Backing Bien-Être

Why there is a massive opportunity for next generation companies to build around the wellness-driven consumer.

Brett Bivens
Dec 30, 2018 · 4 min read
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The wellness-driven consumer.

We are living through a transformational cultural unbundling of consumer preferences in personal and professional contexts.

One-size fits all brands, media, and retailers leveraging economies of scale for mass market exploitation.

Global networks of niches and tastemaker-driven communities redefining the customer experience and creating entirely new systems of meaning for consumers.

This new era — centered around the wellness-driven consumer is fundamentally reshaping and expanding addressable markets, creating massive opportunities for emerging companies building communities and experiences that improve human health, happiness, and opportunity by reshaping the way we live, make, move, and improve.

The wellness-driven consumer is more informed, more principled, and in search of more lifestyle control than ever before and the impact this is having on the global economy is already well underway.

  • Wellness-related spend now accounts for over 5% of global economic activity and is growing at almost 2x the rate of the broader economy.
  • Americans spent $19bn on gym memberships last year — and a further $33bn on sports equipment. Overall, fitness (mind and body) is almost a $600b industry.
  • Wellness-driven travel and tourism has significantly outpaced the growth of the broader tourism market (growing to nearly $600b in total value), and with younger generations spending more on experiences than physical items, this growth will only continue.

The list of stats confirming the scope and scale of this shift could go on forever and touches people across age groups, geographies, and socioeconomic lines.

With global distribution platforms, converging consumer tastes, more efficient business models, and emerging technologies breaking down many of the geographic barriers to building passionate communities, companies are being built and scaled around the world to capture value from this dynamic market.

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While this represents just a small subset of the companies serving the wellness-driven consumer, it is clear that global-scale is increasingly possible and necessary.

But things are just getting started and there remains a massive impact gap despite increasing consumer spend and a mind-bending amount capital that has gone into companies in this space.

  • 64% of Americans want to lower healthcare costs but 80% don’t even meet minimum exercise requirements.
  • This inactivity cost the US economy $28b in medical expenses and lost productivity. Globally, the figure is a staggering $70b.
  • 61% of employees are burned out on the job thanks to a variety of factors.
  • 163m Europeans experienced activity-limiting musculoskeletal pain in the last week.

Again, the stats indicating how far we have to go could stretch for pages.

The speed with which consumer priorities have shifted in the last decade, the room for improvement we have as a global society, and the nascency of enabling elements like ecommerce and machine learning should be enough to get any entrepreneur or investor excited.

About the “Digitally Native Holding Companies” of the future, David Perrell wrote that the winners will be built around audiences, not industries.

The audience that is the wellness-driven consumer is growing in influence and impact across almost every axis imaginable and is changing the way every industry thinks about the way it serves customers and employees.

As the world of venture capital continues to evolve and enters what could be called its 3rd Wave, I believe many of the best emerging firms will be built by backing companies that excel at addressing those audiences and expanding their influence within them in a way that is aligned with the end consumer and that is sustainable.

Like Homebrew’s Hunter Walk says, “your thesis is your portfolio page” and I’ve been lucky over the last couple of years to work with a number of founders, practitioners, investors, corporate executives, and many others who have a passion for the wellness-driven consumer and look forward to doing the same for many years to come.

If you are working on something or investing in companies that improve human health, happiness, or opportunity, I would love to talk. You can reach me at or on Twitter at @brettbivens.

About Me

I am an early stage venture investor based in Paris focused on backing companies in Europe and North America that are improving human performance, fulfillment, and opportunity. For the last 3 years, I have been a part of the investment team at TechNexus, where we invest primarily in Seed and Series A companies and work to accelerate the development of the companies we back through unique collaborations we build with leading enterprise partners.

Prior to investing, I held startups roles across business development, product, and marketing in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Bangalore

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