Tracking a year of continuous change
2021 was a wild ride in just about every way, including Americans’ health and wellness. In many ways, 2021 looks much like 2020, with its unusually high levels of variation in health engagement. In other ways, 2021 is its own beast entirely, growing out of 2020 and showing that many of the trends that Americans developed early in the pandemic are here to stay, with lasting impacts.
In our State of Our Health 2022 Annual Trends Report we explore 10 major trends from 2021 and what they mean for 2022.
Show us the trends!
1. Health engagement moves from aspiration to action
Americans grew more engaged with health and wellness over the pandemic, particularly nutrition. But did the pandemic make a dent in the number who aren’t interested in nutrition or fitness? Find out in our sample infographic!
2. Mindfulness shifts consumers’ approaches to food and fitness
A sustained increase in the number of Americans with regular mindfulness practices has been a positive outcome of the pandemic. Even better for health-focused brands, these are highly engaged health and wellness consumers who are willing to support their routines with greater spending.
3. Millennials prioritize wellness over work
Millennials doubled down on wellness in 2021, with year-over-year increases in participation across all aspects of health, unmatched by any other generation. Millennials also shifted their priorities toward work-life balance. Already a trendsetting generation with a distinctive approach to food and fitness, Millennials are primed to give an even greater share of their dollars to health-promoting products and services in 2022.
4. Disruption of fitness patterns continues
Seasonal engagement with fitness fluctuated dramatically through 2021, with higher highs and lower lows than pre-pandemic. These remarkable shifts indicate that Americans still haven’t found an equilibrium in their fitness habits, and point to another dynamic year as both fitness consumers and businesses continue to adapt.
5. Gym membership rebounds, but members are different
Gym membership reached 2019 levels in the latter half of 2021, but gym member demographics are markedly different than pre-pandemic, with more men and more younger members. Gyms that put all their efforts into pleasing their current customers may find it more difficult to bring back women and older consumers when they do return, which they will.
6. Online fitness will overtake gym memberships
Participation in online/digital fitness continues to increase, even as consumers also return to gyms. The next year will continue to bring disruption to the fitness industry as online and in-person brands scramble for share of mind, workouts, and wallet.
7. Team sports come back in the second half…of the pandemic
Organized sports took a big hit during the first year of the pandemic, with many fearing for the future of youth sports in particular. But team sports have come back in a big way, and not only among teens. Millennials and Gen X took up team sports at higher levels than pre-pandemic, pointing to more spending on gear, apparel, and footwear in 2022.
8. Women continue to avoid dining out
Both men and women have changed where they source their meals during the pandemic in lasting but opposite ways. Women continue to invest in home cooking, while men source more meals more regularly from a wider variety of places, from restaurants to grocery. These trends point to a new landscape of consumer decision-making around dining in or out that will continue to impact all parts of the food and beverage industry.
9. Younger consumers go organic
Gen Z and Millennials ramped up their organic purchasing through the pandemic. Rather than getting a reality check at the check-out counter, younger consumers are taking action on the widespread aspiration to buy more organics. Alongside their new focus on prioritizing wellness, this trend has legs.
10. Millennials say no to meat
At the same time, Millennials are also putting down the meat and dairy. The number of consumers following a vegetarian or vegan diet has crept up over the years, but among nutrition-engaged Millennials, 1 in 3 is following some variety of meat-reducing diet, with Gen Z close behind. This represents a paradigm shift in what a “healthy diet” includes, with ramifications for any brand in the protein space.
How are these trends impacting your business? We’d love to hear about it!