True success means keeping it simple – and real – Edition 28


Defining ‘what works’ in wellness service provision and ensuring that a brand narrative appeals to those in pursuit of wellbeing, is not an exact science. But one vital component of success is to keep the offer simple, real and relatable.

UK bakery chain Greggs has recently exceeded £1billion in sales and attributes much of that growth to their topical launch in January 2019 of a vegan sausage roll, in a tribute to Veganuary. That’s despite getting mixed press, as it was widely recognised that with more calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger, health benefits were not its greatest asset.

Greggs’ vegan sausage roll was undoubtedly a bit of a PR win. Contrast that with Weight Watchers’ drop in share value following what was arguably a much more authentic shift with their WW rebrand.

And then add Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop into this mix. Goop was last valued at $250million and is making continued market share gains through its deals with Netflix and Delta Airlines – in spite of some harsh and justified criticism.

“Beauty, or in this case belief, resonance and appeal, is in the eye of the beholder”

Beauty, then, or in this case belief, resonance and appeal, is in the eye of the beholder whether it is a vegan sausage roll, a weight loss membership or some very expensive products that purport to make one look and feel better (whether they do or not!).

There are many wellbeing-related brands that are resonating with consumers but here are a couple of threads that seem to have ubiquitous growth and momentum:

• Athleisure retailers – Bandier has raised another $34.4million to fuel growth in an already crowded market place, alongside trailblazers Lululemon and Under Armour.

• Healthy food-to-go – UK startup brand Pollen + Grace is now in its 5th year and raising £350k for next development stage; meanwhile US-based Sweetgreens, which brings salad bowls from farm to table, is worth more than $1billion, after 13 years of trading.

Healthy food is one trend the hospitality sector simply can’t ignore – not only at the high end, but for mid-scale and budget offerings, too. Access to high potency nutrition needs equal consideration across all hospitality segments.

Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence


The budget hotel proposition can be an object of derision, an institution people like to laugh about because the perception is of low grade, cheap accommodation. However, a new generation of budget offers is poised to demonstrate that low-price can still be consistent with quality and service.

Oyo was founded by Indian entrepreneur Ritesh Agarwal five years ago, since then it has become the largest hotel chain in India, building a network of 9,000 hotels with 170,000 rooms; and it has expanded to eight countries internationally including China, the UK and Malaysia, with a total of 460,000 rooms. Oyo has been valued at over $5 billion.

Agarwal’s vision is ambitious: he has set his company the target to be the “largest and most preferred” hotel chain in the world by 2023. And with bookings growing from 6m in 2016 to 75m by the end of 2018, it is rapidly catching up on market leader Marriott.

The key insight Agarwal had is that if budget hotels could offer the same kind of service and quality as the big brands, they could dramatically increase their occupancy. He uses technology algorithms he has developed to identify hotels that would benefit from the Oyo offer, and technology to improve their services. One example is automatically switching on air conditioning in a room as soon as the guest checks in.

“New and fast-growing chains seek to demonstrate that budget can still be consistent with quality and service.”

In the UK, Nick Jones, founder of the Soho House private club network, is also taking on the budget hotel market. His Mollie’s Motel & Diner, the first of which launched in Oxfordshire in January, aims to replicate the cool design and appealing features of Soho House establishments – such as king-size beds, Egyptian cotton sheets and high-pressure rainforest showers – at a no-frills price point of £50 a night.

Jones calls his offer ‘budget luxury’ and he’s focusing on what customers need – like wifi and charging points – while cutting out what they don’t need, such as a phone by the bed and TV channels (they can watch their own Netflix account). You can even unlock your room with an app.

Hotel owners cannot be complacent: the sector is ripe for innovation and every part of the offer needs to count. Guests won’t pay for what they don’t need.

Steve Dunne, Chairman, Well Intelligence


There is a strong case for health services to be re-imagined and re-invented to enable the physical and mental wellbeing that all populations crave. This isn’t and probably cannot be delivered by governments alone. Innovation, social impact, cost efficiencies and real proven results are the factors that mean programmes become emulated.

A community health programme in one district of Bamako, Mali’s capital city, has achieved remarkable success in the seven years since it started. Deaths of children under five have plummeted during that time from 148 per thousand, among the worst in the world, to seven — putting this small part of Africa on a par with the United States.

In short, their formula is one of prevention and pro-activity. The programme involves a community worker doing the rounds every day – going out to the homes in her neighbourhood and looking for health issues, such as childhood diseases. By taking pre-emptive action, sickness is nipped in the bud. It may sound simple but it has proved so effective that the programme will be taken nationwide with a network of workers.

“There’s a strong case for health services to be re-imagined and re-invented to enable the physical and mental wellbeing that all populations crave.”

The results in Mali have been achieved through traditional methods. Contemporary, tech methods are working too – as a scalable and perhaps more sustainable solution. In Rwanda, Babyl (a part of the Babylon Health family) was launched in September 2016 to provide a service allowing people to book appointments with a doctor, pick up prescriptions and access their medical records via an app. Now more than 2 million people (30% of the adult population) are signed up to the service and they continue to receive an average of 170,000 registrations per day.

Whilst the UK and Europe consider the everyday health of the population to be a general health service responsibility the ease of access through (private) models joined with the health service is likely to be rapid.

Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence

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