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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.
Early January means CES is in full swing in Las Vegas, and while giants like Apple and Intel may snag the biggest headlines, health and wellness tech products are also having a moment. Take breast pumps, for example (yes, people are buzzing about breast pumps). Willow, a wearable breast pump that was a CES darling in 2017, is back with a next-generation model for 2019 –– though it may face tough competition from the UK-based startup Elvie, which announced at this year’s CES that it has received U.S. Food and Drug Administration clearance to market its pump to U.S. consumers. Both are priced at $499 per pump, showing there’s big money to be made in women’s health.
Beauty brands have also been showing off their tech-meets-wellness advances at CES, including wearable patches from L’Oréal that read your skin’s pH levels, then alert you about the best products (in its own line, of course) based on your skin needs. It may seem like a gimmick, but it could be a game-changer for people with conditions such as eczema.
In other wellness tech news, digital fitness marketplace ClassPass recently acquired GuavaPass, a Singapore-based startup that operates with a similar business model. Since ClassPass is looking to continue its global expansion, it’s probably a smart strategy to gain some ground.
We’ll be keeping our eye on other wellness tech launches throughout the year. Based on the growing demand for wellness, there will likely be a lot to cover.
— Leslie Barrie, Wellness Editor
There’s Big Tech Business in Smart Breast Pumping: The Willow breast pump launched to much fanfare at CES in 2017. It was the first cord-free wearable (and quiet) pump to fit inside a bra. The feedback, however, was mixed. Women loved the convenience, but discovered there was a steep learning curve. There were even some reports of injuries owing to design issues. Willow recently unveiled its 2.0 version at CES 2019, addressing those “pain points” –– though now it must also contend with rival brand Elvie for space in the market.
L’Oréal Creates Wearable Tech to Personalize Skincare Products: In an effort to show that beauty tech can solve wellness woes, L’Oréal debuted its skin patches last year at CES that track exposure to harmful ultraviolet rays. It’s showcasing a different kind of wearable at CES this year: a patch that reads your skin’s pH levels. That information is then used to recommend products from L’Oréal’s La Roche-Posay brand to best help with your specific skin condition, whether that’s eczema, dryness, or some other ailment. Considering the hype around personalized wellness, L’Oréal would be wise to get the patches to market as soon as possible.
ClassPass Acquires Global Competitor GuavaPass: In a sprint to continue global expansion, fitness marketplace company ClassPass acquired GuavaPass, an international rival that’s already carved a niche in Asian markets where ClassPass is looking to grow. Thanks to this recent buy, ClassPass is now in 11 countries and more than 80 markets, with no plans to slow down. It aims to launch in 50 new cities in 2019. Growth is one of ClassPass’ top priorities, so picking up GuavaPass was a smart way to quickly gain ground and cut out key a competitor.
Skift Call January 16: Why Travel Needs to Shake Off the Gloom in 2019: Even though the wellness industry is thriving, you’re probably hearing a lot of doomsday forecasts for 2019. Global recession. Stock market rout. Runaway inflation. But when it comes to travel, our forecast isn’t so dreary. We’re here to give you the flip side for how travel could be just fine this year. Join us for the call at 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, January 16 and discover how we could be in for a solid year of travel growth.
Digital Health Startup Omada Moves from Tackling Diabetes to Depression: Diabetes and depression sometimes go hand in hand, so when co-founder and CEO of Silicon Valley startup Omada Health noticed how many people on its diabetes treatment program were also battling depression and anxiety, he decided the company would take on the psychological issues of its customers, too. Omada is now partnering with mental health startup Lantern to offer cognitive behavioral therapy. It’s a smart move, considering these problems don’t exist in a vacuum.
Food & Drink
How Online Wellness Grocer Thrive Market Took Off: At first, investors doubted that there would be a literal market for Thrive Market, a membership-based grocer (like Costco) that sells natural and organic food products at a discounted price online. But the company found its base with budget-minded moms, and its private label has recently taken off. The company serves an important need as the wellness industry attempts to democratize. But will Amazon’s Whole Foods inevitably steamroll Thrive Market’s early success?
Mind & Body
How Self-Improvement Became a Commodity: Momentum, Done, HabitMinder, Habit List … these are only a few of the dozens of apps out there that aim to help users develop healthy habits, whether that’s taking walk breaks at work, drinking more water, or meditating every day. It’s good business: Some apps are free for just the basics, then charge users who want to access special features, while others require an upfront fee or an annual subscription. And in a quantified era where we increasingly rely on data to track our health, the appeal of these apps will likely continue to grow.
Skift Wellness Editor Leslie Barrie [firstname.lastname@example.org] curates the Skift Wellness newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.