Untitled Document
24 Sep 2017 Spa Business Handbook
 

HOME
VIEW DIGITAL EDITION
CONTENTS
PROFILES
BUY HANDBOOK
JOBS
NEWS
BLOG
PRODUCTS
ADVERTISE
CONTACT US
Sign up for FREE ezine
Current issue
Spa Business Handbook
Current issue

View this issue online
Buy print edition
Download PDF

Previous issues
Spa Business Handbook
2016 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Spa Business Handbook
2015 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Spa Business Handbook
2014 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Spa Business Handbook
2013 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Spa Business Handbook
2012 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Download PDF
Spa Business Handbook
2011 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Spa Business Handbook
2010 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Spa Business Handbook
2009 issue

View issue contents
View this issue online
Spa Business Handbook - Ripe For Exploration

Industry insights

From Spa Business Handbook 2016 issue 1
Ripe For Exploration


The Future Hunters identify three areas of opportunity for development for spa and wellness operators

The 65-plus market will be one of the biggest engines for growth in the spa market in the coming decade photo: shutterstock/goodluz
There are roughly 2 million in the generation Z segment – those turning 20 in 2016 and younger photo: shutterstock/LuckyImages
Some VR headsets release scents to enhance what people see shutterstock
Spa goers could imagine themselves in relaxing environments of their choice by using VR photo: shutterstock/aslysun
Meditation-based pods like the Aura provide respite from technology
Expect to see more multi-sensory experiences like Somadome come into the workplace and spas
Expect to see more multi-sensory experiences like Somadome come into the workplace and spas
MyCoocoon is one of a number of multi-sensory relaxation experiences that are beginning to crop up

The world is changing more rapidly than ever before, thanks, in large part, to the exponential rate of technological advancement. As a result, it’s becoming increasingly challenging for leaders across all industries to adapt and respond to all the disruption. However, within all of this lie tremendous opportunities for growth.

Growth segments: gerontopoly & cybrids
In the future, success for the spa industry will lie very much in its ability to attract both the oldest and youngest adult consumer segments. This may sound like a contradiction, but the world is simultaneously ageing and getting younger – depending on where we focus.

Many parts of the world are ageing rapidly. China, India, Japan and the US have some of the biggest ageing populations and the levels of seniors throughout Latin America are also rising significantly. By 2050, approximately 16 per cent of the world’s population (1.5 billion people) will be aged 65 and older.

The upside to all of this is that one of the most powerful and little understood markets is emerging globally. We propose the term ‘gerontopoly’ be used to define this burgeoning industry and economy, and wellness businesses will balloon with opportunity. As the population ages and many people live longer, there will be an increasing premium put on experiences that relax and revitalise or which increase health and wellbeing. Rather than viewing this segment on the margins, the spa industry should recognise that the 65-plus market will be one of its biggest engines for growth in the coming decades.

But there’s also a demographic tidal wave coming from the other end of the age spectrum. Generation Z is loosely defined as those born after 1995 (those turning 20 in 2016, and younger) – the same time that the internet became a commercially ubiquitous technology. There are roughly 2 billion members of this generation worldwide and they represent around one-quarter of the North American population. Their values will be very different from the millennials who preceded them. People often categorise today’s youth as being ‘digital natives’. But these are not just digital natives. They are ‘cybrids’, cyber hybrids, who have a fully symbiotic relationship with the digital world, literally from the moment they’re born.

While the spa industry may not have traditionally considered those under 18 to be its core market, it would be well-served to account for their evolving desires, because they’ll fast become the customers of tomorrow. These consumers have tremendous spending power and are socially-conscious and mindful. In addition, they’ll be looking to disconnect from certain technologies while also enjoying wellness experiences that better utilise others. For example, cybrids may want the essence of a traditional Zen experience, but they will also want that integrated with smart sensors or wearables. Those devices will customise the physical spa environment to their individual needs or be responsive to their physiological changes in real-time through subtle changes in scent, lighting, sound, music and temperature.

Virtual & augmented reality
Virtual reality (VR) has advanced rapidly in recent years. Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard are fast becoming more familiar to consumers. VR is also at the heart of evolved storytelling and brand engagement. Narrative expressed through VR has the chance to completely revolutionise everything around us by simulating a multi-sensory and immersive sense of place. In our shop, we define true VR as technology that tricks the brain into thinking that it’s somewhere else, doing something else, in real time. Truly effective VR will be able to accurately simulate and integrate inputs from all five senses. While we’re not quite there yet – due largely to constraints on haptic technology, we’re making rapid progress. Google acquired Thrive Audio, a company that specialises in spatial audio that becomes three-dimensional, effectively surrounding you. Feelreal has developed a mask that releases scents to enhance what you see in a headset. And researchers are developing electrodes for the tongue that mimic taste.

Imagine capturing potential customers through teasers that accurately simulate what the spa experience will be like. Then, once in the door, imagine a spa that deploys VR headsets (in dedicated relaxation rooms, or during treatments) that immerse customers in relaxing environments of their choice – a tropical beach, in the mountains or gazing upon the night sky – that enhance the experience. Or, imagine a spa that allows customers to be at the spa without actually having to be at the spa – thus giving people access to many of the benefits of the spa experience, on-demand, 24/7.

Augmented reality (AR), as opposed to VR, is less about creating an alternative reality as it is about overlaying data to enhance our actual physical reality. The Future Self Mirror gathers data from fitness, health and diet trackers to predict and visualise what you’ll look like in the future. Using a digital screen behind a mirror and motion trackers, it creates an AR experience where data about your health is superimposed on your reflection in real time. Researchers have shown that letting people watch their future avatars get more healthy or unhealthy based on food choices can change present-day behavior and ensure a healthier old age. As more of the world ages, future scenarios of self will be important motivators to change current behaviors. These sorts of simulations could input empirical data about the health and wellness benefits of spa experiences to increase customer engagement.

Spirit-duality: the evolution of workplace wellness
Trends always lead to their own counter trends. In a world defined by rapidly evolving technology, an increased search for meaning is a logical consequence. Nowhere is this more palpable than in the workplace which is becoming more spiritual and more technologically-dependent. This is the essence of spirit-duality and it will define workplace wellness in the future.

On the technology side, we see the rise of tracking programmes and self-quantification. Our performance, health, fitness and decision-making are increasingly quantified. Additionally, the idea that we might express qualitative phenomena such as happiness or life satisfaction in quantitative ways has gained credence. Applications to even measure the soul are now on the market.

Going beyond technology, companies are looking for ways to enhance the spiritual and mental wellness of employees. They’re doing this through better feedback mechanisms. “Accentuate the positive” has become a new workplace mantra. Gallup’s StrengthsFinder was used by 467 of the Fortune 500 last year. Firms are also using software platforms like Payroll Hero, which lets people give coworkers a thumbs-up for a job well done. They’re also doing this by prioritising output (results) over input (clock-in; clock-out). And they’re doing this by trying to decrease employee burnout. Tech firms like Netflix, Evernote and IBM are exploring unlimited vacation policies.

Complementing all of this is an increasing scientific legitimisation for eastern and alternative medicine. Researchers are combining western techniques for analysing complex biological systems with the traditional Chinese medicine notion of seeing the body, and symptoms, as a networked whole. The Indian government is pushing to show that ayurveda is based on sound science, leading to the nascent field of ‘ayurgenomics’. On top of this, we’re even seeing advancements in the study of plant intelligence and consciousness. It’s long been known in eastern medicine that plants and humans together have important interrelations which affect the health of both.

The integration of technology with eastern principles will define the workplace wellness programmes of tomorrow. This is happening already through meditation-based technologies like the Orrb, a womb-like cocoon for offices where people can de-stress. Similar meditation/multi-sensory experiences targeting both spas and corporate offices include MyCoocoon, Somadome and the Aura pod. Meanwhile, neurosignaling algorithms like Thync, which targets electrical stimulation to specific regions of users’ brains, allows users to become more focused, motivated or calmer.

Workplace wellness is currently one of the most discussed topics in the wellness and spa community, because it drives so many health, productivity and profitability outcomes. As workplace wellness programmes evolve, spa visits might well be encouraged by employers. Or, perhaps, in some cases, even mandatory? In the near future, as more data-based evidence builds the case that spa- and other wellness-related activities improve health outcomes, and drive down costs, some insurance companies could conceivably cover spa visits much the same way they currently cover doctor visits.

Industry elevation
Taken in combination, new demographic segments, emerging technologies and workplace wellness mandates will dramatically change the face of the spa industry. While competition will be intense, the size of the overall wellness market will increase – providing spa businesses with exciting new opportunities to cultivate customers, differentiate themselves and ultimately elevate the industry to a new level of cultural significance.

About the Future Hunters

The Future Hunters is one of the world’s leading futurist consultancies. For nearly four decades, its team has identified long-term trends and evaluated the strategic implications of those trends for several of the most influential companies, trade associations and public sector clients including General Electric, American Express, Lego, Unilever and Procter & Gamble.

In their day to day roles, the team looks at a wide spectrum of issues that relate to the future of wellness including health and medicine, workplace wellness, nutrition, mindfulness and spirituality. Over recent years, The Future Hunters has also played a key role in moderating sessions at the Global Wellness Summit.

Details: www.thefuturehunters.com

 


photo: shutterstock/aslysun

VR researchers are developing electrodes for the tongue that mimic taste

About the author

 

Jared Weiner
 

Jared Weiner is executive vice president and chief strategy officer of The Future Hunters (see p78). He serves on many advisory boards including the World Future Society and has keynoted some of the world’s most prominent industry conferences.

Email: jared@thefuturehunters.com

Twitter: @JaredWeinerNYC



Originally published in Spa Business Handbook magazine 2016 issue 1

Published by The Leisure Media Company, Portmill House, Portmill Lane, Hitchin, Herts SG5 1DJ. Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385 | Contact us | About us | Advertise | © Cybertrek Ltd