In Insight, Trend

Leading up to the Global Wellness Summit, a VIP Roundtable was hosted in Tokyo, where several of Japan’s most powerful opportunities in wellness both at home and abroad were surfaced. The $4.2 trillion wellness economy is booming, and Japan is uniquely positioned to capture their share. Inbound wellness travel, J-Beauty, futuristic wellness real estate, technology solutions for the longevity economy, and a new emphasis on mental health in the workplace will drive Japan’s strong future in wellness

No wellness tourism market will grow faster than Asia’s through 2022, with revenues projected to double from $137 billion to $252 billion. Japan has been underestimating the value of its wellness culture and destinations. These authentic assets could be leveraged to drive more sustainable, high-revenue tourism.

1. Strong Assets for an Inbound Wellness Tourism 

Asia has been the eye-opening growth leader in the $639 billion global wellness tourism market: Wellness trips in Asia grew a staggering 33 percent from 2015–2017 (reaching 258 million annually). While Japan’s market ranks fifth in the world, it has seen more modest recent growth in wellness tourism than other Asian nations. Japan has unique assets that wellness travelers hunger for—from a traditional hot springs culture to forest bathing—there’s no shortage of opportunities for the country to promote Japanese wellness and increase its inbound wellness travel market. Wellness tourists are big spenders; an inbound wellness tourism surge would be a powerful weapon in tackling the two critical tourism issues Japan faces: moving tourists out of the over-touristed Kyoto-Osaka-Tokyo routes and addressing the imbalance of exploding foreign arrivals without an increase in tourism dollars.

2. The Rise of  J-Beauty 

Wellness is rewriting the $1.1 trillion beauty market, as natural, functional, non-toxic, and sustainable ingredients surge, with consumers seeking prevention over repair and hyper-personalized regimens. K-Beauty has dominated the industry but J-Beauty is surging, as Japan’s high-tech, high-nature approaches dovetail with current beauty trends. Japanese beauty focuses on minimalism, prevention, and protection; multi-step rituals emphasizing purity and cleansing routines; ancient yet powerful ingredients; science and technology. The goal: skin so healthy, bright, and luminous (“bihaku”) that little makeup is needed.

3. Pioneer of Smart, Healthy Homes & Cities of the Future

Where we live determines 80–90 percent of our health outcomes, so new wellness real estate and communities are the next frontiers. Asia, with rising incomes and cities choked by urban sprawl and pollution, will be the world’s largest wellness real estate market by 2022, with a projected value of $78 billion. One key subsegment of the wellness real estate market is the new, super-smart, connected cities of the future that will bring on-demand wellness into the world’s urban homes and neighborhoods. Building the “smart-well” cities of the future is a natural opportunity for Japan, with companies such as Panasonic, Sony, NEC, Hitachi, Fujitsu, Philips, etc.

4. Beyond Millennials: Japan’s Age-Tech Opportunity

The world is aging at a historic pace: People aged 50+ will nearly double by 2050 to 3.2 billion. And Japan, with its plummeting birthrate and super-longevity, is the first super-aging nation: 27 percent of people are over 65, and by 2050, Japan will have 70 retirees for every 100 workers. This brings many challenges but also new opportunities: products and services for older people are a vast $15 trillion global market, and Japan has a unique opportunity to innovate for the coming longevity economy. With a history of ingenious, people-focused tech and design, Japan could pioneer products/solutions that help people age better, from tech that helps people stay mobile to the reinvention of senior housing.

5.  Workplace Wellness in Japan: Focus on Mental Wellness

Asia is infamous for its culture of overwork, where grueling hours are glorified. Japan, which even has a term for “death by overwork” (“karoshi”), has been taking real steps to improve its work culture. It is now the second-largest national workplace wellness market (behind the US), spending $3.9 billion annually, with roughly one in three workers having access to some type of workplace wellness initiatives. But the big focus has been on physical health/fitness, when data shows that Japanese workplaces need to zero in on mental wellness, given fast-rising rates of anxiety and depression. Look for mental health services to be “un-tabooed” in the workplace. And expect to see alternative mental wellness approaches, such as meditation, yoga, healthy sleep programs, and biophilic office design.

Read the full Global Wellness Summit Identifies Five Wellness Market Trends for Japan report here. 

Photo: Juniper Photon via Unsplash

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