The Global Wellness Summit (GWS) has unveiled its annual Future of Wellness report, an in-depth forecast of the big trends that will shape wellness in the year ahead.
The report argues that significant shifts are underway in the wellness market. Generational, income and gender gaps are creating a wellness space increasingly defined by very different–even contradictory–markets and mindsets. GWS also predicts that these differences will only widen over time.
1. Climate-Adaptive Wellness
With an increasingly heat-crushed planet, we will see a new “climate-adaptive wellness:" a wave of innovations that can cool our bodies, homes and cities. This trend takes place mainly in terms of design and travel.
GWS anticipates more green spaces, tree cover and rooftop gardens; high-tech building materials and heat-reflective paint; and heat-fighting design. In addition, travelers will opt for trips to cooler areas like the mountains or Scandinavia, and trade summer vacations for fall or spring ones, aka “cool-cations.”
Wellness programming will shift to night-time wellness, such as star-gazing or full-moon yoga.
2. The Power of the Pilgrimage
New generations are looking to experience ancient, slow and spiritual travel. This will look like multi-day hikes infused with spiritual exploration in countries around the world with rich cultural heritage.
Savvy resorts are looking to pilgrimages, offering wellness programs that incorporate journeys to sacred sites, participation in religious services such as meditating with monks, and providing access to ancient ceremonies.
3. From Manning Up to Opening Up
A rise in social and emotional wellness offerings will allow men to connect with themselves and each other–from dedicated retreats to apps. This is a result of shifting gender roles, a societal revolt against old-school masculinity and an awareness of the rise of male lonlieness.
4. The Rise of Postpartum Wellness
Following childbirth, which can bring significant physical and mental issues, new parents are looking for more comprehensive postpartum care. Inspired by cultures around the world, postpartum traditions for mom and baby can focus on deep rest, healthy food, baby-care education, massage and therapeutic bathing for the birthing parent.
Further, various femtech startups are dedicated to postpartum care from C-section recovery to pelvic floor care. On the consumer side, there are more and more options available, including postpartum skin care, supplements and sexual wellness products.
5. Longevity Has Longevity
Longevity has officially taken over biotech, health and wellness spaces, becoming an industry pillar impacting everything from travel to tech to fitness in 2024. The trend is primarily driven by an aging population seeking a longer healthspan combined with a medical establishment that's not as focused on prevention.
Key research is happening in a number of areas, including personalized plans grounded in genetic, epigenetic and biomarker testing; nutrigenomics; and AI/GPT-driven health care. In the wellness industry, the medical, high-tech and expensive longevity clinic is the fastest-growing business genre. These businesses typically provide offerings like advanced diagnostic testing, stem cell treatments and plasma exchange, and other biohacking/recovery treatments like IV drips, cryotherapy, ozone therapy, etc.
6. A Wellness Check for Weight Loss Drugs
Drugs like Ozempic upended traditional behavior-change weight loss businesses, many of which pivoted to prescribing this and others. GWS suggests that the wellness world will create "wellness companion" programs for those on the drug, as an add-on to their integrative, whole-health weight loss approaches. The goal is ultimately for wellness businesses to use evidence-based methods to help people stop these “forever” drugs and improve their health at the same time.
7. Sports Finds Its Footing in Hospitality
As more people embrace social fitness train like athletes, there is more demand for hospitality destinations that support their well-being and training. Destinations are rising to the challenge with everything from pro trainers to state-of-the-art facilities.
Many high-end wellness resots are catering to recreational athletes who are serious about their sport, offering pro-level gyms, personal trainers, brain-stimulating tech to boost performance, full recovery menus and more, making "sports tourism" a growing sector in wellness travel.
8. The Home as High-Tech-Health-Hub
Wellness-focused homes have long been popular; today, GWS reports that homes and even cities are becoming high-tech, multifaceted health hubs with medical-grade home health monitoring systems, smart furnishings that adjustto individual well-being needs and more.
9. A New Multisensory, Immersive Art for Wellness
The new wave of experiences at museums, resorts and public spaces is powered by tech, like generative AI and spatial sound, to turn art into multisensory, immersive experiences designed to boost mental well-being. At high-end resorts multisensory somatic experiences may look like bio-alchemy sculptures infused with scents, flotation experiences suffused with ocean sounds, or geodesic domes with vibroacoustic flooring.
10. Under the Radar
GWS chair and CEO, Susie Ellis, lists some “under the radar” trends coming out of the Summit:
- Further destigmatizing mental health issues and creating new solutions, given the skyrocketing global rates of mental unwellness. One suggestion: Lower age limits at wellness centers and spas, so teens can benefit from evidence-based healing treatments.
- “Slow looking,” in which looking at an art piece for 15 minutes (rather than a few seconds) results in eye-opening impact on the brain.
- Governments embracing more innovative wellness policies, with more governments moving beyond money-focused in favor of quality-of-life metrics.
- “Blue Zones 2.0,” where communities actively engineer environments in which it feels “natural” to make healthy choices.