J. Walter Thompson futurist Lucie Greene shares how retailers and brands are driving the ‘Well Economy’

Lucie Greene is the “outward-facing” futurist and worldwide director of The Innovation Group at J. Walter Thompson’s in-house futures and innovation think tank.

Last year, the group launched “The Well Economy,” a report exploring the future of well-being. One key takeaway from the findings? The expanding notions of health and wellness.

“The more we learn about health, the more it seems that health includes everything,” says Greene.

Here, Greene chats with EB on how that expanding definition has consumers considering health “as a factor in everyday decisions and purchases.” She also shares the innovative ways retailers and brands are heeding this call.


TIP #1

Recognize the Golden Triangle

Consumer lifestyle spending is increasingly focused in three areas:


Experiences (e.g., food, drink, special events)

Self-improvement (from business networking to spiritual fulfillment)

This trend has led to a proliferation of services, events, and products that combine all three. For instance, the London-founded Hoxton Hotel (coming soon to the U.S.) has launched Hoxton Camps with sunset yoga, curated gourmet food, and well-being sessions.

Equinox, the luxury gym chain, is launching Equinox hotels for traveling health-conscious millennials. Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s online magazine-cum-retail-destination, is hosting wellness events with celebrity guests exploring the future of wellness, curated wellness products, and therapists.

Meanwhile there are new products championing sleep optimization not only for improved mental health, but productivity at work.

Wellness is becoming intimately intertwined [with] consumers’ daily lives.


Retailers are already adapting to this. Harrods has launched a well-being clinic that offers customers spa treatments alongside chiropractors, DNA testing for tailored skin care, and cryotherapy. The key is that retailers are leading with services, becoming [lifestyle] hubs for hangouts. The product is there, but is secondary. And the services are a new draw to enter the retail spaces.


TIP #2

Expand the Definition

The definition of wellness is expanding rapidly—and, there’s been a massive rise in the number of products utilizing a well-being angle as a differentiator.

One New York real estate developer has drafted health guru Deepak Chopra to design Muse Residences in Sunny Isles, FL, with the concept of biological well-being. The condos’ health-promoting features include circadian lighting systems, air and water purification, and mood-aligning paint colors that emulate nature.

In addition, the attitude toward health is becoming much more holistic. Nutrition programs are positioned as a form of preventative health care from chronic diseases. New cookbooks are being released that offer recipes to boost beauty and skin health.


For retailers, it means taking a more 360-degree approach in product offers, but also represents an opportunity.


TIP #3

Leverage Tech for Well-Being

Increasingly, people are using tech tools to take care of their health. From apps that monitor your heart rate and sleep patterns to lamps that monitor the light in your bedroom, we’ve seen a plethora of new technology products aimed at improving well-being.

Companies such as Viome are inviting customers to sample microbiome and are providing hyperpersonalized dietary programs using machine-learning analysis. L’Oreal has a lab in San Francisco creating products such as UV sensors that can measure sun exposure and advise you to apply sunscreen.


The perception of well-being as being at odds with tech is over, and retailers can embrace this. People are increasingly using tech [such as eyewear wearables] to monitor themselves, adjust their environment, and create hypertailored health regimes.


TIP #4

Speak the New Design Language

Today’s health environments are taking modern wellness cues from spas and boutique hotels, with biophilic interiors and carefully designed lighting—no more strip lights synonymous with the doctor’s office.

Inscape, a meditation studio in New York, resembles a hip nightclub with immersive theatrically lit spaces to tune out from the urban landscape.

In Dublin, architecture firm Urban Agency has created a dental practice that resembles an airy concept store. Patients enter a bright space with curving walls of pale wood paneling, and the dental treatment rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking a richly green garden. The design aim: to allay potential anxiety and offer a sense of calm.


As health increasingly becomes everything, and integral to consumer lifestyles, forward-thinking retailers are challenging the idea that health needs to look medical.


Worldwide director of The Innovation Group at J. Walter Thompson, Lucie Green studies the consumer and pinpoints consumer shifts taking place. She has worked with leading brands, such as Google, LVMH, H&M, Nike, Rolls-Royce, Virgin, and Estée Lauder.