The Covid-19 pandemic has plunged the world into a new normal. People are forced to spend most of their time indoors and have very limited interactions even upon venturing outside. Experts from across the world have indicated that this epidemic will take a while to be fully under control. However, in the last year and a half, people’s behaviours and preferences have altered significantly. They are getting increasingly used to living inside their homes and working in their personal spaces while having access to every possible service at their fingerprints.
With such a major shift in behaviour patterns, it is important to relook at our definitions of health. Prior to the pandemic era, most people viewed health as the absence of illness or disability. But today, thanks to the advances in technology and the increasing penetration of smartphones in India, the concept of overall wellness is taking ground. People are trying to live a healthy lifestyle in order to achieve a state of physical, mental, and social wellbeing. In addition, the second wave of the pandemic has alarmed many, drawing them to the idea of building stronger immunity and overall health.
Owing to this shift, the demand for wellness services across the country has increased by multiple folds. The wellness industry is projected to grow from Rs. 907 billion in 2018 to Rs. 2563 billion in 2021/ 2022. This threefold growth can be attributed to the positive market cues and the innovative use of technology by start-ups in the wellness sector. The increased awareness and innovations have given rise to a massive market full of opportunities for new-age entrepreneurs. The market projections suggest an expected compound annual growth rate of 18.40% for the wellness industry in India for the period of 2019-2024.
Technology at the core
Technology has been a huge boon in dealing with the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. It is because of the availability of technology and internet that people have been able to access crucial health, wellness and other services in times of emergencies and otherwise. Corporates are turning to tech-enabled solutions to identify the health and wellness levels of employees and deliver wellness programs to help motivate, engage and incent them towards healthy behaviours. Virtual consultations, online meditation and yoga sessions, fitness classes, and diet planning have become a norm in today’s world. While bigger brands are already investing in technology in full swing, it is becoming crucial for smaller businesses, local service providers, and individuals to leverage technology and create a space for themselves in this rapidly shifting market.
For example, a local gymnasium that generated good business in the pre-pandemic period will struggle heavily for a long time unless it introduces digital services like online fitness sessions, personal training, etc. to stay in business. By doing this, they can not only reach their existing customer base, but also explore opportunities in a much wider market. Sanjeev Singhai, founder of Wellnessta says, “The industry in India is dominated by large players at the time but 70% of the businesses are either micro, small, medium-enterprise or emerging start-ups. My 79-year-old mother who, a Yoga Guru used to conduct her Yoga classes in a hall since 1998, now conducts her classes online, 6 days a week. This reflects the huge unexplored potential in the wellness industry.”
Notably, India’s share in the global wellness market is still miniscule. The global sector is estimated to be around 4.2 million dollars. With a sizable population of 1.3 billion, India can be expected to become a major contributor to this market in the future. The internet penetration in India was estimated to be at 34.4 percent in the year 2019. This shows the vast majority is yet to be connected to the mobile internet. Those numbers alone make the wellness-tech industry a lucrative market for upcoming investors.