Drivers of the global wellness sector

The Global Wellness Institute has issued a white paper series, “Understanding Wellness”, which will provide insights on how wellness is evolving now and into the future.

The first report in this series, The Global Forces Driving the Growth of the Wellness Economy, examines the four macro forces that are propelling consumer demand and the surging growth of the wellness economy around the world.

Ophelia Yeung of GWI and co-author explains. ” Wellness is a concept that is both ancient and contemporary. Because of that, most people have an intuitive understanding of what it means, how to apply it to daily life, or how to create business opportunities out of it. The wellness economy is now a US$4.2 trillion global industry. Yet, the questions that we most often encounter are: ‘What is wellness?’ ‘Why is it growing?’ and ‘What does it really mean?’ In the ‘Understanding Wellness’ series, we want to answer these questions because a common language for and basic understanding of wellness can help bridge the divide with other industries and disciplines and broaden its applications and impacts.”

The report states that economic, technological, social, demographic, and environmental changes have transformed every aspect of people’s lives, with both positive and negative impacts on wellbeing. The growth of wellness practices and businesses is fundamentally a consumer response to these developments, and this movement is turning into a major societal and economic force.

The four forces driving the wellness boom identified are:

  • The world’s population is growing sicker, lonelier and older. Deteriorating health, the spread of loneliness and mental illness, and the ramifications of aging all negatively impact people’s happiness and wellbeing. In response, consumers are turning to wellness approaches to address these challenges.
  • The environmental crisis is also a health crisis. Environmental degradation and its causes are bringing immediate, direct, severe and widespread harm to human health and wellbeing—from the air we breathe to how we procure and consume food to how we live and travel. As people become aware of these risks, they seek out alternative lifestyles that are healthier for themselves and more sustainable for the planet.
  • Health systems are failing to keep up while the economic burden rises. Health systems are failing all around the world, and the economic burden is unsustainable. So consumers, employers and governments are turning to wellness approaches to complement and address deficiencies in healthcare and to turn from sick care to prevention.
  • Demographics, value systems and lifestyles are all evolving toward wellness. Consumer values are changing and moving toward a lifestyle of wellness that is fundamentally shifting consumer behaviour and consumption patterns. This shift is bolstered by the rise of the middle class, urbanisation, accessibility and a concern about the impact of ubiquitous technology.