Key health and wellness trends observed in 2021

This article is brought to you by Kadence International.

The global health and wellness industry is booming. Already a top priority for many consumers pre-COVID, health and wellness has come into even sharper focus as a result of the pandemic. Research from McKinsey estimates the global wellness market is worth $1.5 trillion and is growing fast – at a rate of 5%-10% per year.

But what are the big health and wellness trends that are becoming apparent for 2021, which brands need to watch out for, as 2022 becomes clearer in the marketing horizon? We have observed four key trends.

  1. My health on my terms. Advances in tracking and testing are facilitating personalised health and nutrition recommendations on demand.
  2. Mental fitness. Consumers will take a more proactive and preventative approach to mental health.
  3. The science of sleep. The global sleep economy shows no signs of slowing down, but innovation in the category will be driven by a new focus on circadian health.
  4. Function at the fore. No longer limited to just physical health, brands are focusing on products to better the body and the mind.

My health on my terms

One of the most significant developments in health and wellness has been the rapid advances in tracking and testing, which are facilitating personalised health and wellness recommendations on demand.  

Wearables are becoming even more sophisticated. The models on the market now allow consumers to track more granular metrics than ever before, with Mind Body Green hailing this a new era of “micro-tracking”.

Not only are wearables collecting a wider range of data, they’re using this to better empower their users. Oura, for instance, the world’s first wearable ring, provides a “readiness score” to help users understand when they are at their best – both mentally and physically – as well as when they should focus on recovery.

Similar developments are happening in the world of testing, with companies allowing users to complete a series of tests at home, and then personalise their recommendations based on this. In the past, in-home testing has been a barrier to personalised health and nutrition, but now with greater familiarity with the concept as a result of the pandemic, it could open the door to new services which combine tracking with testing to create hyper-personalised recommendations at speed.

Mental fitness

Mental health has become an increasingly important part of the conversation when it comes to health and wellness. This has come into even sharper focus as a result of the pandemic.

The impact of the virus and the resulting lockdowns have seen anxiety and depression skyrocket and, in line with this, mental health has become a key focus. In China, for instance, 87% of consumers are focused on taking care of their mental health, according to research by PWC conducted after the onset of the pandemic.

Research we conducted to determine which of the behaviours adopted during the pandemic will persist in the long-term found that undertaking activities to support mental health is one of the areas with greatest sticking power.

Businesses are also increasingly prioritising mental health. Recent research we conducted in partnership with Bloomberg found that 66% of companies are engaging an external vendor to provide healthcare/wellbeing training for their employees and half are looking to support employees with mental health and stress management.

The science of sleep

Sleep is big business, with the industry set to be worth a massive $585 billion by 2024 according to Statista. The impact of the pandemic is fuelling growth in this sector with consumers placing an increasing emphasis on quality sleep against a backdrop of anxiety and stress.

This is leading to a more scientific approach to sleep. The Global Wellness Summit predicts that a new focus on circadian health will shape the products and services we see in the category. Circadian health relates to aligning behaviours with our natural circadian rhythms – 24-hour cycles such as the sleep-wake cycle, which are influenced by external factors like natural light and temperature.

Shifting the way we think about sleep to place a greater emphasis on circadian rhythms could have broader implications when it comes to other behaviours, for instance, disconnecting from devices before bed, or the way we care for our skin, making this an interesting space to watch.

Function at the fore

The fourth and final big trend we see is a growing interest in functional food and beverages that support better physical and mental health. The most evident application of this is in the field of immunity boosting food and drink.

According to re­search from Innova Market Insights, 60% of consumers globally are seeking out food and beverage products that support immune health. Increasingly, we’re seeing innovation extending beyond this to food and beverage products that support the mind. 

For brands looking to tap into this trend, this is a relatively nascent category so there’s real potential here, as well as for cross-over products to improve both physical and mental health.