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How Gen Z Are Creating Their Own Wellness Culture
Gen Z is redefining the meaning of wellness, and 2024 will be the year they truly take their health and wellbeing into their own hands.
Dubbed the ‘lonely generation’ - a strange paradox as gen z’s hyperconnection in virtual spaces has led to a level of social disconnection. Gen z’s well-being has been dramatically impacted by their confidence to connect beyond the screen. Partly a result of behaviours from the pandemic that led them to spend an inordinate amount of time away from friends, gen z are some of the hardest hit by the connection recession.
As a result of health practitioners in the UK and US being ill-equipped to treat mental health issues, there is also a growing distrust of conventional doctors, which is pushing these digital natives to turn to TikTok and other social media platforms.
Increasingly absurdist products promoted by the wellness industry have meant gen z are rejecting any trends that try to claim a combination of athleisure wear and mushroom powders solve-all. A lack of support from established healthcare providers coupled with barriers including exclusivity and affordability has meant the younger generation is set in the belief that there must be another way.
Whilst nutrition and exercise have always been the cornerstone of a healthy lifestyle, 76% of gen z's define wellness as something much more accessible and holistic - “anything that makes you feel good”. This can involve rest, feel-good content and laughter, as well as getting real about mental, sexual and emotional health.
Rather than chasing unrealistic goals and aesthetics, gen z wants to be honest about their health and embrace imperfections, and brands would be wise to follow with content, entertainment and messaging aimed at making people feel good.
I’ve tracked some of the viral TikTok trends and conversations that have resonated with gen z and can be golden opportunities for brands who want to be relevant to this shifting wellness culture.
1. Glossy is over
Following years of disingenuous beauty routines and rigorous diet programmes that have featured heavily in the lives of millennials, gen z is exhausted and looking to slow down.
One example of this is the #bedrotting trend that went viral over the summer. While not a new concept, #bedrotting involves exactly what it suggests and features creators who share content about vegging out in their beds all day.
2. Micro-dosing social joy
Stopping to smell the roses is out, #glimmers are in. This trend encourages people to get creative about how they feel about gratitude and shows people being vulnerable and honest about their well-being.
The term was invented by therapist @heydrjustine and the goal is to make people feel better about being imperfect.
3. Lol yourself better
Laughter is, as always, the best medicine. Feeling good is not only about honest conversations but also about escapism and finding joy.
Half (50%) of users say TikTok boosts their mood, whether it’s through sharing memes or chatting to people about their favourite TV shows.
4. Community comfort
Virtual spaces are also a way of socialising and communicating with others. Platforms like TikTok and Reddit are combating loneliness among young people because they allow them to find communities and fandoms where they feel like they belong.
Whether it’s #girldinner, #girlmath or #sadgirl; girl trends have dominated pop culture in the past year and the playfulness and parody around fitting in and societal expectations has meant a community of womxn and girls has found a new release.
5. Cosy Cardio
As exercise culture evolves, so will workout routines. Gen z'er and cosy cardio creator Hope Zukerbrow started something on TikTok that presented a version of aerobic fitness that was more candles and mood lighting than it was stairmasters and dumbbells.
For brands that are finding the world of TikTok overwhelming, there are easy ways of getting started..
First of all, remember that wellness isn’t limited to one industry and that it’s possible to play in different creative spaces. Just ensure that your ultimate goal is to make people feel good.
Secondly, brands need to tap into the niche and understand how the conversation shifts on platforms such as TikTok to find new ways to contribute.
Thirdly, a great way to get involved is to find emerging creators to work with. These creators will be the most culturally relevant and can provide a way of engaging with new audiences authentically.
And finally, the most important thing to remember is to try to be helpful rather than harmful and to work with credible partners. According to research from CharityRx, 37% of young people turn to influencers for health advice because they are easier to access than doctors. However, we need to recognise the link between social media and misinformation, as well as the dangers of self-diagnosis. Fortunately, some health professionals are joining the conversations to help bridge this gap, sharing science-backed content and honest answers to questions that lead the way to debunking myths and helping people take better care of themselves.