Young Europeans are expanding the definition of wellness beyond just physical or even mental health. Now, it’s all about how they feel…
- Gen Z and Millennials are pushing wellness culture away from looking good to feeling good
- Their feel-good approach to wellness is turning indulgence into a form of self-care
- Brands have an opportunity to lean into this new definition of wellness with marketing and products that encourage feeling good
Over the years, Gen Z and Millennials have radically altered what “wellness” means to them—and to culture at large. Raised on diet fads and images of jutting hip bones, Millennials turned health and wellness away from weight-obsessed and towards “fit is the new pretty.” #BodyPositivity took off during this time, giving Gen Z a new take on health and wellness. Meanwhile, Gen Z and Millennials alike have worked to make mental health a core part of wellness, shifting the lens away from body image to emotional well-being.
But don’t think they’re stopping there. As these younger gens redefine just about everything, they’re pushing to shift the definition of wellness even further. Where older gens may define their health and wellbeing by their physical fitness, Gen Z and Millennials see it more holistically, and are gathering things not typically thought of as health-related under the widening wellness umbrella. This doesn’t mean physical health is no longer part of their definition of wellness, of course; it’s just that these gens aren’t working out with the main goal of looking good anymore. Instead, exercise—and everything else related to wellness—is all about feeling good, in mind, body, spirit, and beyond.
In our recent What Is Wellness? trend report, YPulse went deep into the many ways young Europeans’ are reshaping the definition of wellness. These three stats from the survey offer a window into how they view wellness now:
For young Europeans, wellness is all about feeling good
Where health used to be defined by strict rules and metrics, 87% now think that wellness looks different for everyone—and that means everyone can decide for themselves how to approach their health and well-being. This has given rise to a whole new class of wellness, which focuses above all else on feeling good: 76% of young Europeans now say that people should do whatever makes them feel good in the moment to optimize their health / happiness rather than stick to a strict routine (24%)—and the majority also say that this is how they approach their own wellness. And when they say “whatever makes them feel good,” that’s exactly what they mean: 82% of Gen Z and Millennials say wellness can be anything that makes them feel good. For many, this has expanded their wellness routines to include a huge variety of things—including hanging out with friends, shopping, reading, and traveling—and has changed the reason why they’re focused on their wellness: among the 75% of young Europeans who say they’re proactively working on their wellness, their top reason for doing so it “to feel good.”
This doesn’t mean that traditional wellness practices have gone out the window, of course. In fact, when asked what they consider to be a part of wellness, young Europeans’ top two answers are “eating healthy” and “exercising.” But it does mean that their definition has expanded to include some things that aren’t traditionally considered healthy…
They’re embracing indulgence as a form of wellness
With wellness redefined as anything that feels good, young Europeans now say that even “unhealthy” things can be considered a part of wellness if it brings joy. In fact, 72% of 13-39-year-olds in Western Europe agree, “It’s ok to do something unhealthy if it makes you feel good,” and 68% say somebody can work out and eat junk food in one day, both for their wellness. In other words, indulgence is now an act of self-care rather than a “guilty pleasure,” and unhealthy foods and behaviors are seen as healthy in other ways. This has given way to counter-trends such as “night luxe,” which turns glam indulgence into self-care—and goes against 6AM sun salutations and clean eating. Matcha lattes are swapped for espresso martinis, smoothies in the morning for glasses of red wine in the bath at night, and morning routine vlogs for clips of a night out with friends. And for many young Europeans, this is the brand of wellness they want brands to embrace, too…
They want brands to encourage “feel good” wellness, too
The majority of young Europeans say that current wellness culture is toxic—and that brands have a hand in promoting this unhealthy view of health. Now, instead of promoting an outdated, one-size-fits-all version of wellness, young Europeans want brands to embrace products and marketing that lean into the wellness culture they’re creating for themselves. In fact, 66% say they want brands to encourage them to do things that make them feel good, no matter how healthy it is, and 76% say they’re interested in wellness / self-care products that fit in with their less-than-perfect lifestyles. While this may seem complicated, the good news is that these gens’ expansion of wellness has created a landscape where any product can be a wellness product—which means any brand can be a wellness brand. As long as brands tap into young Europeans’ feel-good approach, they can join the wellness conversation.
YPulse Western Europe Business users can access the full WE What Is Wellness? Trend report and data here.
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