But how did the health and fitness industry manage to thrive? While it’s based on several factors, we’ve narrowed it down to these four things:
- The rise of lifestyle-related illness
- Social media’s influence
- Increasingly health-conscious consumers
- A shift in attitude towards healthcare
Keep reading to discover the social and commercial influences that resulted in the health and fitness industry’s unprecedented success, and why it’s positioned to continue growing at a fast pace.
The rise of lifestyle-related illness
Since the introduction of technology and automation in the workplace, the average job and lifestyle are increasingly sedentary. People are also busier and put a premium on convenience.
Perhaps we are a product of our environment, but between the hours spent on computers and binging Netflix, people spent less and less time being physically active. Their lack of physical activity, compounded with unhealthy eating choices dominated by processed, time-saving ready-to-eat foods, resulted in some pretty staggering numbers.
In 2014, nearly 40% of adults were considered overweight. In the United States, that number jumps to 70%, making it the most overweight country in the world. Millennials and Gen Z’ers are also more stressed out than previous generations.
As a result, consumers decided to take matters into their own hands. There has been an unprecedented increase in demand for healthier alternatives, with fast-food restaurants being rejected in favor of fast-casual diners and full-service restaurants.
And therein lies the opportunity.
Influence of social media
Health and fitness is a social media phenomenon. On Instagram alone, the #fitness hashtag has over 300 million posts. According to Statistica, there are approximately 2.5 billion people using social media platforms today.
Social media influencers are one of the driving forces behind the growth of the health and fitness industry. For one, they promote healthy eating, exercise, and the desire for a lean, athletic physique. In other words, they’re convincing people to work out more. Secondly, they use their social clout to gain sponsorship and advertising deals and influence which products, services, and supplements their followers consume.
- Instagram has over 1 billion active users
- 60% of Instagram’s users use the platform to discover new products
- 65% of Instagram’s top-performing posts feature a product
Authentic, trustworthy social media influencers who personify their followers’ aspirations, lifestyles and desires are incredibly persuasive and are a major form of advertising for the health and wellness industry.
Image source: Kayla Itsines
Increasingly health-conscious customers
While it may sound like a self-fulfilling prophecy, the media has a direct impact on the overall proliferation of the health and wellness industry. The more content that is produced on the topic, the more people will consume it. The more people consume it, the more health conscious they become and the more products they buy.
There’s also a proliferation in digital content around the topic of health and wellness. A simple Google search for “health and wellness” yields over 500 million results, with a search volume of over 12,000 per month in the United States.
The point is, people are looking more and more for information about health and wellness, so naturally companies and content creators are producing content to support the demand for that information.
There’s also a wealth of non-biased information out there that aims to educate the general public about health, wellness, and nutrition.
Consumers are increasingly health-conscious because there’s a spike in interest on the topic — with Gen Z (anyone born from 1996 onwards) reporting an increased sensibility towards a healthy, balanced lifestyle, we don’t see this trend slowing down any time soon.
A shift in attitude towards health care
Medical professionals traditionally practice curative medicine — that is, they seek to cure existing medical conditions. However, preventative health care has become increasingly popular.
Many healthcare professionals now suggest a healthy lifestyle — from the food you eat to your level of activity — as the best means of preventing poor health. For one, it’s arguably cheaper than curative solutions. Secondly, it’s a proactive, empowering approach that yields numerous benefits other than simply “not being sick”. From 2000 to 2010, the number of healthcare professionals that recommended healthy eating and regular exercise to their patients rose by 10%.
As a result, disciplines like yoga have grown in popularity by 50% from 2012 until today. Gym memberships have almost doubled in popularity since 2000, now with over 60 million people in the US having one.
The market for fitness facilities and classes has never been more lucrative or popular than it is today, and a large part of that is due to a shift to preventative health care.
An industry fuelled by consumers
While there are many factors that have played a part in the health and fitness industry becoming the behemoth it is today, one thing remains at the core: a dramatic shift in consumer behavior to favor health over convenience.
Consumers are more informed than ever and are showing their values through the products and services they consume. While the fast-food industry suffers, healthier alternatives are growing. To survive, multinational fast-food chains like Burger King are introducing meatless alternatives to their classic Whopper, which claims to be a healthier choice and whose production is more environmentally sustainable.
While the health and fitness industry has certainly seen unprecedented growth in the past decade, its future looks equally bright. Retailers and restaurateurs that offer healthy, natural alternatives to synthetic products will ultimately attract more consumers and thrive long-term.