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Global Wellness Summit spotlights 12 trends as movements not just fleeting fads

Global Wellness Summit spotlights 12 trends as movements not just fleeting fads
November 23, 2023

The Global Wellness Summit has spotlighted 12 trends that are still evolving and considered to be movements rather than fleeting fads.

Watching the 2023 trends unfold in the media over the past six months, the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) has released an updated edition The Future of Wellness 2023 Trends: Mid-Year Update, including five illustrative news stories on each of the twelve trends. Year after year, this GWS report anticipates what’s next in wellness - predicting trends that become billion-dollar sectors.

Summaries of the 12 trends are presented below with a full report available to purchase. Each ‘Future of Wellness’ report goes in-depth on what’s propelling the shifts, the key players that are trailblazing it, and where this trend is headed in the long future.

1. WELLNESS + GATHERING
Wellness Comes for the Loneliness Epidemic by Beth McGroarty
The biggest wellness trend is the development of new spaces and experiences that bring people together in real life—creatively and with intention—where social connection is the burning centre of the concept.

We 'know' loneliness is skyrocketing, that it kills and that the #1 predictor of health and happiness is relationships. But somehow, the recent uber-capitalist wellness market has led with two things: a sea of keep-them-spending 'me time' products and 'digital wellness' - both lonely journeys of 'self-care'. The pandemic has proven to be the breaking point.

Social wellness clubs with different vibes and price-points will surge, where group bonding comes first and the (sometimes dizzying menus of) wellness experiences serve as social icebreakers. With remote work, people need everyday places to be and belong - and younger gens, who are ditching booze and bars, seek healthier social spaces. With human “communication” having devolved into emojis, the wellness world is now teaching us how to connect and empathize more deeply.

2. WELLNESS + TRAVEL
From Global Smorgasbord to Hyper-Indigenous by Elaine Glusac
Wellness and wellness tourism have long resembled Disney’s 'It’s a Small World': buffets of global experiences typically divorced from place. Yoga, born in India, is ubiquitous worldwide; ayahuasca retreats have departed their Amazonian homelands; you can get a Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage in Dubai.

But with a new critique of wellness as a profound cultural appropriator, a rising social justice movement, and greater emphasis on authenticity, travellers are now seeking much deeper cultural experiences and showing interest in going to the source of ancient healing and knowledge to learn how they care for the land and for themselves. Indigenous travel and going to the cultural source for wellness is our travel trend for 2023.

Community-led Indigenous travel offerings are surging - from the boreal forests of Canada to the Australian Outback - and speak deeply to travellers seeking inclusive, sustainable and regenerative travel experiences. The fast-mounting interest in original cultures includes Indigenous wellness practices, from purification ceremonies to food and nutrition.

3. WELLNESS + WORKPLACE
Workplace Wellness Finally Starts to Mean Something by Skyler Hubler & Cecelia Girr
From protected time off to finally acknowledging women’s health needs, employee wellness is getting a much-needed rethink. Employers have been casually tossing around the word 'wellness' since the 1980s. But four decades later, we have little to show for it. Worldwide, 70% of knowledge workers have experienced burnout in the past year, and a recent global study found that 38% of workers hate their jobs so much that they wouldn’t wish it on their worst enemy. Clearly, all those 'workplace wellness' initiatives haven’t been effective. But with the pandemic dramatically accelerating shifts in work models and the mental health crisis - and employees newly empowered - things are changing for the better.

This trend explores how superficial wellness at work schemes are being replaced with more meaningful solutions. Better balance is being achieved through movements such as extended, company-wide vacations and the 'right to disconnect' from emails after hours; employers making in-person time count with memorable offsites and gatherings at wellness resorts and social wellness clubs (meetings held in ice baths are officially a thing); and topics once stigmatised, like menopause and infertility, gaining the attention of the world’s biggest employers.

4. WELLNESS + BEAUTY
From 'Clean' to Biotech Beauty by Jessica Smith
As the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, one thing has become clear: science is king. In the world of beauty, the shift towards data-backed products has never been more evident. We’re seeing an about face from the conversation around 'clean beauty' (with all its muddy claims) to a desire for science-backed products.

This trend looks at the evolution from greenwashing and false claims to today’s new - and welcomed - medical, bio-positive and tech-forward product development and explore what the future might hold. We see a movement that is fuelled by beauty consumers who are demanding more: more education and transparency

5. WELLNESS + CITIES
Urban Infrastructure Just Might Save Cities by Robbie Hammond and Omar Toro-Vacay
The role of the city has been reimagined countless times over the centuries (they’ve been trading posts, political and artistic centres, and, recently, concrete jungles of retail and offices). But the pandemic served as a wake-up call for just how unwell our cities are - sparking a new recognition of the inextricable relationship between the health of the cities and the health of city dwellers. Global cities are now at another historical inflection point where they are rebuilding themselves around the wellness needs of their citizens. 'Urban wellness infrastructure' is no longer perceived as a luxury -it’s a necessity.

This trend examines diverse, creative ways that an urban wellness infrastructure - the melding of capital improvements and business opportunities that holistically address social, mental and physical health - is being embraced all around the world as a solution for accelerating growth, fueling post-pandemic recovery and cultivating healthier, happier citizens.

6. WELLNESS + WEIGHT
The Skinny on Brown Fat and Eliminating Obesity by Michael Roizen, MD
Harnessing the ability to live longer and “younger” is among the biggest trends in medicine and wellness today. Dr. Michael Roizen believes a crucial factor in the longevity quest is recognizing that not all fat is created equal, and transforming white/yellow fat into beige/brown fat has the potential to move the needle on one of the greatest health crises - obesity. The reason? Brown fat has increased mitochondrial density and burns lots of calories while white fat is metabolically inefficient and doesn’t use much energy. Yes, moving white fat to brown powers weight loss, but obesity is a serious disease that can be a key factor in heart disease, cancers, dementia and more.

This trend explores numerous studies and examples of how white cell/brown cell transformation could work, focusing on three areas: pluripotent cell transformation, cold therapy and drugs.

7. WELLNESS + GOVERNMENTS
The Case for Coming Together by Thierry Malleret
Wellness policies have been years in the making, but in 2023 and beyond, they will evolve, multiply and strengthen. Governments know the crippling economic and societal costs that come when people don’t feel mentally and physically well. They know that unwellness shrinks the labour force while simultaneously hurting productivity - the worst possible combo for long-term economic growth. They know that preventative wellness saves public money because it always costs less than cure.

Now more governments are moving from knowing to action, pursuing diversified policies aimed at, pursuing policies - aimed at improving physical, mental, work, environmental, and even financial wellbeing - from healthy eating campaigns to funding regenerative agriculture and biodiversity protection. Portugal (and other countries) has taken aim at disintegrating work-life balance with new 'right to disconnect' laws, banning employers from contacting workers after work hours. Japan launched a national project spanning a host of wellness objectives, with a focus on boosting the healthspan of its aging population. More than 85 countries have legislated against sugary beverages. The New York City’s mayor’s office just invested $44 million to train 200,000 doctors and nurses on how to use preventative 'lifestyle medicine'.'

8. WELLNESS + WATER
Blue, Hot and Wild by Jane Kitchen
The pandemic spurred a hunger for in-nature experiences that shows no signs of abating. But when we talk about the nature surge, we usually remain on terra firma. In 2023, people will jump into the world’s wild waters for some 'blue wellness' - with an unprecedented global surge in new-look hot springs destinations and wild and cross-country swimming going global.

At the steamy end of the temperature spectrum, hot springs are now poised to be the next big thing in wellness. There are an unprecedented number of new and in-the-pipeline global destinations and new life is being breathed into long-forgotten facilities - from Australia to the USA (where about 50 new projects are underway). A whole new social era in hot springs has arrived, where developers are combining live entertainment, watery wellness classes, restaurants and bars with traditional soaking. At Peninsula Hot Springs in the Australian state of Victoria, take in live bands from its hot springs amphitheaters and do some hot springs yoga; at Sky Lagoon in Reykjavik, you soak in the midnight sun while sipping prosecco from a swim-up bar; you’ll soon be able to watch a baseball game while soaking in hot springs at Hokkaidos’ ESCON Field. This is social, affordable wellness and it’s pulling in a younger, diverse crowd.

On the cold side of the trend, there is surging interest in wild, cold and cross-country swimming, once the domains of serious athletes. Wild swimming groups like the Bluetits Chill Swimmers offer inclusive group swims that foster connection, and more global resorts (the trend is moving beyond the UK) are offering guided wild swimming programs—whether the Hotel J in Sweden or New York’s Mohonk Mountain House. Cross-country swimming is starting to take off, epic adventures where hiking and wild swimming are combined. People are even building wild swimming ponds instead of the old concrete swimming pools.

9. WELLNESS + SPORTS
New Business Models for Hospitality by Lisa Starr
Savvy hospitality brands are responding to demands from wellness-focused clients looking beyond the basement gym, in search of pro-athlete-level equipment, fitness classes and wellness programming, whenever and wherever they travel. Some hotel brands are even creating facilities that cater to entire amateur or professional sports teams, expanding the function of the hotel and ensuring professional quality for the rest of us. We predict businesses that support this trend will become the go-to brands for future generations.

The ubiquity of the wellness-focused lifestyles of elite and professional athletes are fueling this trend and increasing demand for pro-level wellness at hotels and resorts. Social media and marketing campaigns make access to the wellness routines of celebrity athletes like Tom Brady and LeBron James widely available to the public - and feed our fascination with how these stars are able to do what they do. Hospitality brands like Kerzner International Holdings, owner of the Atlantis Resort and One&Only Resorts, are responding to the public preoccupation with sports with new concepts like the immersive global lifestyle brand SIRO, a “fitness and recovery hotel.” In addition, Zulal Wellness Resort by Chiva-Som in Qatar, the Middle East’s first full-immersion wellness resort, offers unique TAIM (traditional Arabic and Islamic medicine) treatments and hosted the German World Cup soccer team in 2022. The global sports market is predicted to hit $20 billion by 2027, and we’re going to see new, creative, profitable intersections between sports and wellness. Sports of all types are being seen as a strategy to attract and connect with wellness-oriented consumers—and this timely business trend shows no sign of stopping.

10. WELLNESS + SENSES
Multisensory Integration by Ari Peralta
Advances in neuroscience and neuroaesthetics confirm that, when combined, the senses elevate our human experience. Nature is multisensory and it turns out, so are we. The senses have always been present in wellness. In fact, we subconsciously associate many wellness activities with one sense or another… spa is touch, wellness music is sound, chromotherapy is colour, healthy food is taste and thermal is temperature. This siloed approach is quickly changing in remarkable ways.

Now brands are accessing multiple senses simultaneously to better support wellbeing outcomes, amplify wellness experience and influence behavioural change - think using multiple sensory cues in a harmonious way to deepen meditation. With a better grasp on evidence, wellness brands are using multisensory integration as an approach to deepen and amplify felt experiences. From wellness brands to spas to retailers, they are experimenting with playful combinations of light and sound, light and taste, etc., to build connection and more meaningful moments.

Some examples: In Saudi Arabia, the AIUIa Wellness Festival has curated a 360-degree multisensory event allowing visitors to stimulate and elevate all five senses amidst ancient and stunning surroundings; while Six Senses has teamed with mycoocoon to create synesthetic dining experiences, enabling guests to 'taste' colour and sound, while, in the metaverse, digital sense is becoming a reality, adding scent and touch to sight and sound.

11. WELLNESS + BIOHACKING
The Wild, Wild West of Biohacking by Marc Cohen, MD
Biohacking is the attempt to control biology and defy disease, decay and death so we can become superhuman. The idea is not new; our ancestors were masterful biohackers and developed low-tech hacks such as fasting, isolation, chanting, yoga, martial arts, body temperature manipulations and traditional medicines to increase their health and wellbeing. However, there is a new trend in biohacking featuring technology that is staggering. Super-technologies such as AI, brain-computer interfaces, sensorless-sensing, CRISPR, xenobotics, nanobotics, probiotics, morphoceuticals, 3D-tissue-printing, cloud-computing and blockchain technologies allow us to manipulate molecules, modify genes, manage microbes, create living robots, regenerate body parts, seamlessly monitor and track health metrics, and manipulate our sensory inputs.

12. WELLNESS + FAITH
Having Faith in Business by Brian Grim
It’s not surprising that the pandemic led to a resurgence of faith. What is surprising is that the corporate world is embracing it. While diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in workplaces have focused on race, gender, sexual orientation, and marginalised populations, one aspect that’s been strikingly left out of the conversation is now emerging: faith. As global workplaces become radically reshaped to address inclusivity, purpose and employee wellbeing, more companies are now tapping into the full identity of their employees by including religion as a full-fledged part of their DEI commitments - encouraging employees to form official (company-sponsored) groups around their faith, just as companies encourage women, people of colour and LGBTQ+ groups to do.

To purchase the full reports go to www.globalwellnesssummit.com/2023-global-wellness-trends

Image top: Morninton Peninsula Spa Credit: Visit Melbourne

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