New Study: Health & Wellness 2023
The Hartman Group’s series of Health & Wellness syndicated studies is the longest running consumer-centric study of the U.S. wellness marketplace. Health & Wellness 2023 provides current, in depth insights into underlying motivations and behaviors for how and why consumers live, shop, and use brands, products, and services in the health and wellness space. Building on our 2021 analysis, the study will examine the American marketplace for well-being as the country has moved from the pandemic to the endemic phase of living with COVID-19.
The Hartman Group’s Health and Wellness research series has tracked consumer attitudes, beliefs and behaviors in the wellness space for over two decades. Our most recent Health & Wellness report, released in 2021 (Health & Wellness: Reimagining Well-being Amid COVID-19), found that it took a pandemic to upend life as we know it, prompting Americans to rethink their notions around health and wellness aspirations and behaviors.
At the time of that report, our understanding of what it means to be healthy and well had always been evolving as new scientific facts and societal orientation emerged, but COVID-19 brought about unprecedented challenges on multiple fronts, shifting consumer perceptions, concerns, and routines. One key finding at that time was that a full 38% of consumers said they had experienced changing views about health and wellness in the past year.
Other big insights from the 2021 Health & Wellness report:
The Broader Shift Toward Holistic Health Continued with Immunity in the Spotlight: The focus in 2021 on immunity was not surprising given that holistic health and wellness ideals are rooted in resilience—both body and mind. In 2021, the semantic landscape of health and wellness remained fairly consistent, with meanings anchored in being physically fit (51%), having strong immunity/ability to recover (51%), leading a balanced lifestyle (51%), not being ill (46%), and being able to deal with stress (46%). At that time, even as the U.S. government ramped up measures to combat COVID-19, emerging virus variants, evolving public health measures, and vaccination progress were areas of uncertainty and sources of stress for consumers—keeping immunity at the fore.
COVID-19 Altered Needs and Notions Around Diet and Nutrition:
Shifting needs: In 2021 we saw consumers experiencing shifting needs and optimizing for a “new norm.” Many consumers reported their degree and pattern of physical activity had changed notably. Some of this change meant consumers didn’t need the same caloric intake—yet developing and sustaining new routines required energy, too. Choices around nutrition and energy support were being considered through this new lens. Compared with one year prior, 49% of consumers said the amount of exercise they did had changed.
Shifting habits: preparing food at home. In 2021, cooking at home gave some consumers a new degree of control and choice when it came to “eating clean.” Home-cooked meals tend to have a health halo, but some consumers noted portion control as a challenge that undermined health benefits. Among all consumers, 37% had started or increased cooking in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shifting contexts: home pantries always at hand. In 2021, some consumers were home most of the day with pandemic-stocked pantries. In addition, the commutes and scheduled breaks that once marked the day had gone by the wayside for some. With fewer barriers to eating at any time, consumers felt a need to be more mindful eaters. Among those who said their health worsened in the past year, 23% said constant access to their pantry made it harder to stay healthy.
What’s Next in Health & Wellness?
Health & Wellness 2023 builds on and updates our 2021 study which found that fears of COVID-19 as well as psychological effects of prolonged isolation enabled consumers to put the latest scientific knowledge about the workings of the body to new use to build comprehensive resilience – both physical and mental. The 2023 study will examine how these developments have since evolved as well as any new adjustments, as consumers increasingly look past the pandemic. The study will also explore more broadly what’s new, what’s mainstream and what’s around the bend in the world of health and wellness. Topics under examination include but are not limited to:
- The World of Health & Wellness, including updated consumer segment profiles
- Priorities and trade-offs involving health and wellness
- Impact of inflation on health and wellness priorities and behaviors
- Role of food and beverage in health and wellness
- Ingredients trending out (avoided) and trending in (added)
- Who consumers trust as partners in supporting their health and wellness
- Channel usage (grocery, mass, drug, club, natural/specialty, dollar/discount, online, convenience)
- Health & Wellness when dining out (restaurant and food service)
- Ongoing effects of COVID-19 pandemic on health and wellness
- Impact of socioeconomic markers on attitudes and behaviors toward health and wellness
- Recommendations about innovating and messaging around modern health and wellness needs