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Health and wellness: 4 trends for our times

A recent reset is driven by four trends that impact how consumers think about and act on their health and wellness.

4 min read

Consumer InsightsFood

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We are at a unique crossroads in health and wellness, which the Hartman Group termed the Great Wellness Reset in our latest research on the topic, Health and Wellness 2023. This reset is driven by four trends that impact how consumers think about and act on their health and wellness.

First, let us consider the perennial trend of modern health and wellness culture emphasizing solutions that make tangible, meaningful contributions to quality of life. Consumers have long aspired to increase longevity, but wellness is now as much about living an enjoyable, well-balanced life as it is about physical fitness, and most consumers seek out health in service of feeling well, both today and in the distant future. This long-term shift in attitude is closely tied to the growing attention to mental health that pervades modern wellness culture.

Second, we are bearing witness to the evolution of a long-term trend, the backlash over the commercialization of health and wellness. Consumers report frustration with the commodification of health in many areas: the proliferation of false promises; diet-oriented, sugar-free or non-fat products that turn out to just be unhealthy in a different way; and efforts by companies to profit from consumers’ pain, illness or desperation. As a result, many consumers would like to opt out of the commercial wellness industry, but find it difficult or impossible to do so.

Third, consumers are centering their attention on fundamentals after the urgency felt during the pandemic. After three years with health and immunity as a top priority, consumers are refocusing on the basics — those aspects of health and wellness that are most important to them, most directly impact their overall well-being and quality of life, and that are most within their control. 

Fourth, inflationary pressures are encouraging the exploration of budget-friendly approaches in a trend we hope is short-term. The economic squeeze consumers feel can seem particularly acute with respect to health and wellness given this is often a high priority but can also require significant financial resources. Lower-income households are affected by inflation to a greater extent, often having to shift or forego wellness priorities in favor of more budget-friendly options. 

These four trends are expressed differently across consumer segments (Core, Mid-level, Periphery) in the World of Health & Wellness and they are expressed in a multitude of ways depending on a given consumer’s approach. Consumer approaches to health and wellness can be categorized across four themes: Consume, Treat, Act and Measure. Consume tactics include all things related to food and beverage. Treat tactics involve the use of supplements, prescription and OTC medications and medical care. Act refers to activities, whether pursued for enjoyment, movement or interaction. Finally, Measure tactics involve tracking of key health metrics, movement or food and beverage intake.  

For example, a Core health and wellness consumer is likely to approach the perennial trend of enhancing quality of life with an Act approach that includes mindfulness and meditation while a Periphery consumer engages with the same trend with an Act approach that emphasizes time spent with friends. Foods and beverages are obviously essential to Consume approaches, but food and beverage manufacturers, retailers and foodservice providers can insert themselves into Act approaches to increase their reach and relevancy in consumers’ health and wellness repertoires. Participation in Act approaches is almost universal as the Health and Wellness 2023 report illustrates 99% (NET) of consumers are engaged in Act activities, and consumers need and desire health and wellness products that have real impacts in areas that are most fundamental.

Trends evolve and have differing scopes and lifespans, consumer involvement in health and wellness varies along a continuum, and consumers express their involvement via a variety of approaches. Within this messiness are wonderful opportunities for companies to connect with consumers on their personal journeys during this Great Wellness Reset.    

As CEO of The Hartman Group, Laurie Demeritt drives the vision, strategy, operations and results-oriented culture for the company’s associates as The Hartman Group furthers its offerings of tactical thinking, consumer and market intelligence, cultural competency and innovative intellectual capital to a global marketplace.

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