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Global Wellness Summit predicts 2024’s top 10 wellness trends

The Global Wellness Summit has unveiled its take on the biggest trends that will shape wellness in the year ahead
The 10 trends are published in the organisation's new 120-page Future of Wellness report
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 "hardcore" and "softcare"
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In the 20-plus years this trends team has been analysing the wellness space, there have been more shake-ups in 2023 than in the last decade
Credit: GWS

The Global Wellness Summit (GWS) has released its annual Future of Wellness report, forecasting what will make waves in the diverse world of wellness in the year ahead.

Predictions in the 120-page report range from climate-adaptive wellness – offering new ways for us to cool our communities and homes as climate change takes hold – to the transformative effects of tech-supported art in the wellness space.

“In the 20-plus years this trends team has been analysing the wellness space, there have been more shake-ups in 2023 than in the last decade,” said Beth McGroarty, GWS VP of research and forecasting.

“We feel that generational, income (and gender) gaps are creating a wellness space increasingly defined by very different – perhaps even contradictory – markets and mindsets.”

The team calls the first market/mindset “hardcare,” referring to the newly hyper-medical, high-tech and more expensive market. Conversely, the second market is referred to as “softcare,” reflecting new demands for a low-pressure, simpler, less expensive form of wellness – where emotional and social wellbeing matter most.

“In the future, we predict the polarities in the wellness market will only widen,” said McGroarty.

The report forecasts that in 2024 wellness will tackle serious crises, from climate threats to women’s health and that innovation surrounding wellness technology is set to accelerate even faster.

Ten wellness trends for 2024

1. Climate-Adaptive Wellness

With an increasingly heat-crushed planet, the GWS predicts we’ll see a new “climate-adaptive wellness”: a wave of innovations that can cool our bodies, homes and cities.

The team foresees this as having a wide-reaching impact across architecture and design, spa, fashion, wearables, beauty and even wellness travel.

2. The Power of the Pilgrimage A record number of new and revitalised pilgrimage trails worldwide are luring new generations to experience the most ancient, slow and spiritual form of travel.

Savvy resorts are now 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 once attainable only after years of experience on the path to enlightenment.

3. From Manning Up to Opening Up

Wellness has long provided a space for women to open up, explore their emotions and build community, but the same can’t be said for men. The GWS says a cultural shift is finally underway: a rise in social and emotional wellness offerings for men to help them connect with themselves and each other–from dedicated retreats to apps.

In this trend, the GWS explores how these “softer” forms of wellness will serve as a much-needed catalyst for male connection. Looking further ahead, it anticipates that social and emotional wellness offerings for men will become more nuanced, more evenly distributed across all stages of life and more global.

4. The Rise of Postpartum Wellness Following childbirth (which can bring significant physical and mental issues), new parents typically find themselves in a care “desert.” Luckily, the GWS says a new era of more comprehensive postpartum care is here – and it’s taking many directions.

With postpartum depression rates rising globally, governments and corporations are taking action, while new apps are addressing the mental health of new parents (such as Mavida Health, offering a whole slate of therapy and counselling).

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

5. Longevity Has Longevity

The GWS says the speed at which longevity has seized the biotech, health and wellness spaces this last year is astounding. Branded as a new industry pillar, the obsession with longevity and healthspan will continue to impact everything – from travel to tech to fitness – in 2024.

For example, more high-end gyms (such as Saint Haven in Melbourne) are becoming full-blown longevity clinics, offering work-ups (preventative diagnostic testing, scans, etc.) along with their workouts. If wellness resorts have been more about “soul” than scans and stem cells, now a growing number are becoming highly medical longevity destinations.

6. A Wellness Check for Weight Loss DrugsThe wellness industry was shaken up with the arrival of Big Pharma’s new, extremely effective GLP-1-inhibiting weight-loss drugs, the Ozempics and Mounjaros. They upended traditional behaviour-change approaches to weight loss, recasting weight loss as a matter of biology rather than psychology and “willpower.”

Going ahead, the GWS predicts the wellness world will provide more integrative, whole-health weight loss approaches while creating “wellness companion” programmes for drug-takers. The future: evidence-based methods that could help get people off these drugs and that specifically improve their health while on them.

7. Sports Finds Its Footing in Hospitality

After decades of fitness meaning lonely solo sessions at the gym, more people are embracing social, empowering sports – and more also want to train like near-elite athletes. Elite athletes also want hospitality destinations that completely support their wellbeing and training. Hospitality destinations are finally answering the “sports” call with everything from pro trainers to pro-level facilities.

8. The Home as High-Tech-Health-HubWellness-focused homes have been a megatrend for years, with a big focus on amenities like meditation rooms and cold plunge pools.

Now homes, and even cities, are becoming highest-tech, multifaceted health hubs. The shift is unprecedented, involving everything from the rise of medical-grade home health-monitoring systems to smart furnishings that adjust in real time to individual wellbeing needs. In a post-pandemic era marked by increased time spent at home, health-at-home is taking bold new directions.

9. A New Multisensory, Immersive Art for Wellness

If experiencing art has always been a passive experience, a new wave of experiences at museums, resorts and public spaces – powered by tech like generative AI and spatial sound – are turning art into a deeply multisensory, immersive experience, expressly designed to boost your mental wellbeing.

Museums, hotels and spas are incorporating more and more multisensory art experiences into their offerings and, in doing so, are prioritising wellness as an integrated offering. Multisensory, immersive art is also becoming incredibly widespread in public places.

In the future, as the adoption of wearable technologies becomes widespread, generative artworks will become even more hyper-personalised, participatory and therapeutically effective, says the GWS.  Adaptive art will continue to take hold and push the boundaries of what sensory immersion and art-as-wellness can mean.

10. Under the RadarGWS chair and CEO, Susie Ellis, explores some “under the radar” trends coming out of the recent GWS in Miami.

One key theme was for the wellness world to work harder at destigmatising mental health issues and at creating new solutions, given the skyrocketing global rates of mental unwellness. Legendary gymnast Simone Biles’ keynote framed this huge issue.

The need for more mental wellness solutions percolated across the GWS. Amy McDonald, CEO of Under a Tree Consultancy, argued that with teens worldwide struggling with mental health, we must lower age limits at wellness centres and spas, so they can benefit from evidence-based healing treatments, and properties like Qatar’s Zulal Wellness Resort have already risen to the occasion.

Another mega theme: governments embracing more innovative, powerful wellness policies. “Un-GDP” was discussed, with more governments moving beyond money-focused – in favour of quality-of-life – metrics to gauge national wellbeing.

Keynote speaker Sophie Howe, the first future generations commissioner for Wales, explained the crucial role policy must play in protecting the lives and health of those who will be born 50 years from now.

For more details and insights, check out the full Future of Wellness report here.

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The Global Wellness Summit (GWS) has released its annual Future of Wellness report, forecasting what will make waves in the diverse world of wellness in the year ahead.
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