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The Skift Wellness newsletter is our weekly dispatch focused on what’s happening in wellness from a global business standpoint. Skift Wellness lives where wellness meets commerce, mindfulness meets technology, the yoga studio meets the boardroom, and health meets business.
It’s that time of year again — when emails proclaiming “New Year, New You!” and “Drop 10 pounds by February!” flood inboxes everywhere. It’s the typical diet company tactic: Target people who want to shed holiday weight, as well as those who set big weight-loss resolutions for the new year, and gain thousands of new customers.
WW, the brand formerly known as Weight Watchers, is taking a different approach by emphasizing its focus on wellness instead of on weight loss –– after all, its new slogan is “Wellness that Works.” WW recently made additional moves into the wellness sphere by choosing Kate Hudson, actress and co-founder of athleisure brand Fabletics, as its new brand ambassador, as well as partnering with meal kit service Blue Apron to focus more on healthy eating and less on “point-counting.” This sends a clear message that WW is all about living a healthy lifestyle, and shedding pounds is just a byproduct of that.
This shift away from overt weight-loss marketing and the hiring of someone so clearly in the wellness (as opposed to weight loss) space could appeal to millennials, who are looking to improve their overall well-being instead of solely focusing on the number on the scale. Thus, it may be a smart way for WW to grow its audience and stay relevant.
On the other hand, choosing Hudson may push away loyalists who do want to focus on weight loss and feel their trusted brand is leaving them behind. Some backlash on Twitter has already begun.
We’ll see what 2019 has in store for WW –– and if the new hire of Hudson and the “Wellness that Works” slogan does indeed work for the company.
— Leslie Barrie, Wellness Editor
Mind & Body
WW Commits to Wellness With Its New Ambassador, Kate Hudson: To further distance itself from its Weight Watchers name of the past, WW made a bold wellness move by bringing on Kate Hudson as a brand ambassador. Unlike its other celebrity spokespeople, she’s not necessarily known for her weight-loss struggles — her goal is to drop the 25 pounds she gained during pregnancy by living a healthy lifestyle. The selection of Hudson shows the brand is all in on wellness. But will it come at the expense of alienating its core audience?
Beauty & Spa
The Rise of Functional Fragrances: Why just spray yourself with a scent if another fragrance can actually do something for you (for example, help you manage stress, feel energized, or balance your mood)? That’s the idea behind “functional fragrances.” These scents are designed to not only smell good, but give you a wellness benefit, too. Brands like The Nue Co. (a supplement company) and Osea (a clean beauty brand) are getting in on the elevated aromatherapy trend that’s likely to grow in 2019.
The Lowdown on StretchLab and How Stretching Became Cool Again: Is stretching the new yoga? Not yet, but it’s a new up-and-coming boutique wellness trend, as more StretchLab locations pop up across the country. New York City alone saw two new stretching studios open in 2018, Stretch*d and Lymbr. The goal is to help customers get rid of some of those aches they acquire from sitting in front of screens all day (and from, presumably, all the fitness classes they’re taking). Time will tell if people are willing to pay a premium for greater flexibility.
Food & Drink
Coca-Cola Invests in Dirty Lemon’s Parent Company, Iris Nova: Proving yet again that food and beverage giants want in on the wellness action, Coca-Cola led a $15 million investment round for Iris Nova, the company that makes Dirty Lemon –– a brand known for its turmeric, ginseng, and charcoal-infused waters; text-to-buy business model; and steep prices. The partnership will likely improve Dirty Lemon’s reach, but could turn off health-minded loyalists who may be leery of the behemoth soda brand’s influence.
Full-Fat Yogurt Is Poised for a Comeback: Full-fat milk got a bad rap during the fat-free and low-fat diet trends of decades past. But that’s changing, thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of the ketogenic diet –– which requires filling your plate with high-fat foods –– and the realization among health experts that there’s likely a place in a well-balanced diet for full-fat dairy. In a time when Greek yogurt sales are stagnating and there’s mounting competition from dairy alternatives, this could be music to the industry’s ears.
Walgreens and Alphabet’s Verily Brand Team Up to Tackle Healthcare Costs: In a new partnership, Walgreens is tapping Alphabet’s health-tech brand Verily to help customers with chronic conditions stick to their prescribed medicine regimes (better adherence presumably keeps patient and overall healthcare costs down). Both Walgreens and its rival, CVS, recently announced that they’re prioritizing lowering consumer healthcare costs. Collaborating with the tech giant could be a smart step in that direction.
Skift Wellness Editor Leslie Barrie [firstname.lastname@example.org] curates the Skift Wellness newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.