SUMMARY: Key healthcare trends like exercise snacks, dieting by addition, yoga therapy, and DIY healthcare start putting overwhelmed consumers back in control as CEOs of their own wellbeing, reports Leslie Nolen of The Radial Group.
The Radial Group's new 2011 Health and Wellness Insider's Guide to Durable Trends, Fleeting Fads & Innovative Ideas identifies healthcare trends which offer fresh opportunities for health and wellness businesses in 2011 and beyond, announced Leslie Nolen, president of The Radial Group.
Says Nolen, whose firm provides marketing services and profit strategies to health and wellness businesses, "Self-care, DIY healthcare trends, back-to-basics fitness and Lifestyle Change 2.0 trends put consumers back in control of their own health and wellness despite information overload and increasing complexity."
The Health and Wellness Insider's Guide discusses fitness trends, nutrition trends and healthcare trends plus conventional, complementary and alternative healthcare trends, obesity and diabetes, and longevity and aging.
Selected healthcare trends include:
1) Health mandates
Public health recommendations represent science mixed with a large dollop of organizational influences. As a result, public health guidelines lead or lag the best science - they're rarely aligned.
Yet public health recommendations will evolve into mandates as obesity and diabetes concerns rise. Examples include junk food taxes, sodium restrictions and restaurant calorie disclosure.
...of everything, including fitness and nutrition. Exercise prescriptions, yoga therapy, nutrigenomics, 'farmaceuticals'...and on and on.
When nearly every activity is labeled either 'Healthy' or 'Unhealthy,' new pressures surround consumers and burden previously simple pleasures.
Even a Fourth of July picnic poses challenges: Are the kids adequately hydrated (previously known simply as 'thirsty')? Great burgers! Um, what about carcinogens from grilling? Will that sunscreen cause a Vitamin D deficiency?
3) Information overload
Consumers face a baffling wave of ever-changing data plus conflicting recommendations. For example, experts disagree about how best to lower cholesterol, and whether cholesterol is even the right target.
As each day passes, they feel less and less capable of uncovering that coveted mix of health and wellness services that can truly address their problems.
4) Healthy skepticism
In a world where dietary fat's suddenly okay again, doctors don't routinely wash their hands and anyone can declare himself a wellness coach, who can blame people for viewing 'healthcare experts' cynically?
The result: surging consumerism led by 'healthy skeptics' who increasingly apply the habits of prudent consumers to healthcare and wellness - checking out certifications, patient reviews, and conflicts of interest, asking uncomfortable questions, investigating treatment alternatives and side-effects.
The good news: consumers will be exceptionally loyal to trusted advisors who help them navigate this morass.
5) Back to basics
The predictable response to complexity and uncertainty: getting back to basics.
For fitness, nutrition and healthcare trends, that means simplicity and self-reliance over complexity: functional fitness, naked labels, simple home cooking, gardening, whole foods, and non-drug non-surgical complementary, integrative and conventional healthcare trends like acupuncture and yoga therapy.
Alarming obesity and diabetes increases, rising healthcare costs, limited access to conventional healthcare and dissatisfaction with its results intensify the pressure on consumers to become 'CEOs of their own health and wellness.'
It's a big job: they've got to figure out how to enhance and preserve their wellbeing, prevent illness, control chronic health issues, seek out curative care, and find comfort at the end of life.
Self-care drives new healthcare behaviors, like diagnosis by Internet, new complementary and alternative healthcare trends, even 'undoctored by choice' consumers.
7) DIY health and wellness
There's some good news for overwhelmed consumers plus a boost for self-care and self-efficacy: the message that small-step, do-it-yourself wellness actually works.
In fact, research supports big health benefits from comparatively small changes - like exercise snacks or dieting through addition.
Yet information overload makes it impractical for many consumers to truly embrace this healthcare trend.
Wellness businesses will therefore respond to this healthcare trend by integrating the functional silos of fitness, nutrition, mind-body and healthcare:
8) Lifestyle Change 2.0
Lifestyle Change 1.0 - 'Eat less, move more' - was a dud. Successful lifestyle change requires actionable, individualized counsel, not superficial 'one size fits all' advice.
Nolen points out that "Consumers don't want to buy 'exercise' or 'nutrition' or 'diets.' They want to buy solutions for problems: How can I feel great every day? How can I manage my diabetes without drugs?"
The healthcare trends explored in the Health and Wellness Insider's Guide also fuel Nolen's vision of 'The Wellness Business of the Future', available upon request.
Preview all the healthcare trends plus fitness trends, weight loss, diet and nutrition trends, diabetes and obesity trends, and longevity and aging.
The Radial Group, headquartered in Dallas, TX, provides marketing services and strategy consulting for health and wellness businesses ranging from sole practitioners to well-established national brands.
Radial's free weekly Health & Wellness Business Advisor provides business tips tailored to health and wellness businesses.
The Radial Group