‘Wellness’ for today’s consumer has become an amalgamation of a healthy lifestyle and indulgence in healthcare practices, complementing existing scientific and medical approaches in health and wellness industry.
Today, people from all walks of life understand the importance of keeping their body and mind in shape. The term ‘health & wellness’ has bloomed the wider idea of self enhancement and rejuvenation in order to achieve a balanced lifestyle. Don’t you think the quote, ‘wellness feeds your soul and makes you feel good’ implies to our daily lifestyle? For me it does; After all, amid a hectic lifestyle and multi task performance, we tend to neglect our body and mind. To give you an insight, India cements itself at the vanguard of today’s global spa and wellness market, attracting domestic and international visitors with the timeless traditions of Ayurveda, yoga and high quality and affordable medical tourism.
All set to become the fifth largest consumer market globally by 2020, India demonstrates all the demographic advantages of an ideal market for leading international spa and wellness brands. Today, India flaunts a 350 middle-class, notably large youth population, 50% of which are under the age of 25, rising levels of disposable income and associated increases in overall aspirations and experimentation, as well as obesity, related health issues and consciousness. Observing these factors, one can be sure about wellness and spa as industry to grow at a mammoth scale in times to come.
In India, the concept of wellness has been spliced into various aspects of local culture through the tradition and practice of Ayurveda and yoga, which originated in the foothills of the Himalayas. Today, it’s not surprising to witness domestic and international tourists flocking to the southwestern region of Kerala for specialised Ayurvedic treatments. It is peculiar to learn that yoga still remains uncommercialised in India (where it started) as compared to other popular yoga destinations such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo and Singapore, which have witnessed new studios open in abundance. International health and wellness tourists, particularly from the Middle East, are marching into India in record numbers. Growing 24% in 2011, and attracting roughly 45% of the world’s medical tourists on an annual basis, India’s medical tourism industry has thrived under the speculation of strong government support, low costs, advanced equipments, skilled practitioners and large private investments.
The wellness and Spa market in India has not only emerged trendy in the last decade or so, but has also baited mouthwater business oppurtunites for various sections like hotel and destination spas.
According to studies, there is a strong opportunity to develop internationally standardised hotel spa, as well as destination and day spa that offers full range of amenities, similar to those in spa-mature markets in the region, such as Hong Kong and Singapore. Options like thermal bathing, advanced beauty treatments, medispa services, and male grooming are becoming increasingly popular around the world. However, India still needs to open its eyes and explore application of these trends within its own spa and wellness market. There is mammoth potential for owners to capitalise on the development quotient by designing full service spa facilities with anticipated hotel growth and demand. Many luxury hotel brands have already made heavy investments along these lines; however, the full potential of this space has yet to be realised. Following the trend, a number of destination spas are currently in planning and development stages across the country.
Beyond aggressive marketing, branding, conceptualising and designing of the day spa, it is equally important that robust operational structures should be put in place. Spa and wellness brand owners and operators should understand their target market and implement marketing strategies that effectively capture the market as intended. To specify further and take an example, domestic and international sp guests should ideally be treated as two different market segments based on difference in preferences, behaviours, values, cultures and likes and dislikes. Hence, owners and operators need to objectively analyze the impact of geographic location and surrounding infrastructure on both segments. Also, many consumers are very staunch about the brand they follow, so owners and operators should choose the product range that has a global reach and pulling power. India’s fast pace evolving economy, matured population and broadminded consumerism present limitless opportunities for spa developers, owners and operators to breathe innovation and inspiration into the local wellness market.
The amalgamation of above mentioned factors make Indian market ideal for development and promotion of overall expanded definition of health, rejuvenation and luxury beyond traditional concept of Ayurveda and Yoga. However, according to me, growth must not be limited to places like Kerala or Himalayas, when considerable opportunities and strong demand exist for the development of spa and wellness oases both within and near urban centres.