Challenging one’s limits, working up a sweat, changing one’s routine – these are all
trends now taking Taiwan by storm. Running stands out as the most obvious example. Ten
years ago, there were fewer than 100 road races but there were 512 last year, according to the
new sports media outlet “Running Biji.” Though the 2016 number was slightly down from the
previous year, an average of roughly 10 races were still held per week.
Vivid Lo, insight research director at Dentsu Aegis Network, says consumers’ growing
emphasis on their own mental and emotional well-being has opened the door to many
commercial opportunities. As with running, painting, flower arranging, or DIY experiences all
offer people the chance to embrace life and reduce their stress levels, she observes.
The global Vegan movement craze has also caught fire in Taiwan, with people not only
eating vegetarian but opting for clothes, cosmetics, or other items that do not harm animals.
Twenty-eight-year-old blogger Bluesomeone is one of the Vegan faithful. “If everybody
has a little more empathy for others and makes a small contribution to the world, happiness
will be sustained for a long time,” she insists. She has extended her support to products and
services that embrace fair trade and eco-friendly practices, believing that achieving a balance
between people and the environment is a form of “well-being.”
This pursuit of a healthy body, mind, and spirit has emerged as a “new treasure” in which
many consumers are now willing to invest considerable time and money and a “new gold
mine” for companies.
The catchphrase embodying then new phenomenon, “Wellness is the new luxury,” has
been highlighted in Forbes, Vogue, and the New Yorker, reflecting how the world has
redefined what it means to be precious.
“In principle, health is something basic,” says Wei-gong Liou, a sociology professor at
Soochow University and an expert on the sociology of consumption. But at a time when the
world seems on the verge of collapse, afflicted with food safety scandals, the threat of lifestyle
diseases, and climate and ecological change, “human health has turned into something
precious and elusive.”
“Wellness as the new luxury” has also created a lucrative commercial niche. In its report
on the Top 10 Global Consumer Trends for 2017, market research firm Euromonitor
International said that as “material things” have paled as indicators of achievement, wellness
has become the new status symbol in the eyes of many consumers.
“Healthy living is becoming a status symbol, as more consumers opt to flaunt their
passion for wellness through paying for boutique fitness sessions, “athleisure” clothing, food
with health-giving properties, and upscale health and wellness holidays,” the report said.
International accounting firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers said the global wellness and
fitness market was worth nearly US$1.49 trillion (about NT$45 trillion) in 2015, while
Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs has estimated that the revenues of the domestic health
and wellness services sector will double to NT$281.9 billion by 2025.