3 minute read time
November 4, 2021

Health and wellness service providers are no longer content to be stuck on the third floor of some old building, hidden from public view.

According to CBRE’s Toronto-based retail broker Jackson Turner, a new generation of wellness providers—from registered massage therapists to fertility clinics to Botox and laser hair removal services—want their offerings out in the open, ideally with a street-facing, brand forward, Instagram-able retail presence.

“Medical users are becoming more and more active in the urban retail market,” Turner explains. “Five years ago, health and wellness businesses weren’t looking to spend money on traditional retail space. They may have wanted a good location but were okay with being on the second or third floor of an office building or a medical building.

“But now they are forced to innovate to keep up with the times and create buzz on social media. So they want visibility in an area with lots of eyes on it, and a cutting-edge design to differentiate their business.”

Medical service providers are attractive to institutional landlords, who see these operators as destination-driven retailers who offer great amenities to other tenants in the building and also draw people into their properties.

Health and wellness service providers go all in on social media

A perfect example is Myodetox, which has taken the sterile registered massage therapist (RMT) clinic concept and turned it on its head. “They put more money into the build-out, focused on customer acquisition through Instagram and social media and they’ve created this cool brand,” says Turner. “They’re attracting a different demographic.”

In another case, Twig Fertility opened a large clinic at the corner of Avenue Road and Eglinton Avenue in Toronto, one of the city's most affluent areas. "We have reimagined every aspect of the clinical experience to be more thoughtful, more personal and more comfortable for you," the Twig website notes. "Our new clinic is tech-enabled at every stage."

“They’re trying to get rid of the stigma," says Turner. "A lot of people deal with fertility challenges in private, and they want to bring awareness to it and make this an approachable, welcoming spot. You can come in and ask questions, get to know more about it.”

Then there’s cosmetic services, such as Botox and laser hair removal — more popular than ever with a population that’s spent the last year and a half inspecting their own faces on video calls — whose providers are in heated competition for spaces that will help them to set their offerings apart.

“It’s all about being Instagram-able, having a storefront that people walk by and go, Whoa, what is that?” Turner says. “You need something that gets people talking and posting about their experience once they are in the door.”

Health and wellness tenants are following the lead of fashion retailers in seeking out cool spaces that appeal to people on social media.

“We’re at a turning point. No matter what type of retailer you’re in you can’t rely purely on bricks and mortar,” says Turner. “Social media is a massive driver in the retailing business and this has been accelerated by people being locked down during the pandemic. It’s a new generation of shopping.”

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