Table of Contents:
- Climate-Adaptive Wellness
- The Power of the Pilgrimage
- From Manning Up to Opening Up
- The Rise of Postpartum Wellness
- Longevity Has Longevity
- A Wellness Check for Weight Loss Drugs
- Sports Finds Its Footing In Hospitality
- The Home as Highest-Tech-Health-Hub
- A New Multisensory, Immersive Art for Wellness
- Under the Radar
February is often regarded as a month of love due to Valentine’s Day. However, it’s not just limited to romance. This can apply to friendship (hello Galentine’s Day), family and self love. Aligning with a month of self love and self care, the Global Wellness Summit’s annual trends report officially launched last week to reveal two distinct wellness categories called hardcare and softcare. “Hardcare describes the new hyper-medical, high-tech, super-complex, even more expensive, wellness market; softcare captures new desires for a low-pressure, simpler, less expensive, less relentlessly self-optimizing wellness, where emotional, social and spiritual wellbeing matter most,” Beth McGroarty, VP of Research and Forecasting at the Global Wellness Institute shares. “While the media loves to make totalizing pronouncements about wellness… there is no longer one wellness narrative, unifying trend, or market. The future is both “harder” and “softer” care, and that polarity will only widen in the future.” Based on these two outstanding themes, here are 10 trends from the wellness trends report, which contains insights from hundreds of health and wellness experts, to inspire your marketing strategies and business operations.
1. Climate-Adaptive Wellness
It’s forecasted that innovative ways to cool our bodies, homes and cities will come into trend in what the report calls “climate-adaptive wellness.” These approaches to cool off will impact architecture and design with more green space, tree cover and rooftop gardens as well as high-tech building materials like heat-reflective paint for roads and roofs. Adding to tech innovation, smart-tech cooling clothing is anticipated to go mainstream with wearables that monitor the body’s heat indicators from core temperature to hydration and electrolyte levels. We’ve already seen this trend come to light at CES 2024, where TORRAS launched its COOLiFY Cyber adjustable neck fan featuring three speed settings, a double vent design and 360-degree cooling relief through 36 air outlets.
2. The Power of the Pilgrimage
The effects of daily walks that once took over TikTok are felt on a global level as a “record number” of travelers opt for multi-day hikes enriched with spiritual exploration and cultural heritage in countries across the world. This includes nearly half a million people (a new record) completing the Camino de Santiago in Spain in 2023. Other popular destinations include Japan’s Shikoku 88 and the Michinoku Coastal Trail, along with places in Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India and Italy, which the government has put through extensive restorations to promote holistic tourism. This type of slow, meditative travel which fosters a deeper engagement with one’s surroundings, is being picked up by savvy resorts as they seek to offer wellness programs that incorporate journeys between sacred sites and participation in religious services. In an article published by Travel + Leisure pilgrimage researcher Dr. Heather Warfield explains that pilgrimages do not have to be religious, citing non-religious examples as literary pilgrimages, including “visiting one’s ancestral home, sports pilgrimages such as going to Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin; visits to battlefields and/or war ruins.”
3. From Manning Up to Opening Up
In trend three, we see shifts in the wellness space intentionally open up to include men and remove the cliched view of masculinity often associated with men and wellness. Instead of “warrior-like fitness challenges” and “tough-guy biohacks,” the Global Wellness Summit notes a cultural shift that’s underway in which “softer” new wave forms of wellness will serve as a catalyst to combat the rising consequences of male loneliness as 15% of men report having zero close friendships. Mental health apps designed specifically by and for men are examples of this trend in action, along with a rise in men’s retreats like EVRYMAN and Junto. Men’s group EVRYMAN, includes paid, nationwide in-person groups, weekend retreats and months-long online programs on topics like emotional authenticity and leadership. Here, men are welcome to show their deepest, most vulnerable sides as well as joy, pride and accomplishments that are happening within their lives.
4. The Rise of Postpartum Wellness
We’ve seen the jokes on social media — you wait for your postpartum doctor’s appointment and you’re in and out in 10 minutes tops, having been told to take care of your mental health and drink more water. The Global Wellness Summit cites that new, comprehensive postpartum wellness is taking many directions – spanning from the high-end (postpartum retreat traditions focused on deep rest, healthy food, etc.) to the more entry-level (apps addressing the mental health of new parents). On the wellness consumer goods market side, we’re seeing an explosion of options including postpartum skincare, supplements and physical wellness (hello Fridaybaby and your oh-so-witty copy). The report does note that true postpartum wellness would mean a “dramatic change in the current post-birth experience, with access to an integrated medical and wellness team.”
5. Longevity Has Longevity
Driven by an aging population seeking a longer healthspan, the longevity wellness pillar, which looks at the entire interconnected economy of health, is anticipated to be worth $610 billion by 2025. One major approach to the longevity trend identifies eight key areas of research driving the practical applications of longevity, such as research on drugs that can remove senescent cells, AI-driven healthcare and personalized plans grounded in genetic, epigenetic and biomarker testing. Other approaches are deemed more experimental, such as stem cell treatments, plasma exchange and biohacking/recovery treatments including IV drips, cryotherapy and ozone therapy. High-end gyms are moving into longevity clinic territory by offering preventative diagnostic testing and some wellness resorts are leaning into lo-fi longevity, offering Blue Zone-inspired retreats to keep guests connecting, cooking and moving. Our client Dr. Kerry Burnight has dedicated her career to encouraging a longer lifespan and making older better through years of gerontology research, care and advocacy. With her book on “how to live a great life all the way to the end” in the works, we developed a website for her to share her mission of making older better, together which aligns perfectly with the trend of longevity!
6. A Wellness Check for Weight Loss Drugs
The number of people taking weight-loss drugs has skyrocketed, according to the Global Wellness Summit, and at least 70 new drugs are in development with cheaper and effective ones such as Zepbound hitting the market this year. While proponents argue this could end the global obesity epidemic and save millions of lives, others question the long-term health impact of the drugs and the fact that they don’t equate to the exercise, healthy food and mental wellness factors that are needed to deliver holistic health. As a result, the report predicts that the wellness world will start to question how it can provide more honest, fully integrative, whole-health weight-loss approaches. This would span from nutrition coaching to fitness to mental health services and metabolic healthy analyses that work as a “wellness companion” to those weight-loss drugs, and eventually help people get off of them.
7. Sports Finds Its Footing In Hospitality
Group fitness is where it’s at! Rather than solo gym sessions, we’re seeing a trend of more people training like near-elite athletes with social scenarios reigning supreme. This can range from the pickleball trend and gym buddies to premier fitness, like BoxHaus which allows beginners and pros alike to turn to boxing as a total body workout. On February 29th, we’ll be hosting an Evening of Wellness Marketing where you can get the chance to hear from BoxHaus co-founder and coach Andre Huseman about the sports hospitality market. Tickets are on sale now! In addition, the report notes that new hospitality brands, such as Equinox Hotels, are aiming to specifically attract elite athletes.
8. The Home as Highest-Tech-Health-Hub
Your home is your sanctuary… now more than ever, according to the Global Wellness Summit. The growing emphasis on wellness-focused homes continues to expand with homes and even cities becoming high-tech, multi-faceted health hubs. This can include a rise in medical-grade health-monitoring systems, smart furnishings that adjust in real-time to individual well-being needs and everything that falls into the “health at home” category. We saw high-tech home gear revealed at CES 2024 with the DeRucci Smart Anti-Snoring Pillow, which recognizes when a sleeper is snoring and intervenes by adjusting the loft height of the pillow and position of the sleeper’s head. As for intuitive and supportive cities, one local real estate organization we work with specializes in creating healthy spaces for residents to not just live, but thrive, with green spaces, parks, trails and premier shopping/dining destinations all close by. Ensuring the happiness of those that live in their city, KPIs for the company’s retail spaces focus less on sales and more on foot traffic with the goal being a space for people to go.
9. A New Multisensory, Immersive Art for Wellness
Rather than the traditional art experience, which tends to be more passive as we stare at a painting or sit next to a sculpture garden, this year, we’ll see more immersive art experiences offered. This includes work by tech-enabled artists featuring projection mapping and spatial sound technologies that allow people to engage all of their senses and participate. At resorts, this can include immersive art that complements amenities such as a video skyscape of stormy skies surrounding a hydropool (Termemilano spa in Milan, Italy). In the home, our client South Bay International recently announced its Enfinity Lounger motion sofa that utilizes the company’s adjustable bed base technology to offer a number configurations, including a recliner, lounger, modular arms and a center storage console. Adding to its infinite number of uses, the scratch- and water-resistant reclining sofa includes a removable back cover to facilitate conversion into a flat sleeping surface and head tilt for television viewing. Pair this with surround sound and mood lighting, and you’ve got the ultimate multisensory, immersive art experience from the comfort of home.
10. Under the Radar
Destigmatizing mental health issues continues to be a topic of conversation and Simon Biles did a keynote presentation on this issue, retelling how her mental health made it necessary for her to withdraw from the 2020 Olympics. She also made the comparison that while mental health is an internal issue that is not visibly seen, like a cast on a broken leg, it should be taken seriously. Brands that speak up for mental health and partner with organizations that do are not only recognized and respected in the public eye, but they’re able to make a lasting difference in their communities.
Which of these trends will your organization tap into? Visit us at our Evening of Wellness Marketing event on February 29th to hear from a panel of experts throughout various wellness industries, including personal care, physical and emotional wellbeing, and med tech! If you enjoyed today’s wellness blog, subscribe to our podcast to catch our upcoming episode with Communications Strategist Heidi Moon of the Global Wellness Summit and Global Wellness Institute as we discuss these wellness trends and more in further detail!