benefit some well-traveled destinations in the most developed economies. The Alps in Europe and the National Parks in the US are such examples. Even before COVID-19, they were benefitting from the “micro-adventure” trend (experiencing wellness and adventure nearby and sustainably). In the post-pandemic era, this trend will accelerate.
- The pandemic will have a considerable impact on how consumers make their decisions. Some behavioral changes observed during the periods of lockdown are unlikely to be reversed in the post-pandemic era and, therefore, may become permanent. The focus on hygiene is one of these—there’ll be a new obsession with cleanliness. Anxiety and diffidence about sharing space with complete strangers may be another—many people may decide that it’s preferable to practice yoga or exercise at home rather than going to a club or a gym.
- It goes without saying, whenever possible, have an online presence. Many more things will come to us remotely through the agency of screens (our mobiles, computers and virtual reality devices), robots, drones, etc.