It will likely take years for the wellness industry to really fix its diversity problem. But the process could speed up if more people start to speak out about it.
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.
The wellness industry has a diversity problem. Many companies in the space still only strive to appeal to one demographic: affluent and thin white women.
Sure, some brands have attempted to address the issue, say, by putting a woman of color in an ad campaign. But such attempts often seem more like ways to appear inclusive, rather than actually addressing the problem. As the black yoga practitioner Nicole Cardoza said, these easy fixes can come off as “performative wokeness.”
Major change within the industry doesn’t appear to be coming anytime soon. Take what happened to Cardoza when she posed for the cover of Yoga Journal, the largest yoga magazine in the United States. Soon after the shoot took place, the magazine surveyed its audience, asking if they’d prefer a cover with Cardoza’s image or a cover featuring a thin white woman.
Though Yoga Journal apologized and decided to go with Cardoza’s cover — and agreed to donate profits to Cardoza’s fund that supports diverse wellness practitioners — the fact that it happened in the first place shows just how far the industry has to go.
Financial diversity is another problem in the wellness space. Take the athleisure brand Madhappy, which sells $160 sweatshirts, all while claiming to focus on positivity and mental health. Though the concept seems well intentioned, the branding sends a clear message: Only those who can afford high-end activewear deserve to focus on their mental health.
We hope that change will come as more people call out the industry’s flaws. Just how fast that happens is another story.
— Leslie Barrie, Wellness Editor
mind & body
The Wellness Industry Continues to Grapple With Racism: In yet another example of diversity problems in the space, a black yoga instructor modeled for the cover of Yoga Journal only to have the magazine survey its readers, asking what cover they preferred: hers or a white woman in a similar pose. Though brands may try and appear inclusive, the misstep shows that the wellness industry still lacks opportunities and accessibility for those who don’t fit the “thin white woman” mold. Read more here.
Rethinking Luxury Hotel Design to Connect Guests With Nature: It seems like every hospitality brand these days is eager to jump on the wellness bandwagon. Most do so by adding a gym or throwing a yoga mat in the room. But some luxury hotels are taking a more esoteric approach, namely through biophilic design. Read more here.
Food & beverage
Major Food Brands Get In on a Growing Faux Meat Market: Supermarket shelves are filling up with alternative meat options as food conglomerates such as Tyson, Smithfield, Perdue, and Hormel join industry disrupters like Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods in offering plant-based burgers, meatballs, and chicken nuggets. It makes sense that major brands want in as demand for these products grow. But questions about their commitments to sustainability and other environmental issues are worth raising. Read more here.
Vitamins & Supplements
Vitamin Shoppe Invests in a Concept Refresh: If you were a bodybuilder wanting to bulk up, then Vitamin Shoppe would be your go-to destination. But the brand wants to reach a wellness audience — particularly clean beauty customers — so it’s redesigning its locations and bringing in beauty supplements and ingestible products, like Vital Proteins and CBD skincare line Miss Bud’s. It’s about time, as the company needed a makeover to get a bigger piece of the $702 billion supplement and food industry. Read more here.
Dosist Wants to Bring Cannabis Into the Wellness Fold: Even though THC and CBD both come from the cannabis plant, CBD — the non-hallucinogenic compound — is currently getting all the hype in the wellness space. But the chief marketing officer at Dosist, a brand that uses both THC and CBD in its vape pens and tablets, wants to change that with its products that come in what it deems the “proper dose” for things like sleep and pain relief. It’s smart positioning, but the country may not be ready yet. Read more here.
Skift Wellness Editor Leslie Barrie [[email protected]] curates the Skift Wellness newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.
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Photo credit: A yoga class takes place on a beach. The wellness industry continues to grapple with issues related to diversity and inclusion. @realkayls / Unsplash