At the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) this past Dec. 1-3, 2021, the Global Wellness Institute (GWI) officially released its research report "The Global Wellness Economy: Looking Beyond Covid," which revealed that the global wellness economy stands at $4.4 trillion despite pandemic disruptions, and it is forecasted to reach $7 trillion by 2025. The future of the wellness market is incredibly bright and predicted to grow 10% annually through 2025.
The GWI report shares market data on the overall wellness economy and each of its 11 sectors. Unsurprisingly, the wellness economy took a hit due to the pandemic, falling 11% from 2019 to 2020, but the pandemic also caused a major shift in values for consumers, governments and the medical world. The GWI believes that the market will return to pre-pandemic levels ($5 trillion) in the near future.
“This research update is crucial, because 2020 is the watershed year that will forever divide history–and the trajectory of the wellness economy–into ‘before’ and ‘after’ COVID-19,” said Ophelia Yeung, GWI senior research fellow. “When we analyze how different wellness markets performed in the last year, it’s natural to want to compare them and label winners and losers. But, there is no question that wellness—as a concept, as a lifestyle priority, and consumer value—is a big winner from the pandemic.”
These are measurements of the wellness economy from 2017 to 2020 (pre-pandemic and pandemic years). The numbers refer to the 2017, 2019 and 2020 market sizes, respectively.
- Personal Care & Beauty: $1 trillion (2017), $1.1 trillion (2019), $955 billion (2020)
- Healthy Eating, Nutrition & Weight Loss: $858 billion (2017), $912 billion (2019), $945.5 billion (2020)
- Physical Activity: $789.5 billion (2017), $874 billion (2019), $738 billion (2020)
- Wellness Tourism: $617 billion (2017), $720 billion (2019) $436 billion (2020)
- Mental Wellness: not applicable (2017), $122 billion (2019), $131 billion (2020)
- Spas: $94 billion (2017), $111 billion (2019), $68 billion (2020)
- Thermal/Mineral Springs: $56 billion (2017), $64 billion (2019), $39 billion (2020)
Together with the other sectors, these number bring the total to: $4.3 trillion (2017), $4.9 trillion (2019) and $4.4 trillion (2020).
The strong pre-pandemic growth shows that the momentum for wellness is evident. In 2020, physical activity, wellness tourism, spas and thermal/mineral springs saw the biggest pandemic declines; meanwhile, nutrition, weight loss, wellness real estate, mental wellness and public health/prevention/personalized medicine all showed growth.
Wellness Economy by Global Region
The GWI report also breaks down the wellness economy for each region.
Asia-Pacific was one of the fastest-growing markets from 2017 to 2019 (8.1% growth). This area also shrank the least at only -6.4% during the pandemic. In 2020, this region had the largest wellness market at $1.5 trillion.
North America had a growth rate of 8.4% from 2017 to 2019; this region was the fastest growing wellness region, but it also endured the hardest impact by the pandemic at -13.4%. Its wellness market was $1.3 trillion in 2020, and this region had the highest per capita spending at $3,567.
Europe had the third largest wellness market in 2020 with $1.1 trillion. It also had significantly higher per capita spending on wellness at $1,236.
These projections are for the years 2020-2025. The numbers provided refer to the 2020 market, 2025 market and average annual growth rate (AAGR).
- Wellness Tourism: $436 billion (2020), $1.1 trillion (2025), +21% (AAGR)
- Thermal Mineral Springs: $39 billion (2020), $90 billion (2025), +18% (AAGR)
- Spas: $69 billion (2020), $150.5 billion (2025), +17% (AAGR)
- Physical Activity: $738 billion (2020), $1.2 trillion (2025), +10.2% (AAGR)
- Mental Wellness: $131 billion (2020), $210 billion (2025), +9.8% (AAGR)
- Personal Care & Beauty: $995 billion (2020), $1.4 trillion (2025), +8% (AAGR)
- Healthy Eating, Nutrition & Weight Loss: $945.5 billion, $1.2 trillion, +5% (AAGR)
So, with the other sectors, the total wellness economy will be $7 trillion by 2025. GWI predicts that the wellness economy will grow a robust 60% from 2020-2025, with the markets that took the greatest hit in 2020 (wellness tourism, thermal/mineral springs, spas) expected to see the highest growth projections. Sectors that showed positive pandemic growth, including mental wellness, are forecasted to see ongoing market expansion.
“The wellness economy will grow to $7 trillion in 2025, because the forces that have been driving it remain as powerful as ever: an expanding global middle class, an aging population and rising chronic disease,” said Katherine Johnston, GWI senior research fellow. “But the pandemic has brought new shifts and a global ‘values reset’: ‘Wellness’ now means far more than a facial or spin class, with a growing focus on mental well-being and the importance of work-life balance, social justice, environmental sustainability, the built environment and public health. These drivers will underpin the recovery of the wellness economy; they will also shift consumer, policy and healthcare spending in new directions.”