As the new year gets underway, it always brings a certain level of retrospection about how far each of us has come in fulfilling our goals, both personally and professionally. The next step for most of us will be deciding what we can do better for ourselves. If you are like most Americans, losing weight, living a healthier lifestyle and enjoying life to the fullest rank in the top five of your list of resolutions for 2017.

The good news for retailers is that there are more and more opportunities to meet the demand for fitness and mindfulness regimens with bricks-and-mortar solutions. The global wellness industry is a $3.7 trillion market that has expanded beyond physical training and nutrition to include mindfulness, meditation and positive thinking.

Meditation goes mainstream

During my last visit to New York City, I was introduced to the latest trend to hit the health and wellness space:  Inscape, a meditation-only studio with a complementary online app that provides guests with an immersive experience. Inscape, the first “multi-platform meditation brand,” is the brainchild of Khajak Keledjian, the founder and former CEO of Intermix, and Lew Frankfort, the executive chairman and former CEO of Coach.Inscape exterior

Image source: Inscape via the COUP 

Inscape’s 5,000-square-foot studio is located in a landmark building in Manhattan’s Flatiron district and includes a retail center, a waiting lounge with cozy bean chairs and a three-dimensional paper butterfly art installation. The main attraction, the cocoon-like Dome meditation room, includes a variety of seating options and blankets for optimal comfort. Guests participate in timed, audio-guided meditation sessions with aural and visual elements to encourage meditative reflection and relaxation.

Inscape interior

Image source: Inscape via the COUP

As Keledjian noted in a recent article, creating immersive experiences is his trademark: “I reimagined the concept of the specialty boutique when we founded Intermix, which disrupted the luxury shopping experience by styling different designers together in one space.”

And now he’s doing the same for health and wellness. Most of the well-known meditation centers are spiritual retreats offering healing art and yoga programs. With Inspace, Keledjian aims to universalize the concept into a secular activity that can be enjoyed at the consumer’s leisure.

This idea of a customized meditation experience is new, but it is catching on fast. In addition to Inscape, other pioneers in this emerging trend include Unplug in Los Angeles, MNDFL in NYC and Current Meditation, which recently opened in Phoenix.

What’s next: holistic fitness

The health and wellness sector is in the midst of its own creative disruption as the desire to scale audiences increases and businesses focus on creating experiences that appeal to younger generations.

Millennials, because of their interest in activities that motivate them mentally, physically, and socially, are sometimes referred to as “stimulation junkies.” Today’s brands strive to create products that speak to these audiences holistically.


Image source: New York Times via The Atlanta 100

Boutique studios like Flywheel, Orangetheory Fitness and Barry’s Bootcamp are joining the revolution to create an environment that taps into the millennial preference for specialized classes and personal attention. As they gain in popularity, these niche fitness centers have also begun to take a larger slice of the fitness and fashion spend thanks to their merchandising apparel and accessories offerings.

Enhancing the in-store experience

The shift toward wellness holds important implications for many retailers, even those who aren’t in the fitness arena. McKinsey & Company’s The State of Fashion 2017 (paywall) reports that “wellness” extends beyond traditional definitions to include mental, physical, spiritual, emotional and environmental attributes. They go on to suggest that brands that are able to connect with consumers across these levels will ultimately form deeper, long-lasting relationships and a sense of community.

Brands across the board are taking these cues to maximize the in-store experience and appeal to consumers’ senses in a more holistic way. Tag Heuer recently updated their network of stores to include a new audio appearance through tailored playlists through the Spotify “Soundtrack Your Brand” streaming service. L’Occitane opened a multi-sensory boutique in Manhattan that recreates a modern Provençal open-air market with a community board of in-store services. And Samsung, in partnership with Wonder-Wall, refashioned their corporate headquarters in New York City with a multi-functional theater, recording booth and exhibition/product display space where they host everything from virtual reality workshops to Wanderlust meditation and yoga sessions.

As the commercial real estate industry continues to focus on developing mixed-use spaces, landlords should keep an open mind and get into the habit of looking beyond traditional retailers—especially in urban environments.

Because it’s clear a shift is happening. Macy’s flagship store in Pittsburgh has plans to convert into a mixed-use space. Limelight is a new gothic-church-turned-nightclub in New York City that also houses a restaurant, David Barton Gym and retail pop-up shops. And the Brooklyn Lyceum, once a performance space, was recently cleared to become a fitness center.

David barton Limelight

Image source: DavidBartonGym

With the fitness industry explosion and the arrival of Inscape and other boutique centers, landlords may want to pause and meditate on the tenants of their future.

Anjee continues to be an insatiable collector of all things retail. She’s a student of culture living next door to future shoppers, whose fleeting trends constantly change the retail landscape … driving retailers, landlords and developers crazy!