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The Global Wellness Economy Fell to $4.4 Trillion Thanks to COVID-19; Forecasted to Grow to $7 Trillion by 2025

Global Wellness Institute Releases Research Report, The Global Wellness Economy: Beyond Covid

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At the Global Wellness Summit in Boston, The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) shared its highly anticipated research report, The Global Wellness Economy: Beyond COVID, which features data on the wellness economy and its eleven sectors. The report also reveals how the pandemic impacted the wellness industry along with information on how individual markets fared.

While the global wellness economy was growing steadily before 2020, it fell 11 percent to $4.4 trillion in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, according to the report. The news wasn’t all doom and gloom though, as GWI predicts the wellness market will rebound to pre-pandemic levels this year ($5 trillion) and grow at a pace of 10 percent through 2025, when it will reach $7 trillion.  

“This research update is crucial, because 2020 is the watershed year that will forever divide history–and the trajectory of the wellness economy–into ‘before’ and ‘after’ COVID-19,” says Ophelia Yeung, GWI senior research fellow. “When we analyze how different wellness markets performed in the last year, it’s natural to want to compare them and label winners and losers. But there is no question that wellness–as a concept, as a lifestyle priority, and consumer value–is a big winner from the pandemic.”

Wellness Economy Projected Growth Rate

One market that continued to thrive throughout the pandemic was wellness real estate. The market grew from $148.5 billion in 2017 to $225 billion in 2019 to $275 billion in 2020. The market is expected to double to $580 billion from 2020 to 2025.

Wellness tourism and spas both lost ground as a result of COVID-19. However, both industries are expected to recover. Although the market for wellness tourism shrunk 39.5 percent to $436 billion, it’s projected that it will grow annually by 21 percent through 2025. Before the pandemic, the spa industry was growing at an annual rate of 8.7 percent. Unfortunately, revenues fell by -39 percent in 2020. But the industry is predicted to grow 17 percent annually through 2025.     

Spa Revenues by Region

Mental wellness was another pandemic winner, as consumers sought out solutions to help them cope with the uncertainty of the pandemic. Healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss is another sector that fared well. It grew from $858 billion in 2017 to $912 billion in 2019 to $945.5 billion in 2020, and it is forecast to grow 5 percent annually through 2025, to reach $1.2 trillion.

While workplace wellness was on the rise, it shrank 7 percent in 2020 to $48.5 billion. According to the report, companies are recognizing that a compartmentalized approach to employee wellbeing is not the answer to addressing stress, work-life, balance, and mental health. Instead, holistic approaches that involve changing company culture are much more effective. The market is expected to grow 4 percent annually through 2025.

“The wellness economy will grow to $7 trillion in 2025, because the forces that have been driving it remain as powerful as ever: an expanding global middle class, an aging population, and rising chronic disease,” says Katherine Johnston, GWI senior research fellow. “But the pandemic has brought new shifts and a global ‘values reset:’ Wellness’ now means far more than a facial or spin class, with a growing focus on mental wellbeing and the importance of work-life balance, social justice, environmental sustainability, the built environment, and public health. These drivers will underpin the recovery of the wellness economy; they will also shift consumer, policy, and healthcare spending in new directions.”

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.