Special report: Global Wellness Summit Trends Forecast 2021

By Sarah Camilleri


By Sarah Camilleri

29 January 2021

Always of great value to spa and wellness professionals worldwide, the newly released annual Global Wellness Summit Trends Forecast, shines a light on key developments predicted to shape the wellness business in future.

Undoubtedly, this year’s report reflects the rapid emergence of new pathways for delivering wellness as been expediated by the ongoing pandemic.

The latest trends guide is now available from the GWS

A broadening of how we perceive wellness is fuelling hope as demand grows within mainstream audiences. In fact, the GWI now cites the value of the global wellness economy as $4.5 trillion.

The challenge for spa and wellness businesses will be how to adapt to this new era and adopt new delivery methods and revenue streams for the future.

In part one of a new series dedicated to sharing the Global Wellness Summit Trends Forecast 2021, we bring you highlights of three key trends that made the cut this year…

If you would like to take a deeper dive, you can order the full report from GWI for just $85. Please click here.


Big media jumps into the wellness sphere

Wellness is now firmly in the sights of Hollywood and global media players. The sheer prevalence of new wellness programming formats is providing extraordinary engagement and audience growth.

Driving this trend is the rapid shift away from paid television to streamed media, together with lockdown restrictions that have pushed demand for digital wellness straight to homes and personal devices.

Early in the pandemic, Samsung launched Samsung Health (pictured above), providing 5,000 hours of free live and on-demand fitness and meditation classes. Also leading the charge, the global success of meditation app giants, Calm and Headspace, are morphing to another level with the development of mental wellness content for TV.

In 2020, TV streaming subscriptions such as Netflix and Amazon hit an all-time-high 218 million viewers while health and fitness app downloads jumped roughly 50% globally.

Surveys show that post-pandemic demand is set to continue as people prioritise at-home wellness and fitness, as well as streaming TV and music.

According to GWI’s research, 275 million people already subscribe to Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Music or YouTube, who are now “serving up more music-as medicine play lists and creating wellbeing content verticals to meet growing demand for Sleep, Calm and Concentration”.

High-quality, transformative wellness content is also set to skyrocket across all media to meet the demand for self-care soundscapes that induce ‘flow state’ and ‘peak performance’.

Endel was the 2020 Apple Watch App of the Year

The fascinating new field of ‘generative music’ is ripe for innovation and the power of sound will be applied in new ways to help transition mood states and performance.

Mubert, Lucid, Wavepaths, and Endel are namechecked as leaders in new field of generative wellness sound technologies. In fact, Berlin-based Endel celebrated being named Apple Watch’s “2020 App of the Year”, a wellness app which works to create a ‘unique-to-you, neuroscience-based soundscape’.


The Future of immune health: Stop boosting, start balancing

The World Health Organisation recently warned that “Covid-19, is potentially not the last deadly pandemic we face”, highlighting the need for immersive immunity programming.

The massive uptake of immunity-boosting products in 2020 will come under greater scrutiny as consumers looks for the real deal.

LA-based Everytable delivers healthy meals at low prices or free for challenged communities, all paid for by higher prices in wealthier ones

Fad diets and quick fix regimes are certainly on their way out is with sharper focus placed on metabolic and microbiome health, as well as medical-based personalised nutrition, backed by blood and microbiome analysis and genetic testing.

Managed ‘intermittent fasting’ programmes and ‘positive stress experiences’ are also on the rise. Focus on boosting sleep and circadian health will continue as well as packages designed to boost regular exercise and mindfulness for the Covid age.

The evidence-based therapeutic benefits of thermal bathing, hot-cold therapies, cryotherapy, forest bathing and wild swimming will see also see a renaissance, together with the mental and physical benefits of touch therapies.

Germany’s Buchinger Wilhelmi’s new Immunity+ program has fasting and microbiome health at its core

The GWS also predicts the evolution of Immunity Travel as future category in wellness travel. Leading the way, GWS namechecks leading European wellness destinations such as Germany’s Lanserhof and Buchinger Wilhelmi, as well as imaginative programming from Six Senses Resorts worldwide.


A move from ostentatious fads to architecture that touches our souls

“As a designer I have the ability to influence your gut and microbiome as well as creating moments that transcend you and take you to another place.

“Design can create bliss, beauty, love and gratitude,” says wellness architect Veronica Schreibeis Smith, CEO of Vera Iconica.

This trend highlights the growing appreciation of ‘soulful architecture’ that positively impacts on our mood states, performance and quality of life.

Spiritual elements incorporated into nature (Photo by John D Wood)

According to the GWS, “In recent years, cross-disciplinary studies have proliferated the industry with the science behind how the built environment impacts our wellbeing: hormone production, inflammation, gut and respiratory health, stress level, immunity to diseases and viruses, cognitive performance, social interactions and relationships and emotional wellbeing.”

Moments of introspection, presence, and soul searching at Therme Vals, Switzerland, by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Peter Zumpthor

The pandemic has unleashed renewed interest in how the spaces we live in can positively influence our health and wellbeing.

“Our homes will transform with refinements that add a spiritual dimension: Wellness kitchens will be designed in a way that preparing whole foods becomes a joyful and relaxing ritual, while bringing ease to personalised nutrition, thereby optimising health; bedrooms will become sleep sanctuaries more thoughtfully arranged to reflect the sacredness of winding down,” concludes Schreibeis Smith.

We would like to thank  The Global Wellness Summit for their help to produce this report. Coming soon… in Part 2 we will highlight three more trends.

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