A practical analysis of the characteristics of Movements vs Industries. By Trent Munday
Last year at the Professional Spa & Beauty Convention in Dubai when I made the statement that “Wellness is a Movement, not an Industry,” it ruffled a few feathers. My goal was to get people thinking and encourage some robust discussions and it certainly did just that. Interestingly, most of the reaction, in the heat of the moment, was highly defensive. But I wasn’t suggesting that being a Movement is a bad thing. In fact, the opposite is true. It is much easier to get people passionate about a Movement than about an Industry.
Let’s establish a clear example of each before we get started. Gay Rights is a Movement. The Automotive Industry is, well, an Industry.
Remember the video that went viral towards the end of 2016 with a guy explaining all the problems with the Millennial generation? The naysayer was author and speaker, Simon Sinek. He wrote a book a few years ago entitled Start With Why. The key point of his book is that people care more about why you do something than what it is you actually do.
Movements are all about why. If we accept this, then it basically follows that a Movement is more powerful than an Industry. And yet most people that I speak to are offended when I question if we in Wellness are really an Industry or not. It’s as if they see it as questioning the legitimacy of the work they are doing.
The Oxford Dictionary defines a Movement as a group of people working together to advance their shared political, social, or artistic ideas. Industry is defined as a particular form or branch of economic or commercial activity.
You could easily argue that Wellness can be both. But let’s take a more detailed look at a few attributes of each and see if where that leaves us…
1. An industry is guided by standards. A movement is rooted in values.
Standards within the world of Wellness are definitely something lots of people talk about. But I think we’re a long way from having anything like a uniform set of standards. So, on this one, I’d have to say Wellness is Movement.
2. An industry becomes more uniform over time. A movement becomes more diverse.
Destination Spas, Day Spas, Hotel Spas, Ayurveda, Massage, Spiritual Healing, Wellness Living, etc., etc. Diversity seems to be a bit of a theme here, doesn’t it? Once again, on this score, I’d have to say Wellness fits better in the Movement classification.
The score so far… Movement = 2; Industry = 0
3. An industry is inoculated against passions and fads that flare up outside its walls. A movement is contagious, influencing institutions, individuals, and ideas beyond itself.
Just look at the new Wellness Trends we trot out every year! Rather than trying to inoculate ourselves against these trends (or maybe more accurately, fads) we seem to embrace them. Each year we eagerly await the latest trends report to see which way we should be going. It reminds me a bit of the movie Groundhog Day where the good folks of Punxsutawney turn to Phil each year to set the direction for the season.
4. An industry is exclusive, with barriers to entry that become higher over time. A movement is inclusive, with boundaries that are barely there.
This one’s a bit interesting. In some ways, I think we do try to position ourselves as exclusive. Much of the focus of spas and wellness has definitely been on the more affluent consumers. But I don’t think this is necessarily about building barriers to entry. It’s simply a matter of targeting the lower hanging fruit first. It’s hard to think of any major barrier to entry for an outsider wanting to get into the Wellness field. And as a group, I think we generally pride ourselves on welcoming outsiders with open arms. Indeed, if anything, we want more people getting onboard the Wellness train. Even from a purely business standpoint, this makes sense. It’s a case of growing the overall pie rather than cannibalising the existing market.
Final Tally… Movement = 4; Industry = 0
So, on balance, it seems we are a Movement, and not an Industry – at least not yet.
A great test of all these attributes is to ask someone from outside the world of spa and wellness. Ask them how they see this world of ours. Any time I’ve done this, the answers always come back the same. On first glance, they would call us an Industry, because there’s obviously some business happening here. But look a little deeper and all the indicators seem to point to Movement.
What’s the point? Who cares if Wellness is a Movement or an Industry anyway? Does it really matter?
Well, I would suggest that as soon as you want to start charging people money for something, you’d better start thinking Industry, not Movement.
If we’re all going to hang out in the park on Sunday afternoon and meditate together, in a communal bid for Wellness, that’s great. But if you want to charge me $100 to come to your spa to have someone teach me how to meditate, at that point I want to know that there are some standards in place. I want to know there are some Industry Guidelines that define what I will get for my money.
Either embrace the Movement or define the Industry.