Revealed: top 10 global spa and wellness trends for 2020

Circadian health, J-beauty and a well-washing crackdown are among the top 10 trends that will take the spa and wellness industry by storm this year, according to the Global Wellness Summit’s (GWS) latest report.  

The trends in “The Future of Wellness 2020” report is based on what the organisation believes will have the most meaningful impact on the $4.5 trillion global wellness industry.

The top 10 wellness trends for 2020 are:

1. Focus shifts from sleep to true circadian health

With the sleep economy valued at £432bn, the focus is now turning to the facts of circadian biology and improving circadian health optimisation to help clients improve their sleep/wake cycles. 

The bedrock of circadian science is that regular light/dark cycles (the bright, blue light of day and darkness of dusk) are the daily “time cues” needed to reset our circadian clocks every day.

Harvard’s Dr. Steven Lockley said in the report: “Circadian health optimisation – incorporating the type and timing of light – will soon become more important than ‘sleep.’ Solutions that realign our internal circadian clocks with each other, and our internal clocks with the outside world, will surge.” 

2. Ageing rebranded: positively cool

The 55-year-old plus market is now the fastest growing gym membership group and the one with the highest rate of frequent attendance. Plus, in countries such as the US and Japan, these “boomers” control the highest percentage of disposable income and spend more on online shopping than millennials.

However, this powerful demographic attracts only 10% of marketing budgets and less than 1% of global innovation, the report said. Industry analysts predict that more conglomerates will invest resources into the senior market, adding products and experiences that attest to boomers’ vibrancy.  

3. J-wellness

Experts predict J-wellness will be increasingly embraced as a holistic culture of wellbeing, from its innovations for our ageing world and breakthroughs in J-beauty, to a reverence for nature and meditative ritual as preventative healthcare. For example, Japan is the longevity nation, with more centenarians per capita than any country on Earth, reports GWS.

Japan is busy developing “age-tech”, including social robots that provide emotional and physical support for older people in our lonely world, as well as formulating high-nature and high-science approaches to beauty to deliver “skin so healthy it doesn’t need make-up”.  

4. Mental wellness and technology: rethinking the relationship

Awareness of the need to address mental health will continue to grow, spanning new categories such as climate change- and work-induced stress, which are now “commonplace”, says the report. 

As such, both the public and private sectors are looking to advance solutions at scale, with the biggest barriers to treatment still stigma, time, cost and availability. Affordable virtual therapy apps are on the rise, such as TalkSpace, which give patients the ability to chat with professional counsellors on their time schedule.

Meanwhile, other start-ups are even going so far as to gamify mental wellness, a trend which is seeing an uptake in younger generations. For example, app SuperBetter allows players to accrue points by persevering through stressful situations, completing breathing exercises and breaking bad habits. 

5. Energy medicine gets serious

Experts believe the future is coming together of the medical and wellness worlds to innovate new tools and technologies to optimise human energy fields to prevent illness and boost health, with frequency therapies such as electromagnetic, light and sound interventions becoming crucial. 

In medicine, electrifying new insights will keep coming around bioelectricity, the “organised lighting” that our cells use to grow and communicate. Meanwhile, more wellness destinations are expected to go “high energy”, serving up even more ancient energy medicines and cutting-edge energy technologies, blending the two. 

6. Organised religion jumps into wellness

With interest in health and fitness at an all-time high, organised religion is reimagining age-old rituals and formats, says the GWS report. It seems that some congregations no longer want to separate their physical and spiritual needs but instead, hope to fuse them together in novel new ways. 

This ranges from aerobic fitness classes to meditative retreats, all reworked with religious liturgy and biblical references. For example, there are now boutique fitness studios solely devoted to worship or which cater to religious constraints, plus there’s been a rise in Ramadan bootcamps, Jewish Sabbath service hikes, Christian wellness retreats, Catholic Pilates classes and Muslim fitness YouTube channels, says the report.

7. The wellness sabbatical 

The current holiday model of “work like mad and take a week vacation where you’re supposed to totally switch off” is becoming outdated, with more people not taking their annual leave. The reality: more people need a wellness break.

Industry pros believe that new travel concept “the wellness sabbatical” – where days of work and wellness are intentionally blended at destinations that creatively make this possible – will soar in popularity. 

On a wellness sabbatical, you’re set up to work a few productive hours each day but scheduled around a lot of wellness experiences, repeating this process for a minimum of three weeks – “the sweet spot to jumpstarting lasting lifestyle changes for a true mental reset”, says the report. 

8. The fertility boom

Advancements in fertility care are coming thick and fast – at a time when highly industrialised countries such as England, Japan and the US continue to see record-low fertility rates. There are multiple reasons at play for this, but the most dominant one is that women of childbearing age are delaying having children, found the report.  

The fertility landscape is changing, filled with apps, period trackers, platforms and wearables that work to help increase a person’s chances of conceiving. The report says that community support networks such as Peanut Trying to Conceive make it a less lonesome journey, while Tinder-like partner-matching app Just A Baby let’s one swipe through potential baby daddies.

9. Wellness music

Music as an “intentional therapy” is being radically reinvented by new technologies, says the report. Music’s structural properties, such as beat, key and chord progression, specifically impact the brain and biometrics such as heart rate and sleep patterns, so evidence-based music and soundscapes can be developed as precision medicine.

Music therapy’s potential is developing, with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarding $20m to fund a Sound Health Initiative to uncover music’s brain mechanisms and new applications to treat everything from PTSD to autism.

10. In wellness we trust: the science behind the industry

The report claims that wellness watchdogs will rise to try and re-establish some distinctions between legitimate wellness approaches and practitioners and charlatans who give wellness a bad name

GWS says more online call-out platforms, such as Instagram collective Estée Laundry, which goes after the false claims of influencers and brands in the beauty industry, and more vetting and certification sites such as UK-based WellSpoken, whose content tries to counter wellness pseudoscience and certifies brands, will come to the fore. 

These 10 trends have been formulated from the insights of 550 experts, including economists, doctors, academics and chief executives from 50 nations gathered at the 2019 summit. Read the full report now

Do you agree with these trends? Comment below. 

Plant-based eating is also predicted to take the wellness industry by storm this year.