Sun, 08 August 2021
Like millions around the world, the pandemic took me on a self-care journey and I found several wonderful resources that have helped me in many small ways. Recently, I read a statistic that completely amazed me: Every month, around 45 million people Google “how to be happy”. That’s just for the exact phrase. There could be a similarly high number for variations of the same phrase. That, is the market for “happiness”.
The happiness business landscape is everything that goes into wellness – physical or emotional. It includes nutritional tools and trackers, meditation tools, journaling, yoga, fitness, self-help podcasts, habit changing tools, personal and skill development platforms, sleep training techniques etc - the list goes on. It even includes all the blogs and posts related to any of the above.
While happiness is an esoteric concept, every element of personal growth is intrinsically aimed at helping individuals experience happiness and learn to sustain the element that led them there. Tools that help you get there usually charge a fee for membership or, like all media, gain from your data. The money involved is at staggering levels. As per an article published by McKinsey & Company, the wellness market is valued at 1.5 trillion dollars .
Wellness companies include things we all use every day like the Fitbit on your wrist or the WebMD portal that you use when you have a scratchy throat. In 2017, WebMD was sold for a whopping USD 2.8 billion. Fitbit is being bought over by Google at a valuation of approximately USD 2.1 billion. One of the renowned wellness education platforms Mindvalley has over half a million members, which at an average fee of approximately USD 60 per month depending on the membership plan translates to annual revenues of around USD 360 million. In 2020, Calm, the well-known meditation app, raised money at an approximate valuation of USD two billion.
Happiness is a very serious business and businesses have been taking the concept very seriously. An increasing number of companies are hiring Chief Happiness Officers (CHO) whose job, as the name suggests, is to ensure the overall wellbeing of the employees. An internet search led me to a place called “Happiness Business School” that trains people to be chief happiness officers. About 69 percent of large organisations have people analytics teams and a company called Atos has developed a digital version of this CHO which is an open data platform with machine learning capabilities with privacy at the core of the entire system.
The pandemic has brought about so many changes in the way we experience the world, and isolation allowed for a lot of people to focus inward again. Digitisation meant that we now have yoga platforms, fitness apps and mindfulness techniques literally at our fingertips. Research reveals how you can structure your day to be ideally suited to your circadian rhythm, or how to plan and prioritise yourself or specific productivity levels. You could choose to join Robin Sharma’s “5 am club” or follow James Clear (of the “Atomic Habits” fame) in his techniques for changing habits.
The business world clearly sees the missing link and the potential of this wellness space. They are counting on the fact that, you and I, as individuals will catch up quickly to what they see as an inevitable change. Our wellness is interesting enough for others to invest in – is it interesting enough for us to start investing in ourselves?