The Less-Expected Growth Areas for Consumer Wellness: Veganism, Athleisure and More

Aimee Bellah

Aimee Bellah

October 1, 2021 () –

My last blog explored the idea that the coronavirus pandemic has led consumers to make wellness and self-care a greater priority in their lifestyle and purchasing decisions.

Previously, I highlighted the more traditional wellness categories such as vitamins, supplements and over-the-counter medicines.  Still, a wellness-centric way of thinking can influence consumers’ purchasing decisions for products that aren’t typically considered health care.

Food and Beverages

While diet may seem like an obvious factor in a person’s health, it’s important to note that this is a preventive approach—and consumers in a number of countries have not always been focused on prevention. In fact, a survey by global brand agency 1HQ in May this year shows 63% of respondents are much more focused on preventive health than they were six months earlier.

With regard to fast-moving consumer goods such as food and beverages, 58% of survey takers say they plan to purchase products that are marketed as healthier. This even surpasses interest in sustainable products, an important factor for 43% of consumers.

According to McKinsey’s global survey from April 2021, consumers are looking for food that helps them accomplish their wellness goals. More than one-third of consumers say they will “probably” or “definitely” increase their spending on nutrition apps, diet programs, cleanses or subscription services over the next year.

Still, opinions vary on what defines a food as “healthy,” leaving the category open to myriad options.

Functional foods—typically fortified or offering special health benefits—seem to be one option, as more than half of Americans say they are purchasing them, according to a Hartman Group report early this year. Another 58% say they would be more likely to buy a beverage marketed as immune-boosting, compared to beverages without such claims.

Polling published in September found more than half of Americans saying they are eating fewer animal products since the COVID-19 pandemic began—citing health as reason number one.

In October 2020, 59% of Americans reported choosing better-for-you snacks and meals more frequently than they would have before the pandemic.


At the start of the pandemic, Mintel identified a “protect and prevent” approach by consumers with regard to their health—leading to a revolution in how people approach beauty and personal care. Products marketed as clean, safe and sanitary were the hero of the pandemic—a change in pace from products marketed solely based on appearance, such as color cosmetics.

Still, appearance matters too, according to the McKinsey survey. In fact, it is one of the six pillars that make up the modern consumer’s view of wellness.  The difference, however, lies in how people are approaching their appearance.

A look centered on wellness-oriented ‘athleisure’ apparel, skin care and collagen supplements is more in vogue now. Nonsurgical cosmetic procedures have also sprung into the limelight—involving micro needling and lasers, to name a couple.

Mental Health

I’ll be the first to say it’s tricky to write about consumer demand for mental health services. The category could span clinical or non-clinical forms of mental health care, but here we can focus on the “mindfulness” trend.

First, a definition of “mindfulness” as provided by a Google search: “a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”

Unsurprisingly—again citing McKinsey’s expansive survey—“better mindfulness” is one of the main factors that make up today’s definition of “wellness” among consumers worldwide. After all, during the pandemic, consumers reported increased feelings of distress.

Specifically, more than half of consumers in each country surveyed reported a desire to prioritize mindfulness. Half of consumers said they wished there were more mindfulness-focused products and services available.



This consumer wellness series has left me with the growing impression that consumers across the globe have been doing a lot of mental scrubbing during their respective stay-at-home orders. Survey after survey, across numerous product categories, people appear unified in at least one conclusion: their health matters.

As I stitch together these multiple new facets of consumer wellness, an image forms in my mind: it is a person wearing simple, breathable apparel. Minimal color cosmetics. Natural-looking hair and beauty products. Smooth, microneedled skin… and maybe a green smoothie in hand.  


Aimee is the Health Care and Chemicals editor at Industry Intelligence, which can help YOU better address your own industry challenges. To arm yourself with the latest market intelligence, contact or call 310-553-0008 if you’re interested in receiving or sharing the IMPACT report with your colleagues or partners.

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