Some key steps to ecommerce success in the health and wellbeing sector
The global health and wellbeing industry is going through a period of rapid expansion.
As more and more people around the world show an interest in products to improve their overall health and fitness, ecommerce businesses are presented with a range of opportunities.
However, in an increasingly competitive marketplace, brands must find the right strategies to stand out and win customers.
A $4.2 trillion industry
The sheer size and recent growth of the health and wellbeing industry was underlined in a recent report from the Global Wellness Institute, which showed that the sector is expanding at a "historic rate" – nearly twice as fast as the world economy.
Globally, the wellness industry was estimated to be worth $4.2 trillion (£3.3 trillion), with personal care, beauty and anti-aging ($1.08 trillion), healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss ($702 billion), wellness tourism ($639 billion), and fitness and mind-body health ($595 billion) among the leading sub-sectors.
The industry now represents 5.3 per cent of global economic output, having grown by 6.4 per cent annually between 2015 and 2017.
Katherine Johnston, senior research fellow at GWI, noted that one of the most significant trends of recent years has been a change in consumer attitudes. People are increasingly viewing health and wellbeing as a dominant, ongoing priority in their lives, as opposed to an occasional concern.
"A wellness mindset is starting to permeate the global consumer consciousness, affecting people's daily decision-making – whether food purchases, a focus on mental wellness and reducing stress, incorporating movement into daily life, environmental consciousness, or their yearning for connection and happiness," she added.
"Wellness, for more people, is evolving from rarely to daily, from episodic to essential, from a luxury to a dominant lifestyle value. And that profound shift is driving powerful growth."
This is clearly a time of great potential for ambitious brands in the health and wellbeing industry, so what can your business do to make the most of its growth opportunities?
Invest in your brand
The global health and wellbeing industry encompasses numerous companies that have built their success on a strong, clear and recognisable brand identity.
Branding is more important in this sector than most, owing to the high level of personal investment and dedication so many people give to health and wellbeing products. Customers are looking for brands they can trust to deliver on goals that are highly important to them as an individual, such as changing their appearance or improving their fitness.
Establishing your brand and building up a loyal following in your home country is a challenge in itself, but expanding into new markets creates entirely new questions and tests for your firm.
One of your key priorities should be to deliver content that is effectively translated and tailored to achieve maximum results in foreign markets, but retains your core brand identity. This is where localisation is invaluable.
Build personal relationships
Personalisation is a trend that is proving increasingly important in the health and wellbeing industry, and indeed across ecommerce as a whole.
People want to feel that they are recognised as an individual and that the brands they choose to buy from are in tune with their unique needs and preferences. It's no longer good enough for ecommerce merchants to take a 'one size fits all' approach to serving their customers.
Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of consumers state that personalisation influences their brand loyalty, while more than half (52 per cent) would move away from brands that don't personalise their communications, according to research by Salesforce.
Major brands like Amazon and ASOS are driving this trend across ecommerce as a whole, but businesses of all sizes, across all sectors, need to keep up to avoid being left behind and seeming out of touch.
Personalisation is based on techniques such as relevant product recommendations, but it also requires brands to build loyal and trusting relationships with their customers, which is very difficult to do without natural and appropriate language.
Leverage social media
Like most other ecommerce sectors, health and wellbeing is becoming increasingly reliant on social media as a channel to market products, engage with customers and drive online traffic.
As consumers spend more and more time on the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, brands that aspire to global growth simply must have clear strategies for optimising their presence on social media and making the most of its potential.
Speaking at a Cosmopolitan Business of Fitness event, nutritional coach Madeleine Shaw highlighted social media as one of the most powerful platforms for businesses to gauge consumer opinions and build relationships.
"Reply to people as much as you can on social media and over email," she advised. "It's so important when creating a brand, and it makes people feel special and connected. Then they'll want to come back to you."
Most people are accustomed to relaxed, informal conversations over social media, so if your brand is targeting new, international audiences, it's important to have the local language expertise to communicate with customers, respond to feedback and answer questions in a natural way.
Done properly, social media engagement and content creation can be some of the most powerful tools to build your brand, win customers and seize opportunities in the fast-growing health and wellbeing industry.
Image credit: kieferpix via iStock