Fewer than 1 in 3 Americans report making New Year’s resolutions in 2022. While this is comparable to 2021 levels, both years mark a substantial decline from pre-pandemic behavior, when more than half of Americans made resolutions. But there is some good news hidden under this trend.
Young adults continue to be most likely to make resolutions, but midlife adults may also be feeling more optimistic in 2022
Resolution-making is typically most common among young adults, and remains that way. This year, however, more midlife adults are making resolutions compared to last year, a hopeful sign for the future. This increase in resolution-making by midlife adults may be a sign that this more risk-averse cohort is shaking off their pandemic fatigue and hoping to return to some pre-pandemic behaviors.
We’ve seen in our State of Our Health syndicated health and wellness tracker that midlife adults have been more likely than younger ones to stick to their pandemic restrictions, particularly around gyms and dining out. If midlife adults are focused on change in the new year – change which typically prioritizes health and wellness – this is good news for nutrition and fitness brands.
Top resolution areas in 2022 continue to focus on improving diet, fitness, weight, and mental health, but resolutions are multi-faceted
Americans who make resolutions are still focused primarily on health and wellness – eating better, exercising more, losing weight, and managing stress. However, even though two-thirds of resolution-makers only make 1 or 2 resolutions, they see their resolutions as touching on many different aspects of their lives. For example, those who only made one, weight-related resolution see their resolution as also related to improving their physical health, physical fitness, personal appearance, diet and nutrition, or stress/anxiety level. This speaks to the importance of understanding and speaking to consumer health aspirations in a holistic way.
Resolutions differ dramatically across age groups
While improving diet and getting in shape are top 5 resolutions across all adult age groups, resolutions show how priorities change through life.
Young adults show a more diverse mix of resolutions, including managing stress and anxiety, financial success, and improving personal relationships. By midlife, with more established careers, families, and routines, Americans focus more on stress management and spending quality time with loved ones, alongside diet and fitness. By the time consumers are 55 and up, physical health becomes much more important, particularly weight. Social and mental health concerns drop much lower in the rankings, and addressing bad habits – which may be contributing to health issues – moves into the top 5.
Will resolutions be a victim of the pandemic?
Resolutions are good business if you’re in a health-focused industry. It stands to reason that resolution-makers are likely the ones joining up at gyms and health clubs and signing up for diet services during their January promotions. This means that the big decline in resolution-making over the past two years should be alarming. Will resolutions be a victim of the pandemic?
In our State of Our Health data, we do typically see a January bump in fitness and nutrition engagement. But these bumps didn’t materialize either in 2021 or 2022, both of which saw huge COVID surges and tremendous (ongoing) uncertainty about the year ahead. We suspect that the inability to predict what life might be like in the future contributed to the decrease in resolutions. If January 1, 2023 arrives in a more normal fashion – with in-person parties, passed champagne, even (gasp!) kissing at midnight – we believe we’ll see a return to resolution-making.