COVID-19 Sparks Surge in Online Wellness

COVID-19 Surge in Online Wellness Spending

Clearly we aren’t all living the same COVID-19 pandemic. For businesses – location, industry and online versus traditional bricks and mortar has materially determined your fortune. One of the industries where COVID has sparked high growth is online Fitness, Health and Wellness purchases. McKinsey reported a 65% increase in customers purchasing in the Fitness and Wellness category online during COVID-19.

We spoke to Femeconomy members from the Health and Wellness industry about the direct impact of COVID-19 on their business, how they have adapted, and the motivational forces driving this surge in spending.

Mental Health came starkly into focus

Bianca Stawiarski, Managing Director Warida Wholistic Wellness said, “I’ve noticed a significant increase in people accessing wellbeing and mental health services, including my online wellbeing courses. Many people potentially now have the space to spend time in reflection and have found that they aren’t exactly happy with what they see in the mirror – whether that be physically or their inner world.

The isolation and anxiety surrounding COVID has revealed that they are potentially using distraction, including keeping very busy, to avoid looking inside themselves. I’ve also found that there is a considerable increase in people experiencing domestic violence as they or their partners are leaving the house less, or potentially impacted by job or financial stress. Just like our whole planet is experiencing a resurgence in health environmentally, people are also prioritising a healthier approach to life whether that be physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.”

Conscious purchasing increased with more time at home

Kim Vespa Owner, Boobie Brands & Punk Angel said, “Both my businesses, Boobie Foods, selling breastfeeding support products and Punk Angel, a boutique range of clean hair care specifically designed for kids, have had significant sales increases during the pandemic. 

Whilst people might be stuck at home, they are definitely making more considered choices about what they are buying. It could be a combination of having more time to research products and read reviews, or an element of trying to stay as well and as healthy in both mind and body as they can whilst being in lockdown.

This upward trend may also be the result of us working extra hard to connect and engage with our community – we have done this by running weekly live Facebook sessions and increasing the number of gift with purchase promotions and the number of EDM’s that we send out.”

Newer businesses boomed

Amina Rose Owner Carmel Zein sold out of product. Carmel shared, “As soon as the pandemic hit and we started going into lockdown, our yoga mats almost immediately sold out. This obviously put a big strain on our business as we tried to restock amidst the chaos, however as a start up business it also catapulted us into growth mode. 

Consumers began to panic, thinking of ways to stay fit and healthy. Sourcing products to support this new lifestyle was almost a coping mechanism for many people, not only to stay fit but to make sure their mind remained healthy too. Now health and fitness industries have a very important role to play in taking care of consumers during this time and beyond.”

Tasha Lawton, Managing Director of Talk Revolution, whose business runs health education programs in schools, has benefited, “Potentially it couldn’t have been a worse time to launch a new business and although I’ve come up against a few budget freezes within the education system over the last two months, on the whole, I’m pretty happy with the uptake. It shows the demand for mental health related resources within schools is real and increasing.”

Sales more than doubled as people appreciated the small joys in life

Founder of Clean Tea Jordana Edwards‘ operations were significantly impacted by home schooling, which predominantly affected women, at a time when her sales more than doubled. She said, “While our team was definitely affected by COVID with our staff needing to home school children, and juggle life during lockdown, we were lucky to have experienced a 110% increase in sales thanks to our fast and safe delivery practices.

We’re focused on spreading joy in every cup of tea or gift box we sell and we’re lucky enough to have been able to ride the COVID wave and enjoy positive outcomes for our Australian owned family business”.

Physical fitness was prioritised

Stacey Hughes, Director CQ Nutrition, Dietitians and Nutrition services based in Central Queensland, ran their biggest ever health and wellness challenge where they gave away $50,000 and had 451 participants during August. Stacey said, “Many clients commented that they entered to get rid of their COVID-kilos and on average, our top 10 males and females lost at least 10 kilos of body fat over 4 weeks”.

Yvonne Shepherd, CEO Women’s Fitness Adventures explained, “What we saw during COVID, and in particular the shutdown, was that there was a significant need for connection and conversation, particularly amongst women. Our Online Active Adventures gave the platform and space for women to connect from wherever they lived. The feedback was amazing – our community loved the ability to have the conversations whilst walking in their own environment, with members indicating the walking and the talking had such positive benefits for their mental and physical health.

As suburbs and cities begin to open up, we found the Online Active Adventures to be habit forming and our community has told us they are more active than they were pre-COVID. Members also took up our on demand exercise videos. This was a new concept for some who had shied away from a gym, and saw COVID as the perfect time to start some ‘gym style’ exercises without the hassle (and of course the inability) to go to the gym.”

Health and Wellness focus will endure post COVID

Venu Cameron, Founder of Venuzi Pit Paste is optimistic about a continued upturn, “COVID-19 has certainly created more opportunities for the Health and Wellness sector. Our customers have proven over and over, they value our All Natural, Organic and Vegan Friendly range of Pit Paste deodorants. Now, more than ever, understanding our own overall health and wellbeing, is the most important tool in life. It helps us stay happy and healthy by being mindful with day to day routines, also having a little help from the benefits of natural wellness solutions”.

Wholesome Hub Founder Sandy Abram, with two decades of perspective in the organic food industry said, “For many people, the global pandemic has brought with it some unexpected changes, including the time to reflect about the kind of life they would like to live post COVID and whether they just want to return to ‘life as normal’ once restrictions completely ease.

In our experience we’ve noticed that during this time, people have come to value food and other essentials more. They are wanting to support more local brands and have found enjoyment in the joy of cooking meals from scratch, baking and even making your own butter. As such, we have seen an increase in customers to Wholesome Hub as people seek out healthier and more sustainable foods and products.

We believe people in our community are using their experiences during COVID to make some positive changes in their own life and to learn from the crisis. This definitely translates to the foods we eat, what we put on our skin or use in our home, or the impact our choices have on our planet around us.”


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Posted by Jade Collins - Femeconomy Director

Jade Collins has 20 years’ global experience in corporate executive Human Resources and management consulting roles in the Mining, Energy and Aerospace industries, leading large scale, complex multi-million-dollar change management programs. Jade finds the combination of her HR, Psychology and MBA qualifications and her leadership experience is invaluable for increasing gender equality in leadership across industries. Jade was a member of the Queensland Government's Strategic Advisory Group for the Toward Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative and the 2019 CQU Alumni of the Year for Social Impact for her work with Femeconomy.