Riding Asia’s Wellness Wave to Boost Your Brand

By Sophie Campbell and Jonathan Smetherham, 2CV 

We are now well into 2023, and while some of us have been better than others at sticking to our hastily made New Year’s resolutions to get fit, one thing is for sure: the health and wellness industry is booming across Southeast Asia. In this article, we delve into the key trends, what they tell us about evolving lifestyles, and how brands can leverage them to make their mark.

The wellness revolution

The pandemic brought about seismic shifts in the fitness industry: traditional gym-goers pivoted to alternative forms of exercise, and the use of technology to track and monitor fitness also experienced a surge. But this is only half the story. It has been a long road towards the current proliferation of available services, tools, and solutions for better health.

In February 2023, 2CV and PureSpectrum surveyed Singaporeans to understand emerging consumer attitudes. A staggering 78% predicted that the wellness trend will continue to grow well into the future. Only 2% think it is a passing fad. While it is difficult to make generalisations across Southeast Asian markets, these stats give us a sense of the changing priorities in people’s lives. Any business-to-consumer brand would be wise to take note, as this offers a pathway to customer acquisition.

Convenience and community

With a focus on convenience and comfort, in-home fitness equipment has come a long way from being a low-cost alternative to the gym. At the cutting edge, leading brands in the connected-equipment space (e.g. Peloton) provide a stand-alone, complete fitness experience. 

At the same time, global mobile fitness apps have gained popularity in Southeast Asia. Global brands MyFitnessPal and YAZIO offer a wide range of options for staying active and tracking progress, positioning themselves as gateways to fitness-minded communities.

Wearables are a hit with busy parents

Wearable fitness devices, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, have risen in popularity in Southeast Asia by tapping into preferences for convenience and personalisation. Popular devices include budget options Xiaomi Mi Band and HUAWEI Band, Fitbit for dedicated fitness tracking, and Apple/Samsung Galaxy watches for more holistic offerings with premium features. According to our data, wearables currently have niche appeal with specific groups – for example, among gamers (who are generally more tech savvy) and parents (who find them to be an easy way to incorporate fitness into busy routines).

Levelling up

Gamification leverages psychological principles and game design elements (such as point scores, leaderboards, levels, and challenges) to make exercising more fun and motivating. It engages fitness enthusiasts outside of traditional gym settings. Examples include PlayFitt, which uses behavioural psychology to get users hooked on a healthy lifestyle, Peloton Lanebreak, which features bike racing with opportunities to earn points, and Gymbox’s Power Battle cycling class, which uses visual displays to motivate participants. 

Out of this world

According to Allied Market Research, the virtual reality (VR) fitness industry was worth around $6 billion in 2019 and is predicted to grow to $60 billion by 2027. It is gaining attention because it has the potential to expand accessibility and attract wide user bases. Immersive experiences may appeal not only to fitness enthusiasts, but also to those who don’t enjoy traditional exercise or have physical limitations. 

Some early innovators in this space include Les Mills, which launched a new fitness app that combines its popular BODYCOMBAT workout with VR technology. The app, which can be used with the Meta Quest VR headset, takes users on an immersive fitness journey through dreamlike environments, where they punch and kick their way through a range of targets and obstacles. Meanwhile, Meta’s recent acquisition of Within VR/Supernatural (which features high-quality workouts set in realistic virtual landscapes, paired with top-tier music) is a significant milestone for immersive technology, as it continues to invest in VR despite some setbacks.

How can you leverage this for brand success?

First of all, health purchases are personal and authenticity is a prerequisite for success. If a brand’s story is not within stretching distance of health or wellness, that narrative should not be forced. 

But at the same time, Ehrenberg-Bass principles of brand growth tell us that brands grow by increasing mental and physical availability. Many brands fall within the ecosystem of health and wellness when seen through the lens of category entry points, which capture the associations that category buyers have as they transition into making a category purchase across five occasion types (why, when, where, with whom, and with what they are buying the product). To grow, brands need to build mental structures between their products and buying situations. This might, for example, mean associating your beverage brand with ‘a healthy option after an at-home workout’, or associating your clothing range with ‘everyday attire that I can wear and still hit 10,000 steps a day’. 

At 2CV, we try to guide our clients towards solutions that are centred on these principles. If you would like to know more about how we do this, reach out to us at singapore@2cv.com. You can also download our latest market trend reports from https://www.2cv.com/ahead-of-the-curve/ to stay one step ahead of the competition in Southeast Asia’s rapidly evolving market.

Seize the moment, elevate your brand, and make your mark.

This article was first published in the Q1 2023 edition of Asia Research Media

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *