A new sub-category of wellness and self-care has emerged, and it is called “air care.”
Holistic wellness is often regarded as thinking about health and wellbeing from all angles. It includes what we eat for meals and how we work out, but also what we put on our skin and what we take to supplement our moods and energy. And it’s how we curate our spaces and what habits we form.
But one of the newest areas of holistic wellness and self-care comes down to the very air we breathe. Whether it is the quality of air, in terms of purity or humidity, or the scents we smell, “air care” looks to bring both inside and outside air under an umbrella of wellness. DTC humidifier brands like Canopy and Hey Dewy focus on the humidity of air, while air purifier company Skin Authority focuses on indoor air pollution — all of which impact one’s skin. Even salt therapy, which purports to help with improved breathing, has seen a resurgence in popularity since 2019.
When the 8-year-old essential oil and diffuser brand Virtuvi relaunched on April 5, the key focus was to brand the idea of “air care.” Vitruvi plans to launch into three undisclosed categories between 2022 and 2023, said Sara Panton, co-founder and CEO of Vitruvi. Another goal of the rebrand was to create cohesion across Vitruvi’s channels, including its DTC e-commerce site, its stores, its pop-ups and its social media. To get there, the company worked with creative agency Aruliden, which counts beauty brands Bad Habit, Supergoop and Glossier Play as past clients.
Key examples of the cohesion Vitruvi is going for include new custom-designed essential oil glass bottles and premium secondary packaging with a new typeface inspired by the whispy movement of air.
“[We want] to help consumers navigate scent through a complete sensorial experience, including the touch of the paper [packaging], the images, the colors they’re seeing and the way they shop online,” said Panton.
The categories that the brand will roll out next will “create new price points and places for people to personify who they are in their home through sent,” she said.
Vitruvi is looking at the air-care concept through different pillars, including in-home scenting and air purification, air moisture and general conformability. Panton compared what Vitruvi is trying to do in creating an air-care system to audio company Sonos, which developed a hi-fidelity home sound system. Vitruvi raised $4.5 million in Series A funding in Feb. 2020, and its sales doubled in 2020. Vitruvi had “positive” growth again in 2021, Panton said, though declined to elaborate.
The backdrop to this latest development is two-fold. First, the beauty and wellness industries have consistently crept into the home sphere for years, in areas like home cleaning and candles and, more recently, with household devices. Diffusers, air purifiers, humidifiers and dehumidifiers have all existed for decades, but were purchased solely in retailers like Home Depot. Today, they’re sold via Sephora and plant-retailer The Sill. With this ongoing merge, customers have become better acquainted with the benefits of cleaner and moisture-rich air on their skin and scent as part of their wellbeing.
Secondly, there is a genuine crisis around air quality that is informing consumer industries of market opportunities. Microplastics were recently found in living lung tissue from patients who lived and worked in urban areas, which physicians previously thought was impossible. And without proper regulations, urban air pollution is expected to cause hundreds of thousands of premature deaths in years to come. At the same time, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans, on average, spend approximately 90% of their time indoors, where the concentrations of some pollutants are often 2X-5X higher than typical outdoor concentrations. Covid-19 further helped underscore how particles travel through the air and how delicate the human respiratory system is.
In The Wellness Institute, in Nov. 2020, economist Thierry Malleret said, “Improving air quality or avoiding air pollution will become an explicit wellness offering. The current emphasis on indoor air quality in wellness real estate will benefit from more wind in their sails (sales).”
To that effect, when Dyson announced its new noise-canceling headphones combined with a personal air purification system, the concept was not far-flung, even though its appearance (and the launch ahead of April Fool’s) prompted skepticism. Price point and distribution plans have not yet been announced.
The noise-canceling headphones, called Zone, are a new space for Dyson as it has not ventured into audio before. The Zone sucks in air through the earpieces using tiny compressors. The air is then filtered and flowed through a magnetically-attached visor for people to breathe from. The visor does not touch someone’s face but instead creates a gap that forms an area of clean air and can be removed.
“Zone was designed [because of] city pollution. [People became] more aware [of air quality] with the effect of Covid-19. It’s shone a spotlight on air pollution and the fact that most cities aren’t meeting the World Health Organization’s recommended guidelines for air pollution across the whole year,” said David Hill, senior design manager at Dyson.
In 2019, Dyson positioned itself as a “well-being” company, with its mix of traditional beauty appliances, like its hairdryer, and better-for-you lighting said to not disrupt circadian rhythms. Dyson has offered indoor air purifiers since 2015 but is now setting its sights on the outdoor space with its miniaturized filtration technology.
It remains to be seen how consumers will come to understand air care and the link between scent-decorating a home with candles and diffusers versus preventing genuine health threats like pollution. To back up the claim that people can become used to Zone, Hill pointed to the use of masks in Asia before Covid-19, in response to urban pollution, combined with the normalization of masks in Western cultures since the start of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Vitruvi relaunched its website alongside the branding refresh to better tell its air-care story. The tagline “Make the air yours” is now prominently featured on the homepage.
“The need [for air care] has always been there, and with [our] very intentional narrative and hand-holding, we will help the consumer understand their [air-care] needs in a deeper way,” said Panton. “In doing so, we’ll become a household name and a household need in a room, which is different from lighting a luxury candle to feel nice.”
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