MIAMI, United States – The wellness economy represents 5.1% of total global GDP and at $1.2 trillion the US nearly doubles the size of the second-largest national wellness market, according to new research released this month.
Those headline figures were highlighted in a new report by The Global Wellness Institute (GWI), who joined forces with the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) for the inaugural broadcast of the Global Wellness News live from Times Square in New York City.
The report, titled The Global Wellness Economy: Country Rankings, is the first research to measure the wellness economies of 150 nations, and follows the non-profit’s most recent valuation of the $4.4 trillion wellness economy.
The report set out to establish which nations are growing, which are shrinking, how national wellness markets differ and why.
Among the top 20 wellness markets, the United States ($1.2 trillion) and China ($683 billion) unsurprisingly tower over their nearest nations, given their huge populations – 329.5 million and 1.4 billion respectively.
At $1.2 trillion, the US nearly doubles the size of the second-largest market and accounts for 28% of the entire global wellness market, while the top ten markets represent 71% of the world total.
However, the report found that Switzerland ($4,372 per capita) and Iceland ($3,728) punch far above their weight, with individual consumers investing the most in their wellness. In third, the US spends $3,685 per capita on wellness each year.
The Top 10 Wellness Markets:
US: $1.2 trillion
China: $683 billion
Japan: $304 billion
Germany: $224 billion
UK: $158 billion
France: $133 billion
Canada: $95 billion
South Korea: $94 billion
Italy: $92 billion
Australia: $84 billion
The report also shone a spotlight on the vital role wellness plays for tourism-dependent nations, noting that Aruba featured in 10th for nations where consumers spend the most on wellness per capita.
“It may seem surprising to see Aruba rank in the top 10 as it’s not as wealthy as the other ranked countries. This is the tourism effect, where high-spending inbound wellness tourists represent a disproportionate part of the wellness market,” the report’s authors wrote.
In ranking countries by the size of their wellness economy with the size of their total GDP, the Seychelles (16.5%), Maldives (14.5%), Aruba (11.9%), Costa Rica (11.4%), and St. Lucia (10%) make up the top five.
“This is a window into the powerful contribution that wellness tourism brings to their economies, but also shows how in these small countries wellness is more of an ‘export industry’ and for the most part out of reach of locals,” the report noted.
Nutrition, Personal Beauty and Fitness account for 60% of total wellness market
The country rankings also revealed how different wellness sectors dominate in different nations. Both worldwide and in most countries, the wellness market is concentrated in three sectors:
1) healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss
2) personal care and beauty
3) physical activity
These three segments account for more than 60% of the total wellness market.
The report’s findings did however identify a wide national and regional variance. In Japan, for example, personal care and beauty represents a much bigger share of wellness spending than in most countries.
For China, India, Indonesia, Russia, and Turkey, traditional/complementary medicine is more prominent; in Germany, it’s wellness tourism, spas and thermal/mineral springs; while in Sub-Saharan Africa, public health and prevention spending dominates.
Commenting on the report, Katherine Johnston, GWI senior research fellow stressed that the size of a wellness market does not necessarily capture which countries are most “well” or which have the best health outcomes or fair access to wellness.
“There’s much research to do,” she said. “Who is benefitting from the growth of the wellness economy in each country, and who is not? What’s the relationship between the wellness market and the health and well-being of a nation’s population? What can governments and policymakers do to bring more wellness to more people?”
This, Johnston added, would be the focus of the non-profit’s November 2022 report on wellness and policy to be released at the Global Wellness Summit in Tel Aviv.