From green juices to spinning classes, health and wellness continues to be a growing trend category for businesses and consumers.
In 2014, this global megatrend popped up again and again on projects we did with retailers, NGOs and industry bodies. While health has long been important, the focus on personal wellness – outside of a hospital setting – is relatively new, and growing. The trend encompasses several sub-trends including diet, exercise and meditation. The field is becoming more sophisticated and diversified. Overall, companies and brands found themselves responding to consumer desires to “feel better in their bodies”.
Here are my five cross-cutting wellness trends to watch in 2015.
Thriving microbiome: More people are now aware of the importance of human micro flora and fauna. There is an increased interest in probiotics and other products that will improve physical and mental health from within the body. Additionally, greater attention is being paid to good bacteria on the skin that is harmed by anti-bacterial products. Health advocates advise eating fermented foods to help the growth of good bacteria and to limit use of antibiotics and anti-bacterials to when they are truly needed. As this trend grows, we may see more products targeting bacteria growth and digestive health.
Growth of nontoxic: Consumers are demanding more transparency around the products they buy. One of the areas in which this is most relevant is the beauty and personal care segment. Non-toxic now encompasses a range of items and consumers are much more aware of "negative" or perceived harmful chemicals and additives in products. Consumer groups are advocating for better labelling on cosmetics and household chemicals and seeking out trusted brands.
Down with sugar: Health advocates are recommending that people cut out white, refined sugar from their diet. Some are replacing sugar with alternative sweeteners, both chemical (Splenda) and natural (honey, stevia, maple syrup, agave nectar). Sugar labelling is also becoming more common, especially on beverages. 2014 was another year in which soda sales declined in the US and consumers chose low-sugar options, such as coconut water and tea instead. Many popular diets, such as paleo, further advocate against consuming refined sugars in any form.
Fitness lifestyles: Fitness is no longer an occasional activity, it is now a lifestyle. Fitness classes and types of exercise routines help shape consumers’ fitness identities. Fitness brands, such as Zumba and Soulcycle, that provide consumers with fun, everyday workouts, are growing. Additionally, fitness communities, such as those around yoga or running, have their own local groups, magazines, stores, and more. Parallel to this is the growth in fitness fashion as many luxury designers enter the athletic apparel space. Athletic apparel is now designed to be worn all day long, and fitness is more an integrated part of daily life.
Animal substitutes: Faux meat now tastes more like real meat than ever before. The technology to create faux meat has improved significantly and plant-based egg substitutes are gaining in popularity. A range of alternative “milks”, including soy, almond, coconut and hemp, are growing in popularity. Animal substitutes are seen by consumers as healthy, low-impact, and in some cases, cheaper than traditional animal products.
Alisha Bhagat works on the Futures team in Forum for the Future's New York office.