The Wellness Market is an anomaly, undefined and amorphous by definition yet potentially a game changer for how consumer products are marketed and sold.

On one hand it’s an economic torrent with some $2T a year estimated in spend.

On the other hand, it’s a completely ambiguous, self-defining category loosely covering everything from fitness to meditation, from workout apparel to fashion, from beauty products to self-help to nutrition.

At its core its simply a catchall  term for living a healthier life, embraced by Google and other corporate wellness teams, your local Vinyasa Yoga studio and business coaches alike.

It’s undefined, mostly leaderless and exploding from humble beginnings as a predominantly women’s yoga gathering idea with a few supportive brands a few years ago, to most everyone doing most anything.

It’s so vague it’s almost meaningless. It’s so core to a change in cultural perception, it cuts through everything, and feels solid and  just right.

Wellness is simply life with an ingrained healthy attitude towards how we want to exercise, work, eat and interact with people…and ourselves.

It’s still below the mass market surface but bubbling up as a strong foreshadowing of changing consumer behaviors that will transform our markets, and, to some degree, culture in general.

Is this an idea or a market, an aspiration or a reality?

This is the real deal.

Just a very different slant on a market change.

It’s easy to stereotype this as the juice drinking, LuluLemon wearing, stroller pushing, Yoga and Crossfit moms and dads with scads of expendable income and a fashionable bent towards health and wellness.

It’s easy to pooh-pooh this as the epitome of the $12 green juice trend.

It’s not.

This is about people, a huge cross section of the market spanning all economic strata, deciding how to spend their expendable income. I agree that it’s not for the economically challenged budget but it is not the purview of the rich either. It is about people choosing exercise, food, clothes, products in general that fit a conception of their own core values. Not religious or acerbic or whacked out,  just overtly healthy.

Healthy as a life choice and a point of view.

It’s also tied in some ineffable way to the rhythm that the social nets bring to our lives and sense of community, and the demand by the population that we have transparency in the goods and services we buy.

When you look at the wellness population, it’s clear that the same people doing Yoga and Pilates, making fitness and nutrition part of their lives are also riding bikes, adventure and wine tasting travel, starting companies, writing code, raising capital and families.

Wellness as an umbrella of beliefs is nothing less than the beginnings of a new market norm. More inclusive and aggregating as a community force then exclusionary and niche defining.

The thread that binds this wellness landscape together is neither income nor age.

If anything, this segment, and the culture mushrooming up around it, is very much about the enjoyment of how we live our lives and how we work. It’s touching how exercise enters our personal lives and equally how executive coaches are teaching pacing and balance to CEOs.

Do not side step this one as a hula hoop type trend.

It connects me personally to clients my son’s age. It connects people sitting next to someone else on the plane. It connects you to those you meet at an exercise class. It connects all of this to a new business perception of how to manage people and the stresses of our work lives.

Massive brands are paying serious attention. And it is not uncommon to see a billion dollar company and local artisanal brands team up to sponsor community activities around this theme. The consumer is the great equalizer and somehow, this sense of wellness is the glue tying the pieces together

It’s a bit ineffable but amazingly powerful once you get your head around a reconfiguration of the consumer marketplace with health and community and a sense of self empowerment at its core.

It’s a game changer for a host of segments that are still stuck in the old world.

I have a friend with a plan to disrupt the $60B weight loss industry by taking it out of the calorie counting reality of 25 years ago and toward what people need today, a coherent and body/mind/spirit process with support to feel and look better in every aspect of life.

This is not the only billion dollar pot of wellness gold out there.

A trend that will fizzle or a market change?

You know the old adage that ‘the future is here we just haven’t found it yet’?

What is happening with the wellness world is similar, as it has been percolating up from a core yoga niche and alternative nutrition enthusiasts. But uniquely different as this feels more like a rising tide of consumer perceptual change than a cross over or mainstreaming process.

As recently as a year ago, it was estimated that 1 in 4 women purchased under this category, and with trillions in sales, this is hardly a niche.

A market change this certainly is and it has brought some sweeping transformations with it that are ingrained into the fitness and food sectors already, but spreading into how fashion, self help, even tech and business solutions are being sold.

Two defining pieces jump out as core.

A rapid consumerization of the market. All markets.

Remember when there was a consumer and business market, when how products were sold depended on the characteristic of the product not the channel they were purchased through or the wants of the consumer?

That was the definition of niche marketing in a nutshell. Unique language to the product not the person.  This is fading and fast.

I see a predominant focus on the person as the single buyer, choosing products for family, personal, fitness, leisure and business all within the same vernacular.

Those of us who advise teams and fill whiteboards figuring out how beliefs become micro brands and brands markets, understand that this is not a subtle change at all.

Inclusiveness is the market side of an open web

Wellness at its core is about defining yourself by what you like, not by what your don’t. About connecting across differences and across category to find the binding thread.

This puts a pretty final nail in scarcity as a business model and exclusiveness as a market ploy.

The market wants frictionless, informed, fun, referential and participatory buying. In everything we buy from tomatoes to s-crm systems.

The market acid test

I’m steeped in this segment personally by investment and personality certainly, but to varying degrees most of the people across all the work that I do in many types of business, and friends from all walks of life, are part of this.

People generally are more aware of the impact of both how we eat and exercise impact our lives, but also on how our attitudes and poises in office and out, are more critical to not only mental health, but team building and productivity.

I see this as goodness.

The acid test here is not the staying power of the term, but the behavior. Not wellness as a category but people and how they want to interact and consume generally.

Whether wellness as a market or category will last over time is irrelevant.

If you push wellnes aside as a term, but embrace a sense of inclusiveness, a sense of being the market you are selling into, and address consumers cross category with the same sense of transparent openness and intent, it will be a win.

Regardless of what you sell.

That’s the test of changing markets. This one is fast becoming the status quo.