01 Oct 2022 Spa Business Handbook
 

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Spa Business Handbook - Gen Zen

Industry insights

Gen Zen


Fast-paced traditional wellness. Is there such a thing? Ingo Schweder says this is the direction the wellness industry needs to go to attract Gen Z

Comprising 40 per cent of US consumers, the industry needs to target Gen Z Freebird7977/shutterstock
Gen Z is more open than previous generations to Eastern practices IAKIMCHUK IAROSLAV/shutterstock
Although health conscious, Gen Z wants quick, reliable fixes with visible results 4 PM production/shutterstock
There’s no need to sell wellness to Gen Z –it’s a lifestyle they’ve already adopted G-Stock Studio/shutterstock

A Millennial colleague recently told me that although personal wellness is high on their list of priorities, they rarely have time to reap the full benefit of traditional wellness practices. Gym every day was no problem, but a trip to an ashram or a two week meditation retreat? No way.

Millennials and Generation Z are cited as the consumers the wellness industry needs to pivot towards, but what can we do to appeal to a new lifestyle which is more ‘switched on’ and ‘fast-paced’ than previous generations? It seems this cohort simply don’t have the time, or the concentration span, to engage with traditional wellness philosophies in the way they have been historically experienced. So we must adapt.

Born between 1997 and today, Gen Z is currently the largest generation in America, comprising 40 per cent of all US consumers in 2020 and wielding almost $150bn in spending power in the US alone. They’re embracing concepts of gender fluidity and ethical consciousness and they enjoy breaking down stereotypes, while openly exploring sexuality and mental health in ways earlier generations never dared. These positive values around consciousness and self-care are at the core of how, and why, they consume wellness.

A study out of San Diego State University and Bryn Mawr College found Gen Z is growing up more slowly and responsibly than previous generations. They accounted for 38 per cent of gym sign-ups globally in 2018; 65 per cent use fitness apps and 28 per cent track workouts with wearable technology.

Additionally, the UK’s Office for National Statistics revealed there has been a significant fall in alcohol consumption among the 16-24 age group during the last 10 years. Instead of hanging out at bars or nightclubs, Gen Z are more often found attending detox parties or sober silent discos, or even staying at home, living life through apps and online platforms and getting a good night’s sleep.

Quick fixes
It’s no surprise that a generation blighted with the double-edged sword of heightened self-consciousness, are more stressed about their future than any generation to date. Seventy two per cent of Gen Zs say managing stress and mental health is their most important health concern. Paired with a sense of uncertainty surrounding global warming, economic instability and war, they’re seeing wellness as a necessity, not a luxury.

However, it’s clear Millennials and Gen Zs are looking for quick fixes and answers at the touch of a button: more likely to virtually connect to an ashram than visit one. Gen Z have access to more information and the freedom to explore it than previous generations, therefore traditional wellness may be at a turning point. It must adapt to the needs of current generations, or risk losing credibility.

Although Gen Zs grew up with a holistic perception of health, with an understanding of the link between their physical, emotional and mental wellbeing, few have the time or interest for intense, effort-filled traditional wellness practices. Quick fixes or practices that have clear, fast and visible results are much more desirable.

Tech lovers
Research by Accenture found younger generations are looking for more effectiveness, convenience, efficiency, and transparency when it comes to health and wellness, with 53 per cent of the respondents preferring to video call doctors than visit the hospital in person. With COVID forcing the health industry’s hand, tele-medicine has become almost standard practice for some. So is it time for the wellness industry to do the same? How about a 5D holographic VR remote Wim Hof breathing course?

A large majority of respondents were also found to be more willing to consider Eastern medicine, such as acupuncture and also yoga, than previous generations. The benefits of preventative medicine are not lost on this generation, it’s just the approach which needs to change. It needs simplicity, results-driven validity and possibly a touch of technology.

Holistic health practices, such as Ayurveda and transcendental meditation, have been around for thousands of years, long before modern medicine. They’re unlikely to go anywhere, but simplifying practices may be just what the industry needs – especially after seeing many practices muted and restricted by pandemic regulations over the last two years.

People have less time and money to spend on wellness than they did in 2019 – the most successful year for the industry on record – but growth is still expected if the offerings are aligned with needs.

Locked-up generation
We have a new generation inspired by online information and for some, little else. Locked in their homes at key points of their lives, they’ve had to resort to trusting themselves and their devices, rather than trained practitioners. For better or worse, this approach has seen a boom in health and wellness apps, a shift from in-restaurant dining to at home healthy eating, a preference for products and practices that actually work to improve health and immunity, as opposed to just feeling or looking good.

Greater trust in and interaction with online nutritionists, wellness gurus and personal trainers is also evident and being actively facilitated by traditional wellness and fitness providers who now seek to adapt their offerings. We all know that influencers lead the narrative on everything to do with personal wellbeing and consumption.

There’s no need to sell wellness to members of Gen Z; it’s already a lifestyle they’re defining with every purchase decision. So traditional wellness needs to adapt. We need to look carefully at what we’re providing, sharing and selling, if we’re to make the most out of this incredible opportunity.

It would be wise for us to follow the rules of this generation, rather than dictate what needs to happen.

Rather than trying to change their minds let’s create offerings which speak to them and allow the best of the past to blend seamlessly with the future in the realm of proactive wellness and wellbeing.

Every industry needs to modernise at times and the incoming wellness boom presents a perfect opportunity to refresh old practices. Traditional practices aren’t going anywhere, it’s just time to evolve and make sure they remain relevant.

About the author:

Ingo Schweder has more than 30 years experience in the field of hospitality, wellness and spas. He founded wellness hospitality consulting and management company, GOCO Hospitality in 2009, which works globally.


Originally published in Spa Business Handbook 2022 edition

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