The Global Wellness Summit (GWS) released its annual “Future of Wellness” report, the longest-running, most in-depth (160-pages) and only truly global forecast of the newest directions in wellness.
The Global Wellness Summit (GWS) released its annual “Future of Wellness” report, the longest-running, most in-depth (160-pages) and only truly global forecast of the newest directions in wellness. The 12 wellness trends for 2023 were unveiled at a media event in New York City.
A few themes emerge:
Radically different consumer values. The trends show a profound shift in consumer values coming out of the pandemic: from a rejection of a “self-obsessed” wellness to a demand for science and solutions that work. If in this last decade-plus, wellness led with two lonely models—a sea of “self-care” products and “digital wellness”— the trend “Wellness Comes for the Loneliness Epidemic” details the many ways that the wellness world (and wider world) is finally tackling the biggest missing cornerstone in health: social wellness, with a surge in new spaces, community models and concepts that put human connection at the very center. With a critique of wellness as a relentless cultural appropriator, one trend details how wellness travel will shift from “global smorgasbord” to Indigenous wellness at the source. In “Workplace Wellness Finally Starts to Mean Something,” we see how fed-up employees, worsening mental health, and remote work mean “workplace wellness” is finally moving from false promise to meaningful plan of action.
Science is King. “From ‘Clean’ to Biotech Beauty” reveals how we’re moving beyond clean beauty’s often muddy claims to lab-tested, scientist-created “biotech beauty.” With so much misinformation about diets and metabolic health, one trend—written by a doctor—explores how transforming white fat into brown may be the obesity breakthrough.
A Return to Wellness Roots—With a Difference. Various trends illustrate how we’re returning to some of the deepest roots of wellness, but with a radical reimagining. If wellness has always been a sensory affair, new directions in multisensory integration are emerging with light, scent, temperature, touch and sound being blended to create a dramatically new era for “sensory wellness.” If water is the foundation of spa, the “Blue, Hot and Wild” trend predicts that we’ll now be “taking the waters” in deepest nature, with an unprecedented global surge in new-look hot springs destinations—and wild and cross-country swimming going global. After three years of “touchless wellness” people hunger for sensory immersion.
Wellness Impacts Serious New Sectors. Wellness has rewritten industries from fashion to real estate, and the report shows how it will now transform a couple of very serious, people-impacting sectors, including how a wellness lens is powerfully changing urban design and infrastructure; the opportunities hospitality brands see in embracing pro-level sports; and how wellness is becoming a much bigger focus of government policy.
Susie Ellis, GWS Chair and CEO said:
“Cast your mind back to 2019, the highwater mark of the hyper-consumerist, product-flooded wellness market, with so many evidence-challenged trends-a-minute. This report is proof that the wellness market of just three years ago suddenly feels archaic. Wellness in 2023 (and beyond) will be more serious and science-backed, but also more social and sensory.”
The report emerges from the insights of hundreds of global executives from wellness companies, economists, doctors, investors, academics and technologists that gather each year at the Summit. This year, in addition to having leading journalists and analysts as authors, the trend-spotters include top experts in that field—whether doctors, economists, or urban futurists.
Global Wellness Trends 2023 Summaries
- Wellness + Gathering: Wellness Comes for the Loneliness Epidemic by Beth McGroarty
We *know* loneliness is skyrocketing; that it kills; that the #1 predictor of health and happiness is relationships. But somehow, the recent uber-capitalist wellness market has led with two things: a sea of keep-them-spending “me time” products and “digital wellness”—both lonely journeys of “self-care.” The pandemic has proven to be the breaking point: the biggest wellness trend is new spaces and experiences that—intentionally and creatively—bring people together in real life, where social connection is the burning center of the concept. The future of wellness? A move from lonely to social self-care, from buying to belonging, from URL to IRL, from ego to empathy, from Goop to group. Read More
- Wellness + Travel: From Global Smorgasbord to Hyper-Indigenous by Elaine Glusac
Wellness and wellness tourism have long resembled Disney’s “It’s a Small World,” buffets of global experiences typically divorced from place. Yoga, born in India, is ubiquitous worldwide; ayahuasca retreats have departed their Amazonian homelands; you can get a Hawaiian Lomi Lomi massage in Dubai. But with a new critique of wellness as a profound cultural appropriator, a rising social justice movement, and greater emphasis on authenticity, travelers are now seeking much deeper cultural experiences and showing interest in going to the source of ancient healing and knowledge about how to care for the land and for themselves. Indigenous travel and going-to-the-cultural-source for wellness is our travel trend for 2023. Read More
- Wellness + Workplace: Workplace Wellness Finally Starts to Mean Something by Skyler Hubler and Cecelia Girr
From protected time off to finally acknowledging women’s health needs, employee wellness is getting a much-needed rethink. Employers have been casually tossing around the word “wellness” since the 1980s. But four decades later, we have little to show for it. Worldwide, 70% of knowledge workers have experienced burnout in the past year, and a recent global study found that 38% of workers hate their jobs so much that they wouldn’t wish it on their worst enemy. Clearly, all those “workplace wellness” initiatives haven’t been working for us. But with the pandemic dramatically accelerating shifts in work models and the mental health crisis—and employees newly empowered—things are changing for the better. In this trend, we explore how superficial wellness at work schemes are being replaced with more meaningful solutions. Read More
- Wellness + Beauty: From “Clean” to Biotech Beauty by Jessica Smith
As the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, one thing has become clear: science is king. In the world of beauty, the shift towards data-backed products has never been more evident. We’re seeing an about face from the conversation around “clean beauty” (with all its muddy claims) to a desire for lab-tested, science-backed and even lab-created products. In this trend, we look at the evolution from the greenwashing and false claims to today’s new—and welcomed—medical, bio-positive and tech-forward product development, and explore what the future might hold. Read More
- Wellness + Cities: Urban Infrastructure Just Might Save Cities by Robbie Hammond and Omar Toro-Vaca
The role of the city has been reimagined countless times over the centuries (they’ve been trading posts, political and artistic centers, and recently, concrete jungles of retail and offices). But the pandemic served as a wake-up call on just how unwell our cities are, sparking a new recognition of the inextricable relationship between the health of the cities and the health of city dwellers. Global cities are now at another historical inflection point where they are rebuilding themselves around the wellness needs of their citizens. “Urban wellness infrastructure” is no longer perceived as a luxury—it’s a necessity. This trend examines diverse, creative ways that an urban wellness infrastructure—the melding of capital improvements and business opportunities that holistically address social, mental, and physical health—is being embraced all around the world as a solution for accelerating growth, fueling post-pandemic recovery, and cultivating healthier, happier citizens. Read More
- Wellness + Weight: The Skinny on Brown Fat and Eliminating Obesity by Michael Roizen, MD
Harnessing the ability to live longer and “younger” is among the biggest trends in medicine and wellness today. Michael Roizen, MD, believes a crucial factor in the longevity quest is recognizing that not all fat is created equal, and transforming white/yellow fat into beige/brown fat has the potential to move the needle on one of the greatest health crises—obesity. The reason? Brown fat has increased mitochondrial density and burns lots of calories, while white fat is metabolically inefficient and doesn’t use much energy. Yes, moving white fat to brown powers weight loss, but obesity is a serious disease, a key factor in heart disease, cancers, dementia and more. Read More
- Wellness + Governments: The Case for Coming Together by Thierry Malleret
Wellness policies have been years in the making, but in 2023 and beyond, they will evolve, multiply and strengthen. Governments *know* the crippling economic and societal costs that come when people don’t feel mentally and physically well. They *know* that unwellness shrinks the labor force while simultaneously hurting productivity—the worst possible combo for long-term economic growth. They *know* that preventative wellness saves public money because it always costs less than cure. Read More
- Wellness + Water: Blue, Hot, and Wild by Jane Kitchen
The pandemic spurred a hunger for in-nature experiences that shows no signs of abating. But when we talk about the nature surge, we usually remain on terra firma. In 2023, people will jump into the world’s wild waters for some “blue wellness”—from an unprecedented global surge in new-look hot springs destinations to wild and cross-country swimming going global. Read More
- Wellness + Sports: New Business Models for Hospitality by Lisa Starr
Savvy hospitality brands are responding to demands from wellness-focused clients looking beyond the basement gym, in search of pro-athlete-level equipment, fitness classes and wellness programming, whenever and wherever they travel. Some hotel brands are even creating facilities that cater to entire amateur or professional sports teams, expanding the function of the hotel and ensuring professional quality for the rest of us. We predict businesses that support this trend will become the go-to brands for future generations. Read More
- Wellness + Senses: Multisensory Integration by Ari Peralta
Advances in neuroscience and neuroaesthetics confirm that, when combined, the senses elevate our human experience. Nature is multisensory and it turns out, so are we. The senses have always been present in wellness. In fact, we subconsciously associate many wellness activities with one sense or another… spa is touch, wellness music is sound, chromotherapy is color, healthy food is taste and thermal is temperature. This siloed approach is quickly changing in remarkable ways. Now brands are accessing multiple senses simultaneously to better support wellbeing outcomes, amplify wellness experience and influence behavioral change—think using multiple sensory cues, in a harmonious way to deepen meditation. Read More
- Wellness + Biohacking: The Wild, Wild West of Biohacking by Marc Cohen, MD
Biohacking is the attempt to control biology and defy disease, decay and death so we can become superhuman. The idea is not new: our ancestors were masterful biohackers and developed low-tech hacks such as fasting, isolation, chanting, yoga, martial arts, body temperature manipulations, and traditional medicines to increase their health and wellbeing. However, there is a new trend in biohacking featuring technology that is staggering. Super-technologies such as AI, brain-computer interfaces, sensorless-sensing, CRISPR, xenobotics, nanobotics, probiotics, morphoceuticals, 3D-tissue-printing, cloud-computing and blockchain technologies allow us to manipulate molecules, modify genes, manage microbes, create living robots, regenerate body parts, seamlessly monitor and track health metrics, and manipulate our sensory inputs. Read More
- Wellness + Faith: Having Faith in Business by Brian Grim
It’s not surprising that the pandemic led to a resurgence of faith. What is surprising is that the corporate world is embracing it. While diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in workplaces have focused on race, gender, sexual orientation and marginalized populations, one aspect that’s been strikingly left out of the conversation is now emerging: faith. As global workplaces become radically reshaped to address inclusivity, purpose and employee wellbeing, more companies are now tapping into the full identity of their employees by including religion as a full-fledged part of their DEI commitments—encouraging employees to form official (company-sponsored) groups around their faith, just as companies encourage women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ groups to do. Read More
About the Global Wellness Summit: The Global Wellness Summit is an organization that brings together leaders and visionaries to positively shape the future of the $4.4 trillion global wellness economy. In addition to an annual conference, held at a different location around the globe, GWS also hosts regular virtual gatherings, including Wellness Master Classes and collaborative Wellness Sector Spotlights. The organization’s annual Global Wellness Trends Report offers expert-based predictions on the future of wellness that are oft-quoted in the media. The 2023 GWS will be held in Qatar in November.