SAN LUIS OBISPO, California — A first-of-its-kind research study by fitness technology platform MINDBODY has ranked America’s top 50 major wellness markets, providing valuable insight for new and established businesses in the sector.
The MINDBODY Wellness Index, released earlier this month, crowned Austin-Round Rock, Texas, as the strongest major metro, with California’s Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area as the weakest.
But despite the latter’s low score, the data indicated the west and south regions are considerably stronger than the northeast and midwest wellness markets. In fact, four of the top ten wellness markets were located in the state of California.
Scores gathered from a survey of 16,412 individuals across the US between October and November 2018, were based on consumer attitudes and behaviour, and analysis of the business performance of wellness companies in the area. The results, according to Rick Stollmeyer, MINDBODY CEO and co-founder, show the wellness market across the US is strong overall, but there is considerable room for opportunity.
“The wellness industry is poised for growth and based on our research there is clearly enormous opportunity for wellness products and services to expand in the years ahead,” said Stollmeyer.
“Yet even the strongest wellness markets in our index hold room for improvement,” he added, citing the Washington D.C. area where only 40% of residents rate fitness as a priority.
Strikingly the findings revealed fewer than half Americans report a desire to prioritise fitness in their lives, with time and cost the main barriers to leading and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“Our purpose is to help people lead healthier, happier lives by connecting the world to wellness,” the report reads. “With this in mind, we created the MINDBODY Wellness Index to measure and monitor the state of the wellness industry in America – from both the business and the consumer sides.”
Factors that measured the health of wellness businesses included revenue per capita adjusted
for cost of living expenses, the density of wellness businesses in a particular Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), and revenue per staff service hour.
Using this data, the top 50 MSAs were ranked based on a score out of 100. The strongest – the Austin-Round Rock region in Texas – achieved a peak score of 55.8, nearly 10 points above the average index score.
The Austin-Round Rock result reflected a “robust demand for wellness services and an equally strong supply of service providers to answer these consumer needs”.
According to the report, Austin-Round Rock residents spend the most on wellness services each month, while wellness businesses are ultra-efficient, generating high revenue per capita per staff service hour.
By contrast, the Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario area of California which scored the lowest with 38.8, 7.3 below the average, had the equal lowest density of wellness businesses per square mile.
HOW TO BREAK AMERICA
Follow MINDBODY’s three rules for success on where and how to launch your wellness business in the US.
Follow the crowd
A saturated wellness market shouldn’t put you off setting up in the same location, says Amaya Weddle, Ph.D., Director, Product Marketing and Research at MINDBODY. “A healthy supply of wellness business services – as the Wellness Index identified in the strongest market of Austin-Round Rock – can create a network effect for similar businesses to thrive.”
“Make sure you’re offering what’s hot now – or what will be hot next,” says Weddle. “In the US, 27% of adults participate in group fitness once a week or more and we anticipate this number to grow as boutique fitness style classes increase.”
The Index also shows kickboxing, martial arts and CrossFit classes gaining a lot of interest among Generation Z and Millenials, while yoga is now the most popular group exercise modality across all adult age groups in the US. “As practices like meditation and ‘unplugging’ grow in popularity, there’s strong evidence that fitness disciplines incorporating mental as well as physical aspects will continue to rise in popularity.
Believe you can make a difference
Above all, the Wellness Index shows there is plenty of opportunity to make an impact in the US. “Only 28% of Americans place a high value on the importance of fitness,” highlights Weddle.
“Even cities like Austin that boast the highest scores in our Wellness Index (58/100) show huge room for growth. This leaves plenty of opportunity for wellness businesses to step up and play a part in helping make Americans healthier and happier.
How? By engaging them, offering support and motivation and helping break down the levels of intimidation that often come when trying a new workout or service.”
Key findings of the Top 5:
1 Austin-Round Rock, Texas
Highest demand. Businesses in Austin generate the most revenue per capita and experience the highest influx of new consumers to wellness businesses.
2 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California
Best catered. Has the highest density of businesses per square mile (2.7/square mile).
3 Raleigh, North Carolina
Streamlined service. Businesses enjoy very high revenue per capita per staff service hour. Raleigh is also the 3rd most smoke-free MSA after Washington, D.C. and San Jose.
4 Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colorado Multiple players.
Highest percentage of consumers who have visited more than one wellness business and second-highest revenue per capita after Austin.
5 Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Massachusetts-New Hampshire
Dedicated audience. 76% of consumers exercise at least once a week, closely behind the highest of 79% reported in San Diego-Carlsbad, California.
Other key findings:
Highest level of fitness: New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA
Lowest level of fitness: Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY
Highest density of wellness businesses: San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
Lowest density of wellness businesses: Salt Lake City, UT
Highest prioritisation of fitness: Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
Lowest prioritisation of fitness: Oklahoma City, OK