As 2020 began, we turned our attention to looking at this new decade and considering ‘what’s next’ for key sectors. Our predictions for the future wellness landscape focus on a need to slow down, embrace moderation and find balance.
Now with the COVID-19 crisis taking hold globally, we believe that not only will these trends remain relevant but will gain greater importance and accelerate with a steeper trajectory.
Health and wellness is naturally taking on a new significance in our lives, and looking ahead to the time when we emerge from isolation, and the industry caters to a re-framed state of mind, we highlight the key shifts that are driving a new era of wellbeing.
Recalibrating for the 2020’s
The rapid acceleration and dominance of the wellness revolution was a defining theme of the last decade and it has grown into a highly influential $4.2 trillion industry, placed front and centre of our lifestyles. Yet despite our well-intentioned efforts, we ended the 2010’s feeling anxious and overwhelmed, with burnout arising as a crisis of our times.
The dawn of the 2020’s signals a timely opportunity to consciously reassess, recalibrate and take a new approach. Recognising that wellness is not all about extreme diets, constant self-tracking and ultramarathons, we are acknowledging that we must be kinder to ourselves, and move away from unrealistic expectations and unrelenting regimes. Instead of quick-fix mentalities, we are seeing the emphasis shift to small, smart and sustainable changes that will nonetheless make a big difference.
As the sector continues to evolve and its parameters are redefined, we are seeing attention extend beyond the physical health of the body, to incorporate more of an equal focus on mind and soul, a shift from wellness to wellbeing. We will take a more considered approach, with greater emphasis on slowing down, embracing moderation and finding the balance needed to combat stress, anxiety and safeguard our mental and emotional wellbeing. LS:N Global has coined the term ‘Conscious Deceleration’ as it signals a decelerated pace of living that will influence health and wellbeing futures, while Giana Eckhardt, professor of marketing at Royal Holloway has published a paper entitled ‘Consumer Deceleration’ and declares that “slowing down is the new status symbol.”
So how is consumer behaviour manifesting and how is this influencing the future of the wellbeing sector?
Take it slow
In terms of exercise, high intensity interval training has been incredibly popular in recent years, but there is a growing realisation that unless it is being balanced with low intensity movement then it could be doing us more harm than good. Now rather than putting all our energy into HIIT, we are embracing mindful exercise and restorative fitness that focuses on varying workout intensity and draws attention to the importance of rest, repair and recovery. The narrative is shifting to moving your body to feel good, rather than to look good.
We are also looking beyond tech-enhanced workouts and the four walls of the gym, driven by a strong desire to reconnect with nature. Wellbeing is moving into the outdoors as we turn to active relaxation, influencing the resurgence of the outerwear market.
When it comes to travel, we are shunning aeroplanes in favour of more leisurely modes of transport such as trains, boats, bikes, horseback and walking, that put the emphasis back on the experience of the journey and allow us to be at one with the landscape. And instead of fixating on bucket lists and obsessing over Instagram photos, we are seeking to connect with the soul of a place through its history, people, food and language, giving rise to the influential slow travel movement. Black Tomato is an early innovator in this space, with its ‘Get Lost’ service which takes you to unknown, uncharted destinations and charges you with exploring your way through them.
When it comes to food and drink, we are rethinking strict and restrictive diets in favour of flexitarianism which emphasises plant-based foods, but with room to enjoy meat, dairy and eggs from time to time. A lifestyle choice driven by greater awareness of health and sustainability benefits, the appeal is that it focuses on what foods to include rather than what to exclude and is set to be a long-term trend which we believe will shape the future of the food industry.
Moving away from alcohol excess, drinking culture is also changing as concerns around health and wellbeing lead to more moderate consumption. Low and no alcohol beer, wine and spirits products have become a major force in the drinks industry, with brands such as Seedlip leading the revolution. In January 2020 BrewDog opened the world’s first permanent alcohol-free bar, demonstrating that the ‘sober curious’ are an audience that should not be overlooked.
Renewed interest in a more holistic approach to wellbeing has seen consumers invest time and money in niche products and services which target mental and emotional health to create a greater sense of balance.
Mental health awareness has grown significantly in recent years and people are now keen to embrace preventative care. The UK’s first mental health gym, heroTraining Club in Manchester, has embraced the opportunity with a new approach to fitness and wellbeing, providing mental and emotional health classes alongside exercise and physical activity. Appealing to stressed urbanites, Birch is a new lifestyle hotel concept which aims to nurture and balance. Positioned as ‘your escape from urban living’, it provides space ‘where you can release and reset for a day or night, work or weekend’, with the aspiration that guests leave in a better place than when they arrived.
We are also turning away from big pharma, making space for disruptive categories such as psychedelic health and psychodermatology to establish themselves. CBD products have rocketed into the mainstream as we seek accessible relief from the daily-pressures of our fast-paced lives and look to manage ailments as diverse as anxiety, depression, PTSD, insomnia, pain and inflammation on our own terms. The New York Times captures the mood perfectly by stating that “this all natural, non-psychotropic and widely available cousin of marijuana represents a cure for the 21st century itself.”
Beyond this, privacy is emerging as a new and important addition to the wellbeing landscape. IKEA’s 2019 Life at Home report states that 76% of people agree that privacy is an important part of wellbeing and describes it as “oxygen for the soul” that allows us to recharge, get to know ourselves and grow. Finding some me-time to disconnect from technology, work and social commitments, and reset, is a necessity in the battle against burnout.
To succeed in this new era of wellbeing, strategies will need to go far beyond vanity metrics, with brand communications and experiences reflecting the new kindness mindset.
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