MIAMI, United States – The Global Wellness Summit released its annual wellness deep dive on the major trends impacting the $4.4 trillion global wellness economy earlier this month, and pinpointed the rise of a “wellness metaverse” that will have mankind interrogating its relationship with tech like never before.
The report – based on the insights of hundreds of global executives of wellness companies, economists, doctors, investors, academics, and technologists that gather each year at the GWS – was authored by leading journalists, analysts and wellness experts.
Among ten key themes the 110-page report explored – from the role of regenerative agriculture in “soil bathing” and how AI is closing the gender gap for women’s health – the rise of a wellness metaverse will have drawn particular attention from brands, consumers and investors keen to harness this powerful new technology.
“With wellness front and centre in consumer’s minds – and at the forefront of business and government strategies around the globe – the world is seeking new technologies that can far better engage and impact the health of many more people,” the report’s authors wrote.
“Fortune 500 companies are unveiling creative, disruptive new products and services that can improve people’s health and lives. The coming metaverse will move beyond gaming and health and wellbeing will be at the centre.
“From virtual reality and augmented reality to merged reality and haptics, the coming wellness metaverse will create vast opportunities for each sector of the $4.4 trillion global wellness economy.”
To build a wellness metaverse, the report continued, there will need to be “unprecedented new synergies” between the technology, wellness and health industries.
“Wellness sectors, including fitness, beauty, healthy eating, mental wellness, wellness tourism, wellness real estate, spas and workplace wellness are introducing new technologies and virtual worlds that deliver a far more immersive experience and radically transform how wellness is delivered to global consumers.”
Meta muscle in on the metaverse
Most notably in October, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) signalled its intent to harness this new digital wellness universe by acquiring Within, the parent company of VR fitness platform Supernatural.
Designed for Oculus Quest and paired with the user’s smartphone, Supernatural delivers precise coaching, fitness tracking and immersive workouts that blend the worlds of exercise and entertainment. As such, the move is expected to usher in a new era for VR experiences, a market predicted to grow at an annual rate of 18% to hit $69.60 billion by 2028.
Meta’s VP of Play Jason Rubin suggested this was just the beginning. “We believe fitness will be a massive success in VR where multiple third-party fitness apps can succeed,” he wrote in a blog post.
“Together we will explore ways we can enhance future hardware to support VR fitness apps, encouraging other developers to bring new fitness experiences to VR.”
Boutique fitness chain Trib3 has since become one of the first fitness operators to strike a deal to launch a gym in the metaverse, with the ability to drive real-world revenues.
Commenting on the release of the annual report, Susie Ellis, GWS chair and CEO said: “If it’s always daunting to predict trends in the fast-moving wellness space, it’s especially so two years into a pandemic where the long-promised ‘post-pandemic world’ is becoming visible but is repeatedly delayed.
“One thing that this forecast makes clear is that the future of wellness will be anything but a ‘restart’ of 2019. What consumers now need most, what they perceive as ‘true wellness,’ has profoundly changed.”