Market Well: How Wellness Festivals Can Benefit Your Business

Our must-read column, Market Well, explores the key marketing strategies that are essential for the growth of a wellness business.

Every month, Vicky Ellison, who is also the Director of Marketing for Equinox in the UK, examines how brands can create and maintain a marketing campaign that connects with both their intended audience and potential investors.

Providing valuable insight into the methods, services, and tools needed for both new and established businesses to drive exposure and boost brand value, this month Vicky is focusing on the benefits of participating in wellness festivals….

At the start of this year, the Evening Standard suggested that its readers swap their usual summer of music festivals for a line up of wellness festivals. Now we’re fully into the season it’s easy to see why.

If you’re London-based you couldn’t have failed to notice the buzz surrounding the Be:FIT and Balance Festivals this past month; their branding dominated websites, print media and the Underground.

There’s no doubt that live wellness experiences draw a crowd. But with so many options, how do you decide if a wellness festival is right for you? And if so, where and how should your brand show up?

Here are few things to consider when making your decision.

What is your objective?

Knowing your reason for being at a festival, and having measures in place to track the return on your investment is important — it will help you establish whether it is an effective tactic and if it is the best option for your brand.

Your reason could vary from brand exposure or product sampling to data capture, new customer acquisition or revenue generation. Whatever the reason, make sure you have a goal in mind as that will guide your decision-making.

When you look at exhibition options, you should also take the time to consider whether you can achieve your goal more effectively through other tactics. This way you’ll be sure that what you’re doing is best for your business.


First thing’s first, can you afford to be at the event? Look into every aspect, from the sponsorship costs to investment in the stall, sample products, staffing costs, travel and expenses. Exhibition costs can quickly creep up.

It’s also important to look at the impact of having your team out of the business for the duration of the event, as it is likely you will want to feature your best players as the faces of your brand.

If you can afford the sponsorship but have to skimp on the activation setup, will that create the impression you desire? This is an aspect that should always be considered before looking at the benefits your potential show has to offer.

And if you have the budget how do you know if it’s a smart investment? The next areas of consideration should help.

Choose the right event for your purpose

If your brand is based in science it could seem obvious that a festival focused on spirituality probably isn’t the right choice, even if it attracts thousands of guests.

Choose an event that aligns with your brand mission and positioning. There are multiple events within the wellness sector, each with a slightly different target; whether that’s Be:FIT’s female focus, Fare Healthy’s food focus or Lovefit’s emphasis on music in fitness.

You may wish to use a wider lens and look outside of wellness to ensure your chosen event meets your objective. Sports drinks brand Gatorade showcased its scientific background by partnering with tech brands at SXSW, the international festival of interactive media, film and innovation. Gatorade’s activation was named by AdWeek as one of the best in show. The exhibit supported its positioning as a science-backed performance brand for athletes, showcased on a global stage.

Who are the audience and what is the reach?

Event organisers should be able to share information on their marketing plans and budget, their database and target audience. It’s not enough for the organiser to simply set up a good event; as a business owner, you have to be confident that their promotional plans will reach your desired audience in a noticeable way.

Balance Festival launched a promotional plan prior to running its event. This included underground advertising, influencer events, social promotion and distribution of their own-branded complimentary magazine. The campaign reached thousands of potential guests, giving partner brands numerous exposure opportunities.

Event appeal

With so many events available to consumers now, you will want to be sure that the event you choose appeals to your target audience. Look at the lineup for the festival, which other brands are on board? Do they have appealing speakers? If the list looks similar to other events out there, why will consumers choose to attend that event?

Does the location fit with your brand approach and aesthetic? Wanderlust promotes its event mission as helping you find your true North, to be your best self. Behind that promise it has 7 brand pillars including fostering community and acting sustainably. The locations it chooses for its events, and the partners it brings on board support that focus and it attracts globally respected headline speakers each year.

Partner brands, competitors and your activation opportunity

When reviewing the lineup consider the opportunity for your brand and compare that to other brands at the event. If a competitor brand is a headline feature will this be the right area for you to appear?

At Leisure Industry Week, Technogym have had a large branded presence for over a decade. The wellness company uses the show to launch its latest innovations supporting its position as leaders in the wellness solutions space.

Try to find out how other brands are planning to activate so you can plan something that will add value to the event. Showcase your brand in an interesting way that fits with your approach. It could be something simple – at Balance Festival, Brita sponsored the main studio classes with its on-the-go water filter bottles. The partnership meant its new product got into the hands of a fitness-savvy crowd who are likely to take the bottle with them into studios across London, further promoting the product launch.

Participate? Or Own?

Depending on the size and bandwidth of your brand you could consider owning an event in the space rather than participating at someone else’s.

Lululemon took that step in London last year by creating a festival known as Sweatlife. The event brought its yoga ambassadors, goal setting philosophies and passion for social sweating together under one roof.

Across the pond, Equinox created the High-Performance Living Symposium — a summit of the brightest minds advancing the fields of movement, nutrition and regeneration, featuring members of the brand’s health advisory board. The event allowed guests to attend virtually, as well as stream the content. This way people from all around the world were able to benefit from innovative insights into performance maximisation, which is the mission behind the brand.