It’s Black Friday at a big-box store that is practically giving away TVs. The bright overhead lights are buzzing and the aisles are packed with people. Overhead speakers blare energetic music that thumps against the sound of multiple televisions playing different channels simultaneously. The store signage is big, bold, and colorful. Screens flash advertisements as you walk by. Sales associates flutter around the crowded sales floor answering questions and offering recommendations to impatient shoppers. The air is filled with the scent of new electronics mixed with various samples from the nearby perfume counter.
Does this sound like a pleasant shopping experience to you— this constant barrage of stimuli? For many, it can lead to confusion, fatigue, and increased anxiety, making it difficult to navigate the store and make informed purchase decisions. But we’ve all had those experiences at stores that were, well, too much.
Sensory overload anecdotes aside, we are witnessing the meteoric rise of retail design trends in the wellness space toward a much more mellow vibe–and it’s not just the “old folks” complaining about the music is too loud. It makes sense given the number of people experiencing mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
As individuals become more aware of their own mental health and the mental health of others, tides are shifting in favor of more calming, sensory-friendly shopping experiences that prioritize comfort and sense of well-being: mindful retail. Brands have the opportunity to revolutionize the way we shop–and how we feel while doing it.
In response to the growing emphasis on mental well-being, some retailers are pioneering wellness-focused concept stores that carefully curate products and services with the intention of promoting mental wellness.
These innovative establishments offer a diverse array of items, from essential oils to natural beauty products, herbal supplements, stress-relief tools, and relaxation aids. Some businesses even serve as platforms for hosting workshops, classes and events centered around mindfulness, and self-care and stress reduction, enabling customers to proactively nurture their mental health.
CAP Beauty specializes in natural and holistic beauty products focusing on high-quality plant-based ingredients. They are popular for their curated selection of clean beauty and wellness products and educational workshops and events promoting a holistic approach to beauty and well-being. The NYC flagship store has become a go-to destination for those seeking natural, effective, and sustainable beauty and wellness products, as well as a source of inspiration and education in the clean beauty industry.
Millennial focused-skincare franchise Heyday wants to turn the idea of the facial on its head–from a rare indulgence to a monthly must-have. Its curated edit of today’s leading independent natural brands and ground-floor shop experience are rooted in convenience, style, and ease. With personalized facials, progressive products, and professional guidance, the brand is continuing on a growth path, riding the self-care wave.
The Alchemist’s Kitchen is a unique wellness concept store that combines herbal apothecary, café, and event space. They offer a variety of herbal remedies, plant-based products, and superfoods, along with herbal elixirs and tonics. The NYC flagship store also hosts workshops, classes, and community events centered around herbalism and holistic wellness.
Sensory Retail Experiences: A Multi-Sensory Approach
Retailers are recognizing the importance of cultivating a tranquil and calming ambiance within their stores, leading to immersive sensory experiences. Through calming scents, gentle lighting, soft music and the inclusion of nature-inspired decor, retailers can create a multi-sensory experience that soothes and relaxes visitors. Studies show customers aren’t the only ones to benefit from these sensory experiences, either.
Shoppers tend to shop longer in stores that play soft, soothing music that isn’t complexly structured. Retailers need also to consider how to create a better retail employee experience, particularly in an industry that has had increasing trouble recruiting and retaining great associates.
Look to stores like Aesop and West Elm for examples of brands that have thoughtfully designed an environment where shoppers want to stay. Walk into any of their stores and you may smell carefully-selected scents, hear peaceful ambient music, and see soft lighting and comfortable seating areas.
Mindful Retail Spaces: A focus on quality and sustainability
Determined to find a place where you can relax, meditate, and train your mind to better serve you, you venture to a calming corner at one of your favorite spaces. Yet you’re not at a high-end wellness spa.
Instead, you’re at Lululemon, an athletic apparel retailer. With spaces designed for meditating and yoga, the store focuses on creating a holistic and calming environment for customers who can participate in classes or simply choose a quiet place to relax. You can even take a breather on one of the store’s Tune beds, which use music frequencies and vibrations to help you meditate. Lululemon is one of several retailers that are focused on creating mindful shopping spaces. Designed to encourage a slower, more intentional approach to shopping, these spaces feature minimalistic aesthetics and instead focus on quality and sustainability.
At Japanese retailer MUJI, you’ll see clean, uncluttered layouts where minimalism blends with functionality. This creates an inviting and serene shopping environment that aligns with the company’s commitment to simplicity and mindful living. MUJI’s products are designed with a focus on simplicity and functionality, which resonates with the wellness philosophy of decluttering and simplifying one’s life. MUJI often collaborates with wellness experts and hosts workshops and events focused on various aspects of well-being.
Community Support and Resources
Transcending only product offerings, some retailers are serving as vibrant community hubs that provide valuable resources and support for individuals grappling with anxiety and depression.
These unique spaces go beyond traditional retail settings, embracing a holistic approach to mental health through community support services. Within these havens, visitors can engage in support groups, attend workshops and participate in educational events focused on mental well-being.
An advocate for outdoor activities, REI has also taken steps to acknowledge the profound mental health advantages that stem from immersing oneself in nature. Recognizing the therapeutic potential of spending time outdoors, they have formed collaborations with diverse organizations, facilitating events, classes, and workshops that specifically emphasize outdoor activities as effective tools for coping with anxiety, depression, and stress. By actively promoting the connection between nature and mental well-being, REI strives to empower individuals, providing them with transformative experiences and valuable resources to enhance their mental health and overall sense of well-being.
At CVSHealth HealthHUBs customers can access a range of expanded health services, including mental health services–from depression screenings to visits with licensed therapists and even Here4U, a series of online peer support groups focused on social connectedness. These services foster connection and enable participants to share experiences, find solace, and gain access to relevant information, empowering them on their mental health journeys.
As a brand with a mission of empowering girls and women, performance clothing brand Athleta aims to develop deep relationships with new and existing customers through its AthletaWell platform. The immersive site aims to create a safe space for women to connect on a range of topics rooted in female well-being. Members have free access to vetted experts, premium content from partners, and even personalized workouts.
Mindful Retail Growth
Mindful retailers go beyond traditional shopping, offering immersive experiences that prioritize self-care and holistic wellness. As consumers increasingly seek balance and calm, the rise of mindful retail design trends reflects a growing recognition of the importance of nurturing our mental and emotional well-being. By embracing this trend, retailers have the opportunity to create havens of serenity and connect with customers on a deeper level, fostering a sense of peace and rejuvenation in the midst of the modern world.
These innovative wellness brands are rocking retail. Who’s on the list?