Australian wellness brands develop apps and build communities

  • Established health and fitness companies have transformed their offerings to join the burgeoning holistic wellness space.
  • Along with startups such as the local fitness app, Sweat and Fitness influencers, companies are now marketing products and services that go beyond physical appearance.
  • The wellness market is now focused on apps and building a “thriving online community”.
  • Visit the Business Insider Australia homepage for more stories.

As the health and wellness industry has exploded in recent years, with tech-driven organizations like Peloton and Sweat capturing market share and reshaping the industry, established brands have been rushing to adapt. , pivoting to adopt a new approach that values ​​a more holistic approach to health. .

A notable example is Weight Watchers, the US-based company that was a household name in the 90s but fell out of favor in the early 2000s.

As the Western wellness industry transformed its values ​​to align with the ideals of the body positivity movement, companies like Weight Watchers, which prioritized rapid weight loss through a calorie counting system. and “points”, lost business and brand value.

Over the past five years, however, Weight Watchers – which has a global reach spanning Australia and New Zealand – has rebranded itself as WW, launched an app, and has worked hard to sell its new. brand image in an informed and highly competitive digital market.

Nicole McInnes, Marketing Director for WW Australia and New Zealand, was behind this push in Australia.

“Our strategy is to really make sure people understand what WW stands for now, which is more about the holistic health and wellness of everyone, regardless of their shape or size,” said McInnes.

Due to the strong brand awareness, the company had to fight for people to know that “it’s no longer just a meeting business” but an “online health and wellness app” with other major brands.

There is an application for that

The contemporary fitness market is now app-centric, whether the core product is a piece of equipment, like Peloton, or a workout tracker, like the Australian workout app Sweat, which recently sold for $ 400 million. dollars to global fitness company iFIT. .

In a 2018 survey, 47% of Australians polled said they had used a health app.

Fitness influencers have also flooded this market, creating their own personalized fitness apps as an additional source of income.

These apps typically mirror content offered by large fitness companies, with instructional videos made by the influencer, as well as recipes and other resources.

And as tech-driven fitness has grown, the weight loss industry, which was once a big business, has lost.

The market size of the Australian Weight Loss Services industry has shrunk by 1.5% per year on average between 2016 and 2021 as it faced competition from gyms and a new wave of companies. health and fitness.

This is the reason why WW and others pivoted to rename themselves in order to align with the new breed societies.

Nicole McInnes, Marketing Director for WW Australia and New Zealand.

McInnes said WW is now primarily a “digital health and wellness solution,” with nearly 80% of Australian and New Zealand members following the program through the app alone.

This strategy is working for the company, she said, with more than 100,000 active users in the ANZ region and a digital subscriber base that has grown by more than 25% in 2020.

Withdraw from extremes

Libby Gray, director of marketing and operations at Michelle Bridges Group, told Business Insider Australia that the industry as a whole “has moved away from just focusing on weight loss, calorie counting and the approach ” all or nothing “”.

Even for the company, which started 11 years ago following the success of personal trainer Michelle Bridges’ grueling 12-week weight loss program on the Network Ten reality show. The biggest loser, marketing around weight loss as an end goal is no longer the main message.

“The industry is now focusing more on total wellness and a balanced mindset,” Gray said.

Since its founding, the company has exploded into a large-scale health brand covering an app and 16 programs dedicated to specific categories, targeting men, pregnant women and those over 50 to name a few. -a.

Gray said the expansion of the services offered went beyond growing the business. Delivering digital services was now essential for success in the space, she said.

Tushar Menon, co-founder of health food company My Muscle Chef (MYMC), told Business Insider Australia that the number of people who buy their products has grown significantly since the company’s inception, which he founded with his brother in 2013.

“As a full-time worker and gym goer, much of my night was spent in the kitchen preparing meals,” Menon said.

His business was born out of a desire to find ready-made meals tailored to specific fitness goals in a market dominated by “generic brands for middle-aged people who want to lose weight”.

“There was nothing for people who wanted performance nutrition to fuel their workouts like me. “

While the company started out as a solution to Menon’s desire to create a product that would meet his needs – prefabricated high-protein meals that would help him achieve his physical goals at the gym – over time, the company broadened his perspective around who his clients could be.

“At first we thought our main client was primarily interested in meals that would improve their athletic performance and muscle gains, so we started with a mindset that combined the best of a personal trainer and a chef. “said Menon.

But the space has evolved as more and more high-quality options have entered the market.

The clientele of prefabricated, healthy foods has grown from gym junkies. And busy professionals who once would have stocked their refrigerators with frozen food now expect a premium product.

“Eight years later, we’ve transformed our menu to include options suitable for a wider variety of fitness goals and outcomes,” said Menon.

“Today, MYMC isn’t just for traditional gym enthusiasts; in fact, almost 50% of our customers are women and 60% of our customers choose MYMC for convenience. “

People expect more from health and fitness companies

McInnes said the WW redesign was based on the realization that consumers now expect more from brands.

As a result, what was once known as its members is now a “thriving online community”. The interface of the WW app mimics Instagram and offers new features such as 24-hour access to nutrition coaches and a mindfulness program created in collaboration with mediation company Headspace.

The program was designed to appeal to consumers looking for services that take a holistic approach to weight loss, McInnes said.

“We added Headspace meditations in 2018 alongside the rebranding to holistic wellness because we knew we just had to get people to think positively about themselves to be successful on their journey,” he said. she declared.

Another addition to the program was sleep tracking. “Sleep is another thing that has a real impact on weight loss and well-being, so it was very important to put sleep in the app so that people could just be aware that their entire health is affected. – and can be tracked and improved with this app. “

The Michelle Bridges group has taken a similar path, Gray said, with an app that features 1,200 recipes and “hundreds of workout videos that we keep adding to.”

Menon said MYMC has adopted a “coach” mentality in the way it sells and markets to its consumers, with a newsletter, blog, and “goal-based” plans that seek to educate and personalize its offer.

This shift in mindset has “manifested itself in shifting our focus to the holistic benefits of good nutrition,” Menon said. “We are really focused on instilling body positivity by providing accessible and nutritious meals to support every goal and not just providing fuel for workouts.”

He said this approach is part of what has driven the company’s growth in recent years – significantly expanding its product line and adding breakfast, snack and beverage options.

“We are well established in the food and fitness business, but our reach [now] extends beyond these worlds, ”Menon explained. “We focus on our personal relationships with our customers.

“We’re not just a ready-made meal service, but here to give customers the support and inspiration they need to lead active and healthy lives.

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