MIAMI (STL.News) – The Global Wellness Summit (GWS), the premier gathering of international leaders in the $4.2 trillion wellness economy, is soon headed to Asia, with its 13th annual conference being held at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong from October 15–17. In anticipation of the Summit, the GWS recently hosted a VIP Roundtable in Tokyo, where several of Japan’s most powerful opportunities in wellness—both at home and abroad—were discussed.
Roundtable participants included top executives and board members from leading Japanese companies, including Benefit One, FUJIFILM, Healthcare Laboratory, Kao Corporation, Mori Trust K.K., Shimizu Corporation, SONY and Yakult HQ, along with GWS Executive Director and Chief Creative Officer Nancy Davis and conference co-chair and president and CEO of Japan-based Conceptasia, Yoriko Soma.
Five Wellness Economy Trends for Japan
1) Strong Assets for an Inbound Wellness Tourism Boom
Asia has been the eye-opening growth leader in the $639 billion global wellness tourism market: Wellness trips in Asia grew a staggering 33 percent from 2015–2017 (reaching 258 million annually). While Japan’s market ranks fifth in the world, it has seen more modest recent growth in wellness tourism than other Asian nations. However, given that Japan has unique assets that wellness travelers hunger for—from an extraordinary hot springs culture to forest bathing—there are vast opportunities for the country to powerfully promote Japanese wellness and grow its inbound wellness travel market. Because wellness tourists are big spenders, an inbound wellness tourism surge would be a powerful weapon in tackling the two critical tourism issues Japan faces: moving tourists out of the over-touristed Kyoto-Osaka-Tokyo routes and addressing the imbalance of exploding foreign arrivals without an increase in tourism dollars.
The future: more luxury-level Japanese onsen resorts, such as InterContinental in Beppu and Park Hyatt and Ritz-Carlton in Niseko, and strategic wellness tourism zones, such as Dragon Route in central Japan.
2) J-Beauty: In the Limelight
Wellness is rewriting the $1.1 trillion beauty market, as natural, functional, nontoxic and sustainable ingredients surge, and consumers seek prevention over repair and hyper-personalized regimens. “K-Beauty” dominated recent global headlines, but now “J-Beauty” is surging, as Japan’s high-tech, high-nature approaches dovetail with current beauty trends. The Japanese beauty approach focuses on minimalism, prevention and protection; multistep rituals emphasizing purity and cleansing routines; ancient yet powerful ingredients; and much science and technology. The goal: skin so healthy, bright and luminous (“bihaku”) that little makeup is needed.
On trend: Shiseido’s 76,000-square-foot S/PARK near Tokyo features futuristic products, such as a patented “second skin.”
3) Japan: Pioneer of Smart, Healthy Homes & Cities of the Future
Where we live determines 80–90 percent of our health outcomes, so new wellness real estate and communities are the next frontiers. Asia, with rising incomes and cities choked by urban sprawl and pollution, will be the world’s largest wellness real estate market by 2022, with a projected value of $78 billion. One key subsegment of the wellness real estate market is the new, super-smart, connected cities of the future that will bring on-demand wellness into the world’s urban homes and neighborhoods. Building the “smart-well” cities of the future is a natural opportunity for Japan, with companies such as Panasonic, Sony, NEC, Hitachi, Fujitsu, Philips, etc.
4) Beyond Millennials: Japan’s Age-Tech Opportunity
The world is aging at a historic pace: People aged 50+ will nearly double by 2050 to 3.2 billion. And Japan, with its plummeting birthrate and super-longevity, is the first super-aging nation: Twenty-seven percent of people are over 65, and by 2050, Japan will have 70 retirees for every 100 workers.
This brings many challenges but also new opportunities: Products and services for older people are a vast $15 trillion global market, and Japan has a unique opportunity to innovate for the coming longevity economy. With a history of ingenious, people-focused tech and design, Japan could pioneer products/solutions that help people age better, from tech that helps people stay mobile to the reinvention of senior housing.
On trend: Robotic pets, such as Sony’s Aibo, provide smart companionship.
5) Workplace Wellness in Japan: Focus on Mental Wellness
Asia is infamous for its culture of overwork, where grueling hours are glorified. Japan, which even has a term for “death by overwork” (“karoshi”), has been taking real steps to improve its work culture. It is now the second-largest national workplace wellness market (behind the US), spending $3.9 billion annually, with roughly one in three workers having access to some type of workplace wellness initiatives.
But the big focus has been on physical health/fitness, when data shows that Japanese workplaces need to zero in on mental wellness, given fast-rising rates of anxiety and depression. Look for mental health services to be “un-tabooed” in the workplace. And expect to see alternative mental wellness approaches, such as meditation, yoga, healthy sleep programs and biophilic office design.
Leading the trend: Tokyo’s new Kojimachi Terrace offices, which are like working in a forest.
With a 2019 theme of “Shaping the Business of Wellness,” the Summit will explore the most important business and investment trends across all global wellness markets. The GWS is always a sold-out event— apply to attend here.
About the Global Wellness Summit: The Global Wellness Summit is an invitation-only international gathering that brings together industry leaders and visionaries to shape the business of wellness and the future of the $4.2 trillion global wellness economy. The gathering is held annually in different locations across the globe and has taken place in the US, Switzerland, Turkey, Bali, India, Morocco, Mexico, Austria and Italy. The 13th annual Summit will be held at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong from October 15–17, 2019.