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Global Wellness Summit Releases The Future of Wellness 2023 Trends

Discover the trends expected to shape the wellness industry in the year ahead
Wild swimming is just one of this year’s trends.

At a press event in New York City, the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) released its annual global trends report, The Future of Wellness 2023 Trends, which identified 12 key trends impacting the wellness economy in 2023. Some key takeaways include a renewed interest in science-backed products and treatments and a growing focus on collective wellness, which prioritizes the health of the community and planet over the individual experience. “Cast your mind back to 2019, the high-water mark of the hyper-consumerist, product-flooded wellness market–with so many evidence-challenged trends-a-minute,” says Susie Ellis, GWS chair and CEO. “This year’s report is proof that the wellness market of just three years ago suddenly feels archaic. Wellness in 2023, and beyond, will be more serious and science-backed, but also more social and sensory.” Here, are the trends to watch:

1. Wellness + Gathering

Wellness Comes for the Loneliness Epidemic

With loneliness and social isolation affecting both physical and mental health as well as longevity, the industry is looking for ways to tackle this new epidemic in which approximately 33 percent of adults worldwide report feeling lonely. “The biggest wellness trend is the development of new spaces and experiences that bring people together in real life—creatively and with intention—where social connection is the burning center of the concept,” says Beth McGroarty, vice president, research and forecasting, GWS and the Global Wellness Institute (GWI). Social wellness clubs like Remedy Place, where the press event was held, to Othership, a social bathhouse, and Six Senses Place are providing an alternative to the local bar with places to take advantage of health and wellness experiences.

“More governments are fighting loneliness with new policies, and there’s even a new ‘social medicine,’” says McGroarty. “The future of wellness? A move from lonely to social self-care, from buying to belonging, from URL to IRL, from ego to empathy, from Goop to group.”

2. Wellness + Travel

From Global Smorgasbord to Hyper-Indigenous

Community-led indigenous travel offerings and culturally rooted wellness services will take center stage as opposed to the Disneyesque experiences available worldwide. Think lomi lomi being available in New York or Thai massage in Paris. “But with a new critique of wellness as a profound cultural appropriator, a rising social justice movement, and greater emphasis on authenticity, travelers are now seeking much deeper cultural experiences and showing interest in going to the source of ancient healing and knowledge to learn how they care for the land and for themselves,” says Elaine Glusac, a freelance writer and New York Times columnist. “Indigenous travel and going to the cultural source for wellness is our travel trend for 2023.”

3. Wellness + Workplace

Workplace Wellness Finally Starts to Mean Something

As evidenced by growing burnout rates, quiet quitting, and The Great Resignation, workplace wellness initiatives haven’t been all that effective. As a result, there is a reimagining of workplace wellness programs. From extended company-wide vacations to the “right to disconnect” from emails after hours, companies are reforming workplace wellness as we know it.

4. Wellness + Beauty

From “Clean” to Biotech Beauty

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that science matters. And that thinking is translating to the beauty sector, where there is a shift towards data-backed products.  “We’re seeing an about face from the conversation around ‘clean beauty,’ with all its muddy claims, to a desire for science-backed products,” says Jessica Smith, brand consultant and wellness and beauty expert, Rennie Creative. “In this trend, we look at the evolution from greenwashing and false claims to today’s new—and welcomed—medical, bio-positive and tech-forward product development and explore what the future might hold.”

5. Wellness + Cities

Urban Infrastructures Just Might Save Cities

Cities that focus on urban wellness infrastructure that addresses community health and wellness will be better positioned for growth. Such innovative thinking is needed for cities to truly thrive. Singapore is one example in which the government is focused on making the city an “urban wellness haven.” Look to other cities to follow suit.  

6. Wellness + Weight

The Skinny on Brown Fat and Eliminating Obesity

It should come as no surprise that living longer and better is a key trend in health and wellness. According to Michael Roizen, M.D., chief wellness officer emeritus, Cleveland Clinic, one of the best ways to increase longevity is to recognize that not all fat is created equal. Brown fat, because of its increased mitochondrial density, burns more calories than white fat, which doesn’t require much energy. Research shows that cold therapy and fasting are both effective in increasing metabolic rate. Expect to see more on the white to brown cell transformation.

7. Wellness + Governments

The Case for Coming Together

Expect to see more governments introducing and pursuing policies designed to improve health and wellness. From healthy eating campaigns to biodiversity protection to work-life balance initiatives, wellness policies empower the community at the local level and create real impact. They have the power to enact real change.

8. Wellness + Water

Blue, Hot, and Wild

Water remains a hot topic in wellness. “There are an unprecedented number of new and in-the-pipeline global destinations and new life is being breathed into long-forgotten facilities–from Australia to the U.S., where about 50 new projects are underway,” says Jane Kitchen, editor at large, Spa Business. “Finally, we are all becoming Europeans. A whole new social era in hot springs has arrived, where developers are combining live entertainment, watery wellness classes, restaurants, and bars with traditional soaking.” And beyond the hot soaks, there is also interest in wild and cross-country swimming.

9. Wellness + Sports

New Business Models for Hospitality

“Savvy hospitality brands are responding to demands from wellness-focused clients looking beyond the basement gym, in search of pro athlete-level equipment, fitness classes, and wellness programming, whenever and wherever they travel,” says Lisa Starr, principal, Wynne Business. “Some hotel brands are even creating facilities that cater to entire amateur or professional sports teams, expanding the function of the hotel and ensuring professional quality for the rest of us.” 

10. Wellness + Senses

Multisensory Integration

While the senses have always played a leading role in wellness, brands are now engaging multiple senses to enhance experiences. “With a better grasp on evidence, wellness brands are using multisensory integration as an approach to deepen and amplify felt experiences,” says Ari Peralta, award-winning neuroscientist and sensory designer. “From wellness brands to spas to retailers, they are experimenting with playful combinations of light and sound, light and taste, etc., to build connection and more meaningful moments.”

11. Wellness + Biohacking

The Wild, Wild West of Biohacking

While biohacking isn’t new, it is evolving. According to Marc Cohen, M.D., director of Extreme Wellness Institute, expect to see new technology, such as AI, brain-computer interfaces, sensorless-sensing, CRISPR, xenobotics, nanobotics, probiotics, morphoceuticals, 3D-tissue-printing, cloud-computing and blockchain technologies that allow us to manipulate molecules, modify genes, manage microbes, create living robots, regenerate body parts, seamlessly monitor and track health metrics, and manipulate our sensory inputs.

“AI can perceive and do things that humans simply can’t—and do them much cheaper and more consistently,” says Cohen. “AI will soon make medical care available to everyone on earth, while AI-powered biofeedback will control our temperature, pressure, color, sound, smell and electromagnetic inputs in real time to create augmented reality games that take us on personalized healing journeys.”

12. Wellness + Faith

Having Faith in Business

While the pandemic may have led to a resurgence of faith for some, there is talk of it also being embraced in the corporate world.

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About The Author
Heather-Mikesell-author-1

Heather, co-founder of Well Defined and the former editor-in-chief of American Spa, is an award-winning journalist and content strategist, skilled in writing, copyediting, and media relations. She is also a freelance writer and has contributed to Elite Traveler, Islands, Kiwi, Luxury Travel Advisor, Organic Spa, Porthole Cruise, Travel Agent, abcnews.com, jetsetter.com, outside.com, and wellandgood.com, in addition to various custom publications. She is frequently called upon to comment on various spa and wellness trends for various media outlets.