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8 wellness trends to embrace in your business


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The development of postpartum wellness and a focus on social and emotional wellness for men are among the trends you can expect to see in the wellness world this year, according to a new report.


The global wellness market is expected to grow from $5.6 trillion (£4.4 tn) to $8.5 trillion (£6.7 tn) in 2027 according to the Global Wellness Summit (GWS), which today (January 30) released its annual Future of Wellness report. 


Generational, income and gender gaps are widening, and they’re creating a wellness landscape increasingly defined by very different – even contradictory – markets and mindsets.

The GWS calls these polarised wellness markets “hardcare” and “softcare.”


Hardcare describes the new hyper-medical, high-tech, even more expensive wellness market.


Meanwhile, softcare captures the desire for a low-pressure, simpler, less expensive form of wellness, where emotional and social wellbeing matter most.


The trends report illustrates how there isn’t one unifying trend; the future is both “harder” and “softer” care, and it predicts that the polarity will only widen.


Top wellness trends for 2024


1. Climate-adaptive wellness


As climate change concerns worsen, the report predicts that we’ll being seeing a wave of innovations that can cool our bodies, homes and cities.


Cooling approaches – from the cutting-edge to the ancient – will be the burning issue in architecture and design.


Expect to see more green space, tree cover and rooftop gardens; high-tech building materials and heat-reflective paint for roads and roofs; and heat-fighting design.


With summertime temperatures rising, more people are moving away from traditional holiday hotspots, trading beaches and for mountains, the Mediterranean for Scandinavia, and summer vacations for autumn or spring ones, in a move towards that’s being called “cool-cations”.


In the wellness space, there will be a renewed focus on hot/cold therapy’s role in the body’s thermoregulation and a rise in (cooler) “night-time wellness” programming at spas and resorts, from stargazing to full-moon yoga.


2. Wellness pilgrimage


One silver lining that came out of the pandemic is that people rediscovered the simple joys and health benefits that come from walking and a purposeful connection with nature.


Many walking enthusiasts are expanding their horizons by exploring ancient pilgrimage trails, fuelling a global trend as record numbers of travellers take up multi-day hikes infused with spiritual exploration and cultural heritage in countries around the world.


While nearly half a million pilgrims completed the Camino de Santiago in Spain in 2023 (a new record), scores of modern pilgrims were also drawn to off-the-beaten-path sites in Japan, such as the Shikoku 88 and the Michinoku Coastal trails, as well as buzzy pilgrimage destinations in Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India and Italy, all of which have undergone extensive restorations thanks to government efforts to promote holistic tourism.


From a wellness perspective, this trend has serious potential: it promotes slow, meditative travel, and facilitates a deeper engagement with our surroundings.


Savvy spas and resorts will be looking to pilgrimages, offering wellness programmes that incorporate journeys between sacred sites, participation in religious services such as meditating with monks or almsgiving, and providing access to ceremonies.

 

3. Wellness for men


Wellness has long provided a space for women to open up, explore their emotions, and build community, but the same can’t always be said for men.


Oftentimes, they’ve either been left out of the equation or the wellness offerings they’ve been served have reinforced a clichéd view of masculinity – from warrior-like fitness challenges to tough-guy biohacks.


The report claims that a cultural shift is underway.


As the consequences of rising male loneliness are exposed, the wellness industry is responding with a new wave of solutions designed to help men reconnect with themselves and with one another.


One example is the rise of men’s retreats like Evryman and Junto, where unlearning stoicism and authentically sharing your feelings is the name of the game; another example is the new mental health apps designed specifically by and for men.


This trend explores how these so-called “softer” forms of wellness will serve as a much-needed catalyst for male connection.

Looking further ahead, the GWS anticipates that social and emotional wellness offerings for men will become more nuanced, more evenly distributed across all stages of life, and more global.


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4. Postpartum wellness


While giving birth is a massive physical event, and new parenthood often entails serious mental health challenges, postpartum care for parents has often been ignored by healthcare systems.


Cultures around the world have postpartum retreat traditions (from Korea’s sanjujori to Latin America’s la cuarantena) that focus on deep rest, healthy food, baby-care education, massage and therapeutic bathing for the birthing parent.


With postpartum depression rates rising globally, governments and corporations are taking action, while new apps are addressing the mental health of new parents.


More femtech startups are dedicated to postpartum care across the spectrum—from C-section recovery services to a boom in pelvic floor care products and services.


The wellness consumer goods market has exploded with options, from postpartum skincare to supplements, while brands are also destigmatising sexual wellness post birth.


The GWS claims that true postpartum wellness would mean a dramatic change in the current post-birth experience, with access to an integrated medical and wellness team that could deliver a holistic, empathetic approach to support new parents' physical and emotional wellbeing, including education, proper nutrition, physical therapy and pain-focused therapies.


The report recommends that more spas and wellness spaces need to make what’s offered in the new, luxe postpartum retreats such as Boram Postnatal Retreat in New York City or Kai Singapore, which only a few can afford, available to all.


5. Health longevity


Longevity has become more of an industry pillar rather than a trend, driven by an ageing population seeking to stay healthier for longer – and its set to ramp up in 2024.


The report explored how the highly medical, high-tech longevity clinic is the fastest-growing business genre, with over 1,000 clinics worldwide.


Most offer advanced diagnostic testing (such as biomarker, genetic, hormonal, and full-body MRIs) to identify issues before they become a problem, such as Fountain Life (whose heartbeat is AI-powered diagnostics) or Human Longevity Inc. (with genomics testing at its core).


Others offer experimental, less-proven approaches such as stem cell treatments and plasma exchange – and the usual biohacking/recovery treatments (IV drips, cryotherapy, ozone therapy, etc.) – but now in the name of longevity.


More high-end gyms are becoming full-blown longevity clinics, offering workups (preventative diagnostic testing, scans, etc.) along with their workouts.


A growing number of wellness resorts are also becoming highly medical longevity destinations.


Powerhouse medical-longevity players such as Spain’s SHA Wellness and Switzerland’s Clinique La Prairie are on the march, the latter planning 40 new urban “longevity hubs.”


Six Senses is opening medical-longevity clubs (called Rosebar), with everything from epigenetic testing to stem cell therapy.


More wellness resorts, will embrace lo-fi longevity, offering retreats that get their guests connecting, cooking and moving like the people who live the longest in the world.


However, access remains an issue, with many of these clinics and resorts being on the pricier end of the scale.


6. Weight loss


The rise of weight loss drugs like Ozempic disrupted the traditional behaviour-change approaches to weight loss, making it less about psychology and more about biology.


The number of people taking them has skyrocketed, resulting in ongoing global shortages.


At least 70 new drugs are in development, with new, cheaper, very effective ones hitting the market this year.


This created a challenge for behaviour-change-focused businesses, including gyms and wellness resorts.


A big driver of the wellness market has always been weight loss, whether explicitly or implicitly.


With demand for the drugs rising, some wellness/health companies quickly pivoted to the (profitable) path of prescribing them, whether direct-to-consumer telemedicine brands or weight loss platforms.


There is plenty of debate around the drugs and the companies making these moves.


Supporters argue they could end the global obesity epidemic and save millions of lives; critics question their long-term health impacts, how they reinforce discriminatory ideals that “thin equals healthy,” and that, while they’re super-effective, they cannot deliver holistic health: exercise, healthy food, mental wellness, are still needed.


In 2024, the GWS predicts the wellness world will start to explore how it could provide more honest, fully integrative, whole-health weight loss approaches.


This could span everything from nutrition coaching to fitness to mental health services to advanced metabolic health analysis, while also creating specific “wellness companion” programmes for the drug-takers.


The future: evidence-based methods that could help get people off these “forever” drugs and that specifically improve their health while on them.


Image from Shutterstock

 7. Sports wellness


More people are embracing social sports, and more people want to train like near-elite athletes.


At the same time, professional athletes, constantly traveling to compete, have been lacking in hospitality destinations that deliver wellness, recovery treatments and state-of-the-art gym equipment.


That’s now changing. Hospitality destinations are answering the call with everything from pro trainers to pro-level facilities, with the global sports hospitality market last valued at $4.75 billion.


More high-end wellness destinations are catering to recreational athletes who are serious about their sport, letting guests train and learn from sports stars.


Body Holiday in St. Lucia now features nine sports-themed months, led by pro athletes like NFL star Randy Moss and Olympians like Daley Thompson, Alix Klineman and Angie Akers, to let people up their running, swimming, and crewing game.


In 2024, Aman Resorts is unveiling fitness, performance and recovery retreats led by five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova.


New hospitality brands are squarely aimed at elite athletes, offering wellness, fitness and recovery programming.


Equinox Hotels is planning 33 properties and will next open in Saudi Arabia’s extraordinary Amaala wellness destination, with a pro-level gym, personal trainers, brain-stimulating tech to boost performance, and the full recovery menu, from cryo chambers to on-demand IV drips.


Siro, a fitness and recovery hotel concept, will open its first property SIRO One Za’abeel in Dubai in February, optimises everything from rooms to food for athletes of all levels, but is especially aimed at pros – from its vast gym designed by Olympic athletes to its Recovery Lab.


The report also says that hospitality groups are also thinking beyond training like an athlete and are actually organising competitive play: swimmers, runners and tennis players want to compete with people at their level.


8. Multisensory art


As newly tech-enabled artists – powered by innovations such as generative AI, projection mapping and spatial sound technologies – bring their craft to the mainstream, we’re entering an era of multisensory, immersive art.


Museums, hotels and spas are incorporating more multisensory art experiences into their offerings and, in doing so, are prioritising wellness as an integrated offering.


At the Termemilano spa in Milan, Italy, a video skyscape of stormy skies surrounds a hydro pool, creating a moody vibe.


Six Senses resorts are creating multisensory somatic experiences, like bio-alchemy sculptures infused with scents, flotation experiences suffused with ocean sounds, and geodesic domes with vibroacoustic floors.


The report suggests that in the future, as adoption of wearable technologies becomes widespread, generative artworks will become even more hyper-personalised, participatory and therapeutically effective.


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