Trend: The Wellth Divide Is Widening: Super-Expensive Wellness Is on the Rise  

The pandemic brought new demands for a less elitist wellness market, but it also fueled growing wealth disparity–so we’re seeing more expensive, exclusive wellness than ever before: $4,000/night room rates at new wellness hotels, $75 million wellness condos, $200,000 cosmetic procedures, and a surge in private, expensive wellness social clubs (or the Soho-House-ification of wellness) 

In our mid-year 2022 trends report we argued that a new post-pandemic wellness consumer was rising, and that one of their key traits was a fatigue with wellness as elitist hyper-consumerism: People want more accessible and affordable wellness. The desires–and idealism and hope–for a less elitist wellness market coming out of the pandemic are very real. But no one is really talking about how, because of the real economic fallout from the pandemic–where the rich are richer and the rest of us are facing an inflation crunch–we’re actually seeing an even more polarized wellness market. We think it’s important to talk about.  

What inflation? The wealthy are spending on luxury and wellness like crazy: 
The new “wealthier wellness” is a symptom of the fact that businesses that serve high-income consumers continue to be immune to the difficult economy. If most people are struggling with soaring food, gas and travel prices, the economic reports are rolling in showing that the current luxury market is booming–a market where sneakers fetch $1,200 and sports cars easily command $300,000. Companies catering to the ultra-rich, such as the parent companies of Dior and Louis Vuitton, just reported super-strong sales, while the Walmarts and Gaps slashed financial forecasts. Lamborghini is sold out until 2024. Wealthy Chinese consumers are splurging on luxury goods. Virtuoso recently reported that luxury travel is clocking big numbers, that high-end travelers plan to spend 34% more in 2023, and that wellness-focused trips saw the biggest gains this year. A BUPA Global survey of people in the UK worth more than $1.2 million revealed that they spent an average of $138,000 on health and wellness over the past 18 months. 

The state of WELLTH:
If wellness is a more important value across classes now, the wealthy have the spending power, and they’re now spending like crazy on travel, beauty and wellness. So, the wellness market is doubling down on high-end consumers, and the luxury wellness market is rolling out new (yes, amazing) destinations and experiences at eye-watering prices, and with models of greater exclusivity, than ever before. We’re talking $200,000 initial club membership fees at the new urban wellness resort, Aman New York–$69,000 psychedelic retreats from Journeymen Collective–and hotel spas moving beyond massages and facials to offer expensive medical-wellness and high-tech treatments, from cryotherapy to genetic testing–such as $12,000-a-pop, one-hour stem cell treatments at the Four Seasons Resort Maui. A key aspect of this trend is the rise of exclusive social wellness clubs where memberships can cost thousands a month, often with mysterious member-vetting processes based on “referrals.”  

READ MORE for examples of the new hyper-expensive wellness–with a few thoughts on how it might hurt the image of wellness at such a pivotal, hopeful moment.  

The Trend in the News

Ultra-rich fueling sales of luxury brands despite inflation and recession fearsCNBC

A couple of weeks ago, companies that cater to the ultra-rich, such as LVMH (Dior, Louis Vuitton, etc.), Ferrari, Capri, etc. are all reporting super-strong first-half 2022 sales and hiking profit forecasts, while companies like the Gap and Walmart are suffering. Delta airlines reports that business class is doing better than economy. Analysts note that “symbols of power still matter within tribes of the rich” and these consumers are less guilty about spending in this downturn than they were in the 2008 recession.  

Intimate luxury (High-end brands are taking exclusivity to the next level for their top customers, offering them private spa cruises and wellness retreat tours)– JWT Intelligence 

With the wealthy now spending more on wellness, beauty and uber-luxury experiences, brands like Dior and Nobu Hotels are giving their top customers super-exclusive wellness experiences, such as Dior launching private spa cruises in Paris for their best customers or Nobu Hotels offering theirs a private jet experience to ‘Ryokan Retreats’ in Malibu and Palo Alto. JWT Intelligence call this the rise of “intimate luxury”: VIP experiences exclusively reserved for a luxury brand’s highest-spending customers.      

NYC’s most expensive hotel is now Aman New York. The most reliable way into the urban wellness resort is a club membership that costs $200,000. Here’s an exclusive peek inside—it may be the only chance you get– Bloomberg

A detailed look inside the new Aman NYC, with its three-story spa and wellness center, subterranean jazz club, and functional medical practice that uses an array of machines to measure inflammation and stress levels before prescribing such things as intravenous peptide boosts and hyperbaric oxygen therapy. The club membership of $200,000 is not designed to bring in locals, “but to keep enough people out that the vibe remains exclusive and private.”  

From IV Drips to MRIs (It’s not just the spa anymore. Luxury hotels have upgraded their wellness offerings to include in-room sleep training, stem-cell therapies, on-site psychologists)– The Wall Street Journal

Explores how luxury hotels and wellness resorts are coming up with an endless supply of next-level treatments, and many that are medical or high-tech, which command much higher prices than massages and facials–whether IV drips, ozone therapy or “mitochondrial training”–even stem-cell therapy treatments that cost $12,000.   

Copyright © 2022 Global Wellness Summit, All rights reserved.