The pandemic did a lot to shake up consumer behavior in regard to health and wellbeing. Lockdowns prevented access to traditional healthcare facilities, demand for high-quality health products skyrocketed, and DIY remedies started trending all across the internet.
But if there was one sector that was impacted the most following 2020, it was health and wellness’s lagging eCommerce industry. The need for household health products—and good ones—to accommodate stay-at-home orders was all but necessary for many individuals living through the pandemic. This was followed by a surge of self-reliance surrounding consumers and their own health; people would rather take matters into their own hands through modern technology solutions and affordable approaches than spend the extra money for “professional” services beyond their doorsteps.
How has this shift in consumer behavior been demonstrated across the health and wellness market? Here are 4 ways public wellness is evolving and how consumer demands are being influenced as a result.
- Greater Emphasis on Nutrition and Immune Health
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak, interest in nutrition optimization was typically reserved for health enthusiasts and those who were physically active. Like many things, however, the pandemic drastically shifted the consumer mindset surrounding the foods they eat every day.
According to a survey by the International Food Information Council in 2021, 85% of Americans reported drastic changes to their diets over the course of the pandemic, with 72% claiming they are still eating and preparing food in a more conscious manner as mandates lifted. Self-education around healthy food choices has also increased, with three in four Americans now confident they can choose healthy meals to incorporate into their diet (driving sales for organic options and local food supplies). What’s more, fewer consumers are revolutionizing their plates just to improve their appearance—physical wellbeing is taking priority in most cases.
Interest in immune health is (understandably) also taking a front seat position in the minds of many consumers following the pandemic. A 2022 Mind and Body Wellness Index survey reported that immune therapies, such as IV and red light treatments, have seen 50% higher adoption rates compared to business before COVID.
- Sexual Wellness is Becoming Mainstream
Once taboo in the public eye to discuss and research, sexual wellness products are gradually emerging as a staple in overall consumer health habits and a talking point amongst health experts. The sexual wellness market itself is seeing fast growth according to a Businesswire report and is expected to be valued at $125 billion by 2026.
Along with the increased awareness of health practices by consumers in the wake of the pandemic, increasing national acceptance of the LGBTQ community and gay rights has brought the importance of sexual wellness to light and encouraged open dialogues for quality products in that category to excel. Despite lagging behind other health industries in America (such as fitness and nutrition), sexual wellness continues to rise in popularity and is no longer the touchy subject it once was, resulting in more opportunities to revitalize the industry.
Under this new paradigm, sexual wellness brands (including CC Wellness’s own #lubelife and JO) seek to meet consumer needs directly by providing better resources, services, and solutions that lead to healthier and more fulfilling sexual lifestyles in line with overall wellbeing.
- Fitness is Finding New Life
Gym routines were certainly not exempt from the radical changes brought about by lockdowns. The mass closure of many gyms and exercise facilities left consumers with the challenge of developing functional at-home workouts as suitable replacements. It didn’t take long before many fitness enthusiasts discovered much more affordable alternatives to gym memberships through the purchasing of personal equipment and a massive variety of free online resources spanning many platforms.
A Goodfirms 2022 fitness survey revealed that the majority of people—56.1% to be exact—now meet their exercise needs from the comfort of home as opposed to a large, potentially crowded gym. Some of the major factors to drive this trend include convenience and affordability, as well as safety concerns involving the use of public facilities. After the pandemic, nearly 44% of people invested in personal fitness equipment to keep at home, while 53.7% started using wearable devices such as smart watches. Virtual fitness is also on the rise, causing many traditionally gym-based fitness clubs and group workouts to adopt hybrid models.
Ultimately, COVID-19 brought the importance of physical activity to more consumers than ever before, with almost 66% of people saying they have appended their exercise planning as a result. This is great news not just for the state of public health, but also for the success of the fitness industry as a whole.
- Mental Wellness is Equally Important to Overall Wellbeing
The pandemic had an enormously negative impact on public mental wellness. From discouraging social upheaval during lockdown periods to the constant stream of negative news media throughout 2020, many consumers were forced to find ways to cope with depression and other mental ailments on their own. During the pandemic, a whopping 4 in 10 adults admitted symptoms of anxiety and depression.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported this year that the coronavirus pandemic was responsible for a 25% increase in cases of depression and anxiety across the globe. This was due in part to many stress factors introduced by COVID, including loneliness, fear of infection, and loss of loved ones, among many other examples. These numbers aren’t alleviated by the truth that the mental health industry has been vastly undervalued by governments worldwide in the past: a 2020 WHO Mental Health Atlas report stated all governments only spent an average of about 2% of their health budgets on mental health services.
As a result, the prevalence of mental health resources is currently surging amongst consumers as the quiet stigma surrounding mental wellness continues to burst. Mental wellness apps are predicted to reach a market value of $500 million this year, according to Deloitte predictions. These apps promote recording mindfulness throughout the day and making time for calming activities such as meditation and yoga. Enabling technology such as this is helping mental health optimization spread to a variety of different industries. Consumers are aware that mental health is holistic and are savvy about the content they utilize—as such, tolerance for poor mental health practices is at an all-time low, particularly in the case of a person’s work life.
Overall, these wellness trends serve as an index for a positive movement across the health and wellness industry. Consumers are waking up to the importance of taking care of themselves rather than relying on others to do it for them. Therefore, it is our job as wellness professionals to provide the products and services they need that are accessible, transparent, and wholly beneficial for the mind and body.