Into the Mainstream: Five Health and Wellness Trends We’ll Still Be Talking About in 2020
We’re well past the halfway point, and so far, 2019 is shaping up to be the year of anxiety in health and wellness. There’s certainly been plenty to be concerned about. There’s the national mood with a heightened sentiment in many of feeling anxious and overwhelmed — by information and messages, by lifestyle ruts that can feel inescapable, by daily work-life balance, by polarizing politics, and by big issues like climate change and the epidemic of gun violence.
These pressures are mainly symptomatic of how consumer understanding and cultural assumptions of health and wellness shift and continue to evolve. While weight is still a key indicator of health, as more consumers adopt a more holistic vision of health and wellness, including the idea of balance, many have shifted their focus from pounds and inches to other ways to achieve a sense of well-being in their everyday lives.
From our Health + Wellness 2019: From Moderation to Mindfulness report, these are five areas teetering on the edge of going mainstream today that we believe will continue further into the mainstream well into 2020 and quite possibly beyond.
Being Mindful of “Self-Care”
The language and logic of “mindfulness” — including the significance of feeling present, in the moment, and being aware of one’s own reactions — has become a critical part of the modern approach to well-being, especially in coping with anxiety and stress. While mindfulness is a contemporary ideal, 10 years ago the concept of “self-care” existed, but it didn’t have a name that mainstream consumers could use to talk about things they did to cope with anxiety and stress. This is related, of course, to the destigmatization of mental/emotional health (49% of consumers strongly agree with the statement "mental and emotional balance is every bit as important as physical health”). Self-care has emerged as a mainstream vocabulary for practices that previous ascetic definitions of health and wellness disavowed (e.g., taking a personal day, treating yourself, making something nice for yourself). It also indicates how mainstream the holistic vision of health and wellness is. It’s about loving yourself rather than flagellating yourself, which is closer to mindfulness than the traditional sin/salvation dialetic that is associated with health and wellness talk.
Fats No Longer the Villain: The Rise of “Healthy Fats”
One of the areas our Health + Wellness 2019 report calls out as “going mainstream” is healthy fats, particularly full-fat/whole-milk dairy products (e.g., butter, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese). Consumers are still divided on whether they should be adding (40% say they’re adding/increasing healthy fats to their diet, and 21% say they’re adding/increasing full-fat dairy to their diet) or avoiding these. Outer Mid-level consumers (the segment within The Hartman Group’s World of Health + Wellness who experiment with health and wellness often because “everyone else is doing it”) are more likely than average, and more likely than Inner Mid-level consumers, to be adding it. This suggests that full-fat dairy has trickled down to the Outer Mid-level, who’ve heard that fats can actually be good for you. It’s still a trend, but if the Outer Mid-level is doing it, that means it’s well adopted among those who are inclined. Of course, keto and paleo diets are now mainstream, and fats are essential to those. We see this as similar to probiotics in 2017 — once you see good-sized adoption among Periphery and Outer Mid-level consumers, it’s gone mainstream.
If Vegetables Are Healthy, Then Veganism Must Be the Healthiest Diet
Veganism as an aspiration is another interesting and impactful trend. Most consumers continue to eat meat (and all the sales data points to an increase in consumption of meat); however, the frequency with which we hear of vegetarianism and veganism as an aspirational diet points to something else going on. There is a sense among many consumers that no animal products are healthy. And because vegetables are, conversely, the healthiest thing, veganism must be the healthiest diet. From a nutritional standpoint, this isn’t true, of course, but that’s another matter. In practice, this makes engaged and younger consumers much more open to meat/dairy alternatives than older consumers. It also means they experiment at higher rates with vegetarianism and veganism.
Looking to the future, this might mean a long-term decline in meat/dairy consumption as more discover the range of possibilities beyond meat — or maybe not. But the aspiration is there for personal health, and it is shored up by a range of emotional and ethical pillars (animal welfare, sustainability, social justice) that give it lasting power.
The Core Consumer Is Skewing Younger
Our Health + Wellness data is clearly beginning to show a skew among younger consumers toward the Core and Inner Mid-level. The purchasing behaviors and criteria of Millennials are moving mainstream simply because the bulk of consumers — and the bulk of consumers with families, who actually do more consuming than anyone else — are younger. This means that companies need to be planning for this shift. The things that we’ve been positioning as “engaged,” “progressive,” or “Millennial” characteristics are now mainstream — or soon will be.
Cannabis for Health + Wellness
Changing legal frameworks, rising consumer interest, and established associations with natural medicine mean that cannabis is poised to be a major disruptor to the current health and wellness marketplace. Interest is higher among Core consumers — health and wellness trendsetters — and younger consumers.
We find that the state-by-state legalization of marijuana and the national deregulation of hemp and CBD have brought about greater consumer awareness of cannabis as a health and wellness product — to the point that consumers now primarily talk about cannabis as a natural, safer way to treat many conditions and something they believe should be made legally available to adults.
HEALTH + WELLNESS 2019 REPORT
Health + Wellness 2019: From Moderation to Mindfulness explores what’s new, what’s mainstream, and what’s around the bend in the world of health and wellness. Many measures are trended over time and show significant change over the past 3-5 years, including foods and ingredients consumers are seeking or avoiding, supplement usage, conditions managed, and even what health and wellness itself means.