Wellness may have once been the preserve of Hindu and Buddhist traditions, but it’s now truly thriving in the Western mainstream. From fitness apps to colouring books, there’s no shortage of products and services on offer to help us relax, unwind and master mindfulness. All of which has put the UK’s wellness industry in pretty good shape itself. For instance, the UK fitness sector was estimated to be worth a whopping £7.6bn in 2016, according to research by non-profit health body ukactive.
But how are we paying our way to inner peace? We asked 2,000 Brits to tell us their favourite ways to nourish their bodies and minds, and the results make for fascinating reading.
Check out our top findings about how the nation is transacting its way to tranquillity – and also take note of our list of the best routes to wellness that won’t cost you a penny.
Which products make us feel well? Vitamins and colouring books, apparently
When it came to defining wellness industry products, our study took into account any item that was marketed around improving the health of body and mind.
We found that around a quarter of us engage with wellness products on a daily basis, with a further 22% doing so at least once per week. And there’s a rich variety of products that tempt us into opening our wellness wallets.
Vitamin supplements are the most popular – accounting for 39% of our wellness purchases – while nearly a quarter of us find contentment in colouring books or de-stress with dot-to-dots.
A significant proportion of us see the ‘app’ in ‘happiness’, with 21% downloading fitness apps and 17% making the most of mindfulness apps.
Food is another route to wellness, as more than one in five of us buy organic products to fill ourselves with fulfilment.
The price of wellness is £55
Money might not buy you happiness, but £55 is how much Brits spend on wellness every year on average. And it’s older people who are more likely to part with their cash.
Over-55s spent an average of £54.28 on wellness products, services and activities over the past 12 months – contrasting with the £47.03 spent by 18-24-year-olds. Among the over-55s, one in 10 spends over £130 – more than any other age group.
While the focus on wellness is a relatively recent trend, the older generation appear to have bought into it more than anyone else.
Young people are more likely to click away, while older people are keener to get away
But how do our chosen routes to wellness break down by age and gender? It probably won’t come as any surprise to learn that 18-24-year-olds are in the most app-happy bracket. More than a third of them select fitness apps, while one in four download mindfulness apps.
On the other hand, the over-55s are least likely to find solace in their smartphones, with just 12% heading to the app store. They’re far more likely to buy organic grub or an aromatherapy diffuser, which account for 24% and 21% of their wellness purchases respectively.
Our transaction data also sheds light on how we’re exchanging cash for inner calmness. MBNA customers have spent an extra 15% on hotel spa breaks over the past five years, with these getaways most common among 45-60-year-olds.
However, while spa breaks are popular in the south of England, this isn’t the case in the north of the country– indicating a north-south split when it comes to being primed for pampering.
Confidence and stress are our main wellness goals
Many of us want to feel better about ourselves – that’s why 32% of us spend money on wellness. But when it comes to our motivation, it’s a close-run thing, with 29% of those we surveyed digging into their pockets to feel healthier and 28% doing so to reduce or eliminate stress.
Of those who do want to feel good about themselves, the vast majority (80%) buy wellness-themed magazines, while nearly three-quarters snap up books about mindfulness to help shed excess stress.
Improving focus is the number one goal for over half of fitness app users, while more than a quarter sign up for meditation classes as a way of getting their digital detox.
As we’ve revealed, wellness is a booming sector – and just as with any trend, some of us are just following the herd. That’s one of the reasons men are more than twice as likely than women to spend more on wellness because their friends and family are.
But overall our survey shows there’s a potential link between the type of wellness people want to try to improve, and the products they buy.
Many of us feel better for spending on wellness
And now for our key finding about wellness spending – it works. Well, it does for many of us anyway. Just under half (49%) of respondents said they feel less stressed, with 37% believing they’re physically healthier and 32% sleeping better as a result.
That’s probably why, by and large, we’re planning to carry on spending as much as we have been over the course of this year.
More than half (54%) of those we surveyed said they were going to maintain their wellness budgets at the same level. And 11% are going to be loosening the purse strings even further, mainly to meet new health goals.
Meeting new people (18%) and the feeling that their current efforts hadn’t yet paid off (16%) were other popular reasons people gave for boosting their wellness budget, with only 10% saying they were looking to spend less than last year.
How to improve your wellness for free
You don’t have to open your wallet to achieve wellness – these freebies could bring you cheer even if you haven’t any change to spare.
- Singing. Getting in touch with your musical side is an aerobic activity that stimulates circulation and exercises major muscle groups. Singing has been proven to improve mental alertness, reduce stress and create a sense of achievement through the release of endorphins.
- Going digital-free. Smartphones are great information and communication tools, but they’re also designed to distract us. This robs our brains of important downtime and can prevent us from being creative. Switching off your phone for a weekend can give you this power back, as well as improve sleep patterns.
- Walking. Something as simple as going for a brisk stroll could play an important role in overcoming feelings of depression, stress and isolation. Walking also brings physical benefits to the heart, the lungs and circulation.
Data source: Research in the post comes from a survey of 2000 UK adults conducted by Onepoll in March 2018, in addition to analysis of MBNA customer transactions in 2017.