October 11, 2018 View in browser

As an avid runner, I admit, I was a little skeptical to hear about Ghost Race, a series of eight-kilometer "virtual" road races put on by Strava and Lululemon. What's the fun in doing a race by yourself, without hearing the huffing and puffing of runners next to you or the applause and words of encouragement from total strangers?

But I may be too cynical –– especially because the series, taking place in 12 cities across the U.S. and Canada, could be marketing gold for the brands, helping them win an even bigger slice of the wellness industry pie. According to new data from the Global Wellness Report, that industry has ballooned in recent years and is now valued at $4.2 trillion.

Runners can find the race map on Strava, and complete the race at any time during a 10-day time frame (no 7 a.m. start time –– a definite perk). Then, runners save their results on Strava, of course, and celebrate with an in-person, post-race party hosted by both brands.

The Strava and Lululemon partnership is a unique pairing, and could inspire other fitness companies to follow suit –– and build buzz by further tapping into the on-demand fitness and digital tracking trend. (In other "taking advantage of trends" news, Equinox is launching wellness luxury tours.) At the same time, they're not leaving people like me, who enjoy a little camaraderie, out in the cold: You can run with a Lululemon ambassador-led group at designated times. Still, we will see whether the events will drum up enough hype for the model to make sense for other brands to enter the race.

For feedback or news tips, reach out via email at lb@skift.com or tweet me @lesliebarrie.

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Lululemon and Strava Team Up for Virtual Events

The Ghost Race, a series of eight-kilometer "virtual" road races in 12 cities hosted by Strava and Lululemon, could help the brands own a bigger chunk of the wellness industry market. Still, there's no guarantee the events will drum up enough hype for the idea to encourage other brands to enter the race.

On the Rise: Wellness Is Now a $4.2 Trillion Industry

Wellness is expanding in key sectors, from luxury real estate to workplaces, from the travel industry to spa retreats, and it's no surprise to us here at Skift. What's pretty shocking: The wellness industry grew 6.4 percent annually from 2015 to 2017, compared to just 3.6 percent for overall global economic growth, according to Global Wellness Institute data. That's major business.

Equinox to Launch New Luxury Wellness Tours

Fitness clubs have to get creative to stay in the game, and Equinox is doing just that. The brand has two new hotels launching next year –– one in New York and the other in Los Angeles –– so it makes sense that they'd also expand to offer travel experiences in 2019 for the wellness-minded adventure and relaxation seeker.

An Early Goop Investor Looks for Cult-Like Loyalty in Wellness Brands

Felix Capital founder Frederic Court has a strong record of backing successful digital lifestyle and wellness brands –– Peloton, Mejuri, FarFetch, and Goop, to name a few. His secret to finding companies worth investing in? Seeking out brands with close-knit communities and genuine customer love.

Wellness Could Provide a Possible Antidote for Overtourism

Overtourism is a serious problem within the travel industry, and the growth of wellness tourism may be a needed solution. Retreats often take those looking for a mental escape to rural regions outside of main hubs — like Italy's South Tyrol, located a few hours from Venice. This destination diversity might contribute to a healthier travel ecosystem.

Hyatt Dives Further Into Wellness With Exhale Loyalty Program Integration

Well-being is top of mind for Hyatt CEO Mark Hoplamazian, so it's a natural move for the company to offer loyalty perks at Exhale, just over a year after they acquired the boutique fitness and spa brand. Now it's just a matter of making the Exhale part of the loyalty program work on a Hyatt-size scale.

Natural Beauty Brand Kopari Jabs Non-Wellness Rivals in Its New Ad

Is it a convincing campaign? Yes. The coconut oil-based beauty company mocks its behind-the-times competitors in the deodorant category, claiming they're slowly poisoning customers with aluminum and chemicals in their formulas. It's a bold move, considering the American Cancer Society says that "no clear link has been made between antiperspirants containing aluminum and breast cancer." We'll see if Kopari's rivals fight back, or if it's a marketing win.

REI Is Staying Loyal to Its Brand by Remaining Closed on Black Friday

If the whole ethos of your company is to encourage people to go outside, what better statement can you make than to close your doors — and not process online orders — on Black Friday for a fourth year in a row, and promote an #OptOutside campaign? It's a case study in company authenticity, and it appears to be paying off for REI.

Skift Wellness Editor Leslie Barrie [lb@skift.com] curates the Skift Wellness newsletter. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

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