What’s happening in Wellbeing – and what to do about it
As consumers lose their certainty about the volatile world around them, they’re focusing on those things they can control. Distrustful of big banks? There’s a FinTech app for that. Want to avoid the threat of redundancy? Join the rising tide of entrepreneurs.
Wellbeing epitomises the trend: consumers taking back responsibility for their health. As a result sales in the sector are skyrocketing. The Global Wellness Institute believes the industry is now worth over $4.2 trillion: up 13% in the last two years and 5% of all global economic output. Behavioural futurist Will Higham looks at new Wellbeing trends that offer opportunities across industries.
Get Woke to Sleep
Consumers – and employers – are waking up to the importance of sleep health. Pinterest searches for ‘Sleep Optimisation’ rose 116% last year. Sleep books have become best sellers. Every month brings new remedies: smart mattresses, headbands and goggles to herb-based drinks like golden milk or moon milk. There’s increasing interest too in the restorative power of sleep, as repair work to ward off chronic ailments. It’s part of a broader trend for recovery and self care: cherishing rather than pushing our bodies.
One commonly suggested sleep cure is the reduction of HEV: the blue light emitted by personal technology. With more studies suggesting links between mobiles and cancer, might it become the new UV? If so, there’ll be opportunities for anti-HEV beauty and health products. This is part of a growing consumer desire to fight the toxic effects of the ‘modern world’. The next battleground is the home. Concern that cleaning products are weakening our immune systems will drive sales of microbiome-friendly home cleaners. Environmental concerns will grow demand for indoor air quality monitors.
Our homes offer another health opportunity. Busy Britons are looking for ways to get healthy without leaving the house. Sales of home testing kits for everything from cholesterol to STIs are up. High-end home fitness product sales too are climbing. Peloton’s had such success with its indoor cycles, it launched a treadmill last year retailing at $4,000. Or how about a $1,500 interactive mirror that streams live fitness classes and personalises advice to your needs? The market’s growing for cheaper alternatives too. Pinterest searches for resistance band workouts were up 2000% last year.
Health To Go
We can’t stay home forever though. Spend on business travel is increasing, despite the rise of video conferencing. Travellers and employers alike are seeking ways to ensure healthy performance on arrival. Virtual assistants like 30 Seconds to Fly’s Claire, and expense-logging apps, can make jet setting jollier. Big data is helping hotel chains deliver hyper-personalised services: a hotel bed in Tokyo pre-adjusted to the angles you preferred in Chicago, to biometric bathroom tiles that report on guests’ health. Alternatives to the hotel bar are growing too: from wellness-focused co-working spaces like New York’s The Assemblage to WeWork’s new business gym Rise.
Disillusioned with fad regimes, more consumers are looking back to a ‘wiser’ age more ‘in tune’ with nature and physicality. There’s been a 269% increase in food products using the word “ancient” in the last five years. Ancient grains are gaining ground as a solution to gluten intolerance. Searches for crystal healing are up 40% in the last four years. And brands like Aveda and Elemis are offering gemstone-infused skincare products.
Recent fitness has focused on speed and intensity, and anti-stress workouts like GymBox’s Anger Management will help keep it popular. But we’re seeing a reaction. Less High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), more Low Intensity Steady State (LISS). Not a brief push to breaking point but a long period of low level exertion. This mellower style mirrors an interest in evening over morning workouts: potentially more effective and, cross-trend alert, they help you sleep better. Asics’ new running track in London takes a similarly mindful approach. Spotlights on each runner but otherwise pitch black, with no technology, music, scenery or finish line.
Superfoods like blueberries and other antioxidants are so last year. Tomorrow’s about hero brain-foods. Step forward the Avengers of food: the adaptogens. Some improve sleep (Ashwagandha) while others fight stress (astragalus) or combat aging (maca). Among them is marijuana-based CBD oil. Newly legal in the UK, it should hit the mainstream this year. It’ll power functional beverages designed, perhaps counter-intuitively, to improve focus.
Community and competition are growing health drivers. Fitness First has seen attendance up 40-50% on Friday nights. Right Path Fitness just launched a Date-ercise class. Community runs have seen record growth. Many are comparing times on Social: with local friends, or globally via tracker-based competitions like Reebok’s Crossfit Games. With smarter health trackers, how long before we compare BMI or blood pressure? Peer to peer health advice too is growing, with medical students allegedly the next big health influencers. Is fitness the new communal leisure? It could be. According to Mintel, just 12% of Britons visited a nightclub or bar in the last month, but 21% visited a gym.