DENVER, CO (BRAIN)—Paul Zane Pilzer told several hundred specialty fitness retailers Thursday that the nation is no longer divided by race and gender. Instead, society finds itself divided by those who are fit and those who are overweight and unhappy.
“We have more than 195 million people today who are not enjoying this great country because they aren’t fit,” said Pilzer, an economist and professor, who was the opening keynote speaker at the Health and Fitness Business Expo.
Pilzer, an avid mountain biker, frequently referred to his joy at riding a mountain bike in the mountains near his home in Park City, Utah, as a reason for his desire to get fit and stay fit. However, Pilzer sees cycling, as well as the fitness industry, as part of a fast-developing trend that specialty retailers should view as the “wellness” industry.
And, essentially, they’re not selling fitness or cycling products but wellness products. Retailers need to tap into the desire by consumers who want to be well and to sell them the products that will make them well.
What’s driving the trend toward wellness, he said, is the rapid expansion of wealth in the nation and a generation of Baby Boomers who refuse to accept the fact that they are getting old. Boomers also have the money and time to spend on wellness. “Boomers make up 26 percent of the population and 50 percent of the spending,” he said.
The wellness industry, which broadly includes cycling and cycling sales, has, over the last five years, grown from a $200 billion industry to more than $500 billion today. He predicts that its rapid growth will continue pushing wellness sales to more than a trillion dollars over the next decade.
With 35 percent of the American population overweight and an additional 30 percent who are clinically obese, it has become a major health and cost problem for the nation. He puts the blame squarely on the food and medical industry. “All the problems we have with health today are not biological; it’s an economic problem,” he said.
The packaged food industry creates products that are unhealthy while the medical industry provides drugs to help control the diseases these products create. There is no emphasis on cures. He cited the explosive surge in Type II diabetes, especially among children as an example.
“The people who run the medical industry make the people who run the packaged food industry look like Mary Poppins,” Pilzer said. —Marc Sani