By Cynthia Maxwell, Trend Forecasting
Focusing on health and wellness trends as they pertain to food and over all well-being should be pretty easy for me. A vegetarian for 17 years, practicing an Ayurvedic diet for 10, yoga for 17 and a yoga teacher for 11, I feel like I am in touch and knowledgeable. However, as I research our current culture, I wonder how important health and wellness really are? What I have found is that a focused health and wellness lifestyle is STILL an incoming trend having a lot to do with the plethora of health inspired foods, wellness and fitness offerings. Basically our Kombucha,Reishi elixir, fermented, gluten free, anti-inflammatory, Whole 30, Paleo, yoga, Orangetheory, Soul Cycle, Barre, extreme bootcamp (take a deep breath) mindset does not necessarily mean we are “healthy” or practicing a consistent health and wellness plan. It sometimes means as consumers we love new drink, food, and fitness trends-there are tons of them! If you live in a big city, check out how many different versions of yoga there are. Consumers are attracted to these trends but they may be confused as to what will really work for them. It is all very personal.
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So what healthy ways of thinking, practicing and consuming are incoming and maybe even hear to stay? See a few below that I discovered through generational research.
FOOD and GEN Z
Living entirely in the digital age, this multi-cultural diverse group is projected to be the most health focused yet. They have witnessed their Millennial and/or Gen X parents cooking and purchasing healthier meals. Also since their wee little hands have held their parents cell phones, they’ve been pinning on Pinterest and posting on Instagram. All the while viewing food posts and health practices on these sites.
I know a 13 year old who has over 6K followers on Pinterest! This young lady just attended a friends 13th birthday party where the entertainment was for the kids to participate in a Top Chef style cooking competition. They loved it! Excellent don’t you think?
Gen Z has exposure to more food and health trends through websites and literature as teenagers, than previous generations; a few examples- Teen Vegan Network, Free People’s BLDG blog which gives advice on how to use Astragulus root and Spirulina and Teen Vogue featuring articles like “The 10 Foods You’ll Be Eating From Bowls in 2017.” This generation will cook less from recipes and cookbooks because of exposure to posts and online food preparation.
Gen Z’s focus may be on “Unicorn Noodles”, “Unicorn Frappuccino’s”, artisanal doughnuts, snapping and posting the coolest food they can experience. But because of their exposure to healthy eating trends, when they become adults they will desire higher quality food and ingredient transparency from businesses.
Wellness and the Millennials
Millennials desire for wellness in the form of spirituality and well-being is a new trend that affects both the body and the mind.
On recent trend shopping expeditions, I have seen sage wellness kits, crystals, Shaman literature and meditation guidance CD’s, all in hip clothing and gift stores. Are these just trendy experiences that will fade into the next trendy object to purchase. Or is there a need to find a deeper meaning of life? According to marketing agency Brogan and Partners “Although this audience is very much plugged in when it comes to technology, they are not opposed to unplugging to meditate, do yoga, participate in talk therapy or get massages for a more harmonious and mindful approach to healthy living.”
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Millennials are taking interest in “alcohol free” themed social gatherings, as well new pop up parties like The Softer Image-according to their website is an exploration of new ways to party where they combine healers, DJs spinning heart opening dance music, herbalists and chefs that provide super foods and local nourishment. These types of events could be the inspiration behind alcohol free craft cocktails from brands like Curious Elixirs a Mocktails.
Every year millenniel interest in health and well-being rises. In an article published by Benefits PRO, millennials measure success by their work life balance. Happiness is their primary interest at an almost unanimous 97%! 72% say they exercise once a week, and 95% say they care deeply about their health. So it is no surprise that they are seeking alternative life enhancing events, foods, and practices to achieve more mental and physical well-being.
Longer Living Boomers
Just last year baby boomers took second place to millennials as the largest generation.
Because of their numbers boomers still create impact when it comes to trends and the economy. In fact: “Americans over the age of 50 are responsible for half of all discretionary income.” health.howstuffworks.com
Boomers are expected to live longer than previous generations and they exercise more regularly. This group will continue to explore fitness regimens like yoga, walking, cycling, jogging and group fitness classes at health clubs. Boomer focused gyms like Welcyon are opening with fitness machines, group exercise classes and music tailored specifically to this generation.
Studies conducted by Whole Foods notes that Boomers are more attentive to food labels and know more about the origins of their food products than they did in the1980’s. Yet another reason why the organic food category continues to grow.
Just touching on three generation’s health and wellness interests, I’ve found the focus of this topic as it pertains to food and over all well-being, is important. I don’t see this changing anytime...ever. Here are a few final thoughts.
1. Yes, the consumer wants an EXPERIENCE! Ex: Boomers are choosing wellness focused cruises for their holiday. Businesses will win when they have more intimate conversations with the consumer by speaking the consumer’s language.
2. All generations are very important as our younger generations have more knowledge and our older generations are staying young. A pigeon hole focus on one generation, especially when it comes to food, is not a winning strategy-Our gen z’s don’t want to be excluded and neither do our boomers. The lines are becoming grayer between kids and adult food.
3. Product and production transparency will go a long away. With gen z growing up in the digital age they will do the research behind the products they purchase. According to Forbes 50% of millennials are more willing to purchase products from companies that support causes they care about.
4. Quality! A quality product and a quality experience attract a loyal consumer. Yoga has been around for over 5,000 years; starting with a strong foundation, the creation and re-creation of the practice keeps it as one of the top fitness trends today.
5. Online and magazine platforms are talking about taking “Digital Detoxes” and “Find a Deeper Happiness”-this has started movements towards retail spaces that invoke calmness, engaging the senses and allowing for self-reflection. Consumers are taking spiritual retreats. Meditation centers are popping up all over cities in the U.S.- “woo-woo” practices are being embraced!