Obesity in the U.S. has reached epidemic proportions, with 69% of adults ages 20 and up considered overweight and 35% considered obese. In addition to the many health problems that come with being overweight, there’s also the inevitable rising health costs to contend with. The average obese person spends $1,400 more per year on medical costs than a healthy person.

Consumers aren’t the only ones acknowledging the severity of this issue, however; brands are also taking note. With the increased emphasis on healthy eating and fitness, companies across industries are developing products targeting this problem. The rise of wearable tech, healthy foods and beverages, fitness fashion, and personalized workouts are everywhere. You’re hard-pressed to walk into a store and not be faced with a variety of products devoted to helping you live a healthier lifestyle on your own terms.

In the past, marketing efforts took a more extreme approach to getting healthy, focusing on very limited diets or high intensity workouts. Now, companies are approaching health as a lifestyle choice, making small changes here and there that you can actually stick to. Simply cutting back on sweets or trying to get in 10,000 steps a day doesn’t require an unreasonable commitment, but these changes can make an impact on your life.

There’s no question that some people were dedicated to their health long before the current fitness craze, but it certainly wasn’t as commonplace as it is today. Is it society’s recognition that has caused obesity to become such a critical issue? Or are we just fixated on our physical appearance?

Let’s take a look at some of the fastest-growing areas of the health and wellness industry and why they’ve been so successful in recent years.

Keeping Up with the Latest Tech

Like the thousands of people waiting outside Apple Stores to get their hands on the latest iPhone, our fascination with technology has spread to the fitness industry as well. Wearables like Fitbits and Apple Watches are no longer only for the early tech adopters and workout-obsessed. The health tech industry is expected to reach $19 billion by 2018, a clear indication that this ‘trend’ is not a trend at all.

Standing tall at the top of the list is Fitbit, a company that was projected to surpass the $1 billion sales mark in 2015. They were one of the first to hit the fitness tech market, combining technology and convenience into one sleek wristband. They’re also easily accessible to many consumers, starting at $100 for the most basic device. From tracking how many steps you take in a day to your sleep patterns, there’s very little that a Fitbit can’t do. And all of this information is easily delivered to you via their app or website.


Alongside wearable technology, health and wellness apps are also on the rise, with over 100,000 available for both iOS and Android. In 2014 this was the fastest-growing app category, and the market is expected to reach $26 billion by 2017. By far the most popular of these apps is MyFitnessPal, which was recently acquired by Under Armour, allowing you to enter in the foods and beverages you consume and any exercise you complete each day. It’s not only a great way to compare the calories consumed versus burned, but also how your intake of carbs, proteins, and sugars compare to where you should be for your lifestyle. Apps like MyFitnessPal keep you accountable throughout the day so you can cater your diet and exercise to your fitness goals.

One of the biggest reasons fitness technology has taken off is its ability to leverage our naturally competitive nature. Being able to share your wearable’s stats on social media, which 40% of users do, allows you to see how you stack up against your friends and family. If someone posts that they burned 500 calories in a spinning class, chances are you’ll want to exercise to keep up. It’s just that inherently competitive nature we all have.

In addition to the competitive side of things, using these types of devices opens up a community of support. Whether you’re sharing your fitness accomplishment of the day or reading MyFitnessPal’s blog about healthy eating tips, there are tons of people out there to give you encouragement or make you feel like you’re not alone in your journey. That comradery is more likely to keep you on track, too.

Where Fitness and Fashion Collide

When it comes to fitness, you want to look the part, right? Fashion brands have capitalized on the increased attention towards activewear, bringing clothing that was traditionally only worn at the gym to Main Street.

Psychology is partially responsible for the influx of yoga pants and Dry Fit clothing on our streets. There’s an association between wearing athletic clothing and actually being more active. Wearing these items in public used to make someone appear lazy or not put together, but today even celebrities are seen wearing this apparel in places other than the gym. If you see someone wearing a workout outfit when doing day-to-day activities, you tend to perceive them as active and healthy. So whether or not they’re actually going to that yoga class later, you are more likely to look at them as someone who’s dedicated to their health.

And consumers have proven that they’re willing to pay the price to fit this mold. Enter Lululemon, one of the world’s most popular fitness apparel companies today. Looking at their product lines, you’d wonder why someone would pay $100 for a pair of leggings. But when you see someone wearing that iconic “A” logo, I bet you perceive them as more devoted to working out simply because you know how much their outfit cost.

The same goes for companies like Under Armour, with both men and women flocking to their “Stay Cool,” “Stay Dry,” and “Stay Warm” products. These items are significantly more expensive than regular t-shirts or sweatshirts, but they come with the added benefits of both style and comfort. And again, that prominent logo on their products brings with it positive perceptions of your lifestyle.

Goodbye Diet, Hello Clean Eating

Recently there has been quite a departure from the traditional concept of dieting we all know and loathe. Sure, there are still plenty of juice cleanses to try out, but the general trend is towards eating well without going hungry. What has now been defined as Clean Eating, this concept focuses on eating products that have been minimally processed or refined for maximum nutrition. This includes fruits and vegetables, legumes, eggs, whole grains, and hormone-free dairy and meat. So rather than eliminating a whole food group from your diet, it’s all about eating naturally. Sounds much more sustainable than a low-carb diet to me.

With this move towards all-natural foods, restaurants and food providers have to step up to the challenge. Offering low-calorie menus, using more wholesome foods, and simply being transparent about where their products come from, the food industry has to keep up with the increased emphasis on nutrition. Calorie counts are popping up on more menus, especially fast food restaurants, so consumers can make an educated decision about what to order.

Panera Bread is by far one of the best examples of restaurants doing this right. Introducing salads with kale, using only hormone-free chicken, and committing to the elimination of all artificial additives by the end of 2016, they’ve recognized that consumers are concerned about what they’re putting into their bodies. It’s such an important part of their policy that they have an entire section on their website with information about how they’re removing additives and preservatives from all of their products.

Panera Bread Website

You also see more and more consumers taking their eating habits into their own hands, with healthy recipes flooding Pinterest and Blender Bottles permanently attached to their hands. People are willing to give healthy eating a try, but it has to be convenient. Protein shakes and bars and single-serve packages of healthy snacks are easy ways to stay on track while keeping up with your busy lifestyle. Companies like Clif Bar, KIND, and Chobani are positioning themselves as a quick and healthy solution to warding off hunger to attract on-the-go consumers to their products.

Get the VIP Treatment

Nowadays, one of the best ways for brands to stand apart from the competition is to provide customers with a personalized experience. It makes them feel valued, catered to, and that their money is well spent. To meet this need, boutique gyms have been popping up all across the country, focusing on one specific type of exercise. Gone are the days when running on a treadmill and lifting free weights were the only options available for exercising. Yoga, barre, spinning, CrossFit – you name it, there’s probably a gym that focuses solely on it.

These environments provide a more exclusive feel, knowing that you’re surrounded by others who are equally committed to that workout. Classes are tailored to every fitness level and age, so with a little digging, you’re bound to find the perfect place for you. With this exclusivity tends to come a higher price tag, but many consumers are willing to spend the money for a community of likeminded people and a laser-focused strategy.

To further personalize your workout regimen, many consumers are turning to personal training. Meeting one-on-one to work towards your specific goals makes you the focal point and ensures that you make the most of your limited time to work out. Nearly every fitness center today offers some type of personal or small group training to accommodate these preferences, and it provides a substantial profit on top of membership fees.

In any marketing strategy, you’re looking for ways to stand out from the crowd. Keeping up with the latest and greatest, offering luxury products for exclusivity, and personalizing the shopping experience are all essentials to successful branding and promotion.

This certainly holds true in the health and wellness industry, as consumers are placing a greater emphasis on fitness and nutrition and recognize the significance of the obesity epidemic. With this increased focus come many opportunities for companies to get involved and promote their products and services as part of a healthy lifestyle. We can be pretty certain this trend isn’t going away anytime soon, so now’s the time to look at your brand to see where you can ‘fit’ into the fitness movement.