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Market Trends: The next Trillion-dollar industry

Players in the sector are silently cashing in on obesity – making fat profits in an industry that is projected to reach USD7.7 Trillion globally by 2025.


Kenyan companies and allied players in the wellness market are silently cashing in on obesity – making fat profits in an industry that is projected to reach USD7.7 Trillion globally by 2025.

The global wellness economy stood at USD4.4 trillion in 2020 amid the chaos and disruptions caused by COVID-19, according to the 2021 global wellness economy study by Global Wellness Institute (GWI).

And while the health and wellness market has been around for years, specialists are now recognizing it as the next big thing in the post Covid-19 era.

However, findings reveal that the majority of Kenyan firms in that space which entails healthy eating, personal care and beauty, weight-loss and spa retreats among others, are only scratching the surface.

Before the pandemic, wellness was soaring, but the segment is believed to have notably grown over the last two years and predictions point to an even bigger market in the years ahead.

“More Kenyans are now health conscious and the need to boost their immunity to contain exposure from Covid-19 and related illnesses have grown exponentially.

What this has done in return, is to extend revenue streams to those running facilities like gyms and beauty spas for instance,” notes Henry Ng’ethe – Chairman of the Nutrition Association of Kenya (NAK) – a lobby body for nutritionists and dieticians in the country.

His remarks come on the background of the 2018 study by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which found prevalence of obesity among Kenyans to be 60.3 percent among urban residents and 19.5 percent among rural residents.

Higher risk, according to the study, was tilted in favor of women living in town settlements and that such overweight women are increasingly consuming high-calorie and high-fat foodies without giving a hoot.

Mr. Ng’ethe believes that the quoted statistics may have more than doubled since the pandemic hit in 2020 and now worryingly, he says men are also paying the price of ‘working from home’ guides announced by the government at the time to contain the virus’ spread.

“More male gender are now obese particularly around their waists and this poses higher risks for future non-communicable diseases for obese individuals,” he noted.

You would think there might be a problem here, but obesogenic is rapidly and carefully minting multibillion pound weight-loss market encompassing gyms, home fitness, fad diets and crash diets and type of magazines and newspaper segments that now feature tutorials on how to stay fit, lean and healthy.

In fact, analysts believe the sector could offer striking returns to the growing number of firms and practitioners drooling for overweight Kenyans seeking health and wellness merchandise and amenities that promise to keep them lean and fit.

“This is a sector that will grow like a bushfire and is well managed like the M-pesa invention and the general fintech space for example because the growing tech-savvy population will offer ground breaking solutions in the healthcare system,” offered John Kirimi, an independent financial analyst.

Kirimi however, cautions that for the sector to witness the expected boom – which he forecasts will fully take shape in two years, the government should not rush to regulate the sector – but rather, allow it to grow before relevant policies and regulations are put in place to safeguard the sector’s investments and its potential.

“Today we are seeing patients getting a diagnosis overseas without having to physically visit medical facilities. This is the future and it will not take long before such innovations hit the Kenyan market, but that will need a lot of support from the government,” he said.

Companies like QNET –a Hong Kong-based e-commerce based direct selling company offering a wide range of health, wellness and lifestyle products, is one of the brands that has seen a boost in revenue sales across its East African market including Kenya, owing to increased awareness in wellbeing among consumers.

The firm whose products include vitamin and mineral supplements that are widely consumed locally, estimates that the wellness market will grow by 30 percent year-on-year in East Africa as wellness is now being prioritized by most conscious-driven Kenyans.


The numbers:

-A market research and analytics firm by Euro monitor International shows that the Kenya’s Health and Wellness Tourism recorded value growth of 9 per cent in 2018 to reach sales of Sh2. 5 billion

Gym membership in Nairobi ordinarily costs around Sh5, 000 – 7,000 per month. Some gyms are more expensive, but they also offer cheaper rates for longer membership plans which are usually longer than 3 months or one year. Before the pandemic, monthly rates for such facilities were around Sh3, 500 and Sh5, 500.

-Weight loss treatments helps one lose inches and fat by about 60 percent more effectively but are considered costly among middle class Kenyans and naturally need consistency

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