Revealed: 9 global spa and wellness trends for 2021
Immuno-stabilisation, financial wellness, challenging over-tourism and encouraging more diversity in the sector are just some of the trends set to shake up the spa and wellness industry in 2021, according to the Global Wellness Summit’s (GWS) latest report.
The trends in GWS’s “The Future of Wellness 2021” report is based on what the organisation, and hundreds of top executives of wellness companies, economists, doctors, investors, academics and technologists, believe will have the most meaningful impact on the global wellness industry.
“Wellness today is at a watershed moment. The report reflects how wellness is poised to take a bigger seat at the health care table; predicts a future industry that will be more inclusive, accessible and affordable; how [the sector] will basically ‘get real’ and more evidence-based; and tackle tougher, more crucial human pain-points,” the report states.
Nine wellness trends predicted to be big in 2021 are:
1. The future of immune health: stop boosting, start balancing
The GWS states that immune health will be a big trend this year, but with approaches that lead to immuno-stabilisation and immuno-balance. The report states that we will see more evidence-backed approaches to immune health, with metabolic health, the microbiome, and personalised nutrition becoming crucial, along with more experimentation with everything from “positive stress” experiences to intermittent fasting for immune resilience.
It is also predicted that immunity programmes at travel destinations will go deeper and more medical, with interventions that matter more than “immune-boosting” menus and IV drips. “A wellness industry newly focused on the hard and fast-evolving immune science could extend and save many lives, and help its own reputation along the way,” says the report.
2. Spiritual and numinous moments in architecture
A new “wellness architecture” sector has taken off, heavily focused on functional design moves – whether that’s circadian lighting or air purification. In 2021, GWS predicts this will go further, with new attention paid to creating everyday spaces that can incite sacred and numinous moments, that elevate our consciousness and potential, and ground us in gravitas in the midst of a mindless, consumerist society.
“Architecture and design will move up Maslow’s Pyramid, from our recent era of look-at-me, visually ostentatious fads like luxury McMansions, to a new architecture reaching for the ‘self-actualisation’ tier – a built environment that can move our souls,” says the report.
3. Just breathe
An increasing number of clinical studies from major universities like Harvard, Stanford and Johns Hopkins are putting science and data behind something we’ve known for centuries – that the way we breathe has profound effects on our mental and physical health.
Practitioners are now bringing breathwork to ever-larger audiences and pushing it into new territories such as rehabilitation, fitness and community building, and relief from chronic stress, trauma and PTSD. Cool and clubby breathwork parties and festivals are rising, too.
4. The self-care renaissance: where wellness and healthcare converge
Healthcare and wellness will continue to converge in 2021. “Wellness is learning to lean into science, establish standards and hold itself accountable. At the same time, healthcare is beginning to borrow from the wellness playbook, transforming a once sterile and strictly curative industry into a more holistic, lifestyle-oriented and even pleasurable one,” says the report.
The report states that hospitals will start to take inspiration from five-star resorts, yoga studios might measure improved telomere length, and prescriptions may be coupled with hyper-personalised guides to optimal health. A kind of yin-yang approach where two seemingly opposing forces finally discover that they can, and must, work together.
5. Adding colour to wellness
While many businesses have voiced support for anti-racism, diversity and inclusion, GWS states in its report that “to generate substantive change, the wellness industry must recognise and address the false narrative that wellness is for affluent white people.”
The report discusses how the industry can add colour to wellness by valuing black consumers and wellness professionals, and describes the different ways that black people actually experience wellness offerings and spaces, highlighting racial inequalities.
It also provides insights into the future, illustrating how companies are changing the wellness narrative, and gives suggestions for how the industry can add colour to wellness.
6. Resetting events with wellness: you may never sit on a banquet chair again
Around mid-March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic brought in-person events to an abrupt halt, but there was a silver lining – a new trend that will changed meetings and events was born with wellness at the core.
New hybrid events (in-person and virtual gatherings) sprouted, with technology companies racing to be the platform for hosting them. The report looks at how this trend looked at top-of-mind topics like health, safety and immunity, and how these events employ new protocols and technologies that mitigate risk in engaging ways. In 2021, GWS believes how we gather will take on new and healthier meanings.
7. Money out loud: financial wellness is finding its voice
“A culture craving authenticity is breaking the money taboo, transforming finance from a hush-hush, one-size-fits-all, cut-and-dry industry to one that’s more human, empathetic, and, dare we say, fun,” states the report.
This growing openness is being driven by a much larger mental health awakening, and with research linking financial stress to anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, respiratory conditions and more, 2021 is the year that money is put under the microscope.
This growing financial wellness movement is moving money talk far beyond the bank, with financial therapists tackling the intersection between money and mental health. Plus, the three billion views of #personalfinance content on TikTok prove that finance influencers are officially a thing.
8. 2021: the year of the travel reset
The coronavirus pandemic acted as a near complete brake on travel in 2020 and this pause gave everyone the opportunity to think about rebooting travel for the better by correcting over-tourism – “becoming more conscious of where our money goes, and how to use the enormous power of tourism to sustain cultures and environments and, perhaps, even leave them better off,” says the report.
GWS believe that 2021 may be the year that all travel becomes wellness travel – of the travel reset, going slower, nearer and more mindfully. The trend explains the ways travel will be reset in 2021, including making it regenerative, challenging over-tourism, correcting under-tourism, tentative travel, embracing nature, and putting purpose first.
9. Hollywood and the entertainment industries jump into wellness
Wellness will become a bigger, more meaningful programming focus as big media digests the huge cultural force the sector has become, states GWS. The future is TV content and platforms that involve and impact you.
For example, smart TVs are creating wellness “channels” on their home screens, while Samsung launched Samsung Health – letting users binge 5,000 hours of free fitness and meditation classes from the buzziest brands. Meanwhile, mega meditation apps such as Calm and Headspace recently scored TV shows (on HBO Max and Netflix), translating their meditative experiences into immersive television.
The way that music is being created for stress, sleep, focus or for a better workout has also kicked into high gear. Meditation apps are becoming big wellness music “record labels”, and more apps are launching that are specifically focused on music for wellbeing. Generative music technology, where your biometrics meet neuroscientist-designed sound, will take sound as precision medicine to radical places. The future will be more collaborations between big media and the wellness world.
What do you make of these wellness trends? Comment below.