From AI to Zen: Self Care Trends Shaping 2024 and beyond

I started this newsletter about a year ago to help trend-watching brand marketers and innovators learn about intriguing trends that may inspire new thinking on how you can grow your business.

For my first edition of 2024, I’m trying something different: rather than dissect 3 specific product trends, I’m unpacking 3 meaty trends set to impact 2024 across product/service categories, that reflect the constant, often confounding, evolution of our attitudes and behaviors.

This reflects multiple sources I did my best to cite dutifully.

Please read all the way to the end where you’ll find a question and a request.

Here they are….3 Fascinating Consumer Dynamics shaping 2024

1.      Humanity vs. “The Machine”

2.       “Nano” personalization of Wellness

3.      Ageless or Anxious?

Humanity vs. “The Machine”

Even before the pandemic skyrocketed our digital addiction, it was pretty much fact that our phones, while theoretically connecting to others across multiple platforms and cellular services, actually make us lonely. We’ve read the stats on teen depression (and worse) caused by social media. We know we should shut down our phones before bed…and feel guilty for not doing it. (or just me?)

So, it’s pretty logical that the trend soothsayers are shining a light on our need for human connection in an increasingly out of control world.

Mintel’s 2024 global trend report even coined the term “relationship wellness;” positing that interpersonal relationships are emerging as their own type of well-being, reflecting the vital importance of social connection to our wellness. This need shows up in purchasing attitudes as well: 58% of US consumers say communicating with an actual person is what makes an interaction with a salesperson or customer service department a good experience.

So, there’s a clear call to action here for businesses to balance bot-driven efficiency with less “scalable” humanity.  As Accenture states in their recent Human Paradox white paper, “As consumers seek the level of empathy and service that only a human can provide, brands and companies can offer guidance and reminders of what it means to be human far beyond efficiency.”

You might be thinking, OK, but where does AI fit into this “people need people” paradigm?

Glad you asked! I’ll rephrase: How do we maintain and strengthen human connection in the AI era?

Indeed, as the news continues to get darker, and our planet warmer and drier, many of us genuinely want to slow down our brains, bodies, and the news cycle to just breathe…and connect with people that can provide an antidote. (animals also work as pacifiers; when I smother my dog with cuddles, he enthusiastically responds, but sadly has not yet learned to validate my feelings with words.)

But it’s hard to ignore the constant reminders of the infinite information we can (and implicitly SHOULD) have at our fingertips with a well-trained Chat GPT as our desktop pet.

SO. Stressful.

Like most human responses to big shifts, consumer views on AI are rife with contradictions. And the experts don’t really have answers either.

  • The Accenture report goes on to say “Technology has democratized access to information, with Web3 and the metaverse hinting at a creative and dynamic future, but 43% of consumers say technology advancements have complicated their lives just as much as they have simplified things.”
  • A recent Global Wellness Institute study showed that 60% of consumers are excited about the advancements of AI…and the same study said 71% think it’s moving at an alarming rate.

As I try to live with this cognitive dissonance, it seems to me (and I’m no social scientist) that much like “healthy” eating, striking a balance between spelunking into the unexplored galaxies of AI and laughing with other humans is the ideal to pursue.

I found this quote empowering in that regard: “Forced to adjust to circumstances beyond their control and armed with technology that gives them more access to expertise than ever, consumers are developing a stronger sense of self-reliance.”

My interpretation: let’s have faith in ourselves to determine the solutions in both our work and personal lives…and to screen out the noise that does not serve us.

The “Nano” personalization of Wellness

To continuing our ride on the AI train, let’s talk about health tracking.  The myriad ways we can evaluate and manage our internal well-being, down to the chromosomal level—literally—is awe inspiring. The future of self-care has arrived, and it’s high-tech, personalized, and probably either rose gold or brushed gun metal gray.

My Sleep Obsession edition exposed my mixed feelings on gadgets like the Oura Ring. I’ve read about Viome, a gut-health tool that analyze your microbiome and generate personalized diet recos…it’s like having a nutritionist in your pocket, praising you for making your gut happy. There’s wearable tech to measure body composition, every aspect of your workout and your body’s response, and more. Because who doesn’t want to feel like a mad scientist while you eat, sleep, and exercise?!

We can even track our mindfulness (doesn’t this seem like the polar opposite of being mindful?!). The Muse app uses EEG technology to track your brainwaves during meditation, so you can continuously enhance your practice.

But my question remains: just because we CAN measure every possible aspect of our health and molecular composition, SHOULD we?

To be fair and give these technological breakthroughs due credit, their intent is positive. Beyond just tracking; most are meant to give us deeper self-understanding to live our best lives.

But back to the “let’s focus on human connections” stuff above,—I guess I am still unclear as to WHY this degree of data about our inner workings will make us more well and happier?

For the many, many people that live with serious health conditions that requires constant vigilance, a device makes sense. For this rest of us, it strikes me as more anxiety inducing and self-obsessive than helpful.

Just for fun, here’s a few more interesting tools to put every aspect of our wellness under a microscope:

  • DEXA Scan– this advanced technology provides a detailed analysis of your body composition, helping you tailor your fitness and nutrition plans to meet your unique needs. Your body, your rules.
  • WHOOP Strap – this wearable tracks everything from heart rate variability to strain, ensuring your workouts align with your body’s needs. It’s like having a 24/7 fitness coach cheering you on.
  • Nutrigenomix analyzes your DNA, providing personalized nutrition recommendations tailored to your genetic makeup.
  • Spire Health Tag is a wearable device that not only tracks your stress levels but also offers real-time insights and personalized recommendations to help you find your zen.

Ageless or Anxious?

How old are you?

Would you say the real number to strangers at a cocktail party, to new pickleball friends, or to the Board of Directors of your company?

If yes, you’ve won the game. I’m proud of you.

But for the rest of us,  despite believing– as I do– that age is just a number, when it comes to how we approach our external and internal wellness routines, let’s be real.  No “pro-aging” woman, nor many men, would say Aging Gracefully means just letting everything go. (Exhibit 1: the global anti-aging market is $40 billion, with a projected CAGR of 5%+ through 2030.)

What I find more intriguing is the evolving definition of longevity as your “health span”  vs your lifespan: a focus on proactively and continuously, managing your health and wellness in pursuit of Quality of life over Quantity of years.

Evidence of this can be found in the  explosive demand for preventive medicines, both traditional and “alternative” (no longer such an accurate moniker), the above noted growth of digital-health monitoring gadgets, and advances in clinically-proven antiaging products.

And if we needed more proof, Mintel recently found that 60%+ of consumers place high importance on products/ services for healthy aging and longevity, across all age groups, from young to…. less young.

Yes, Gen Z is already worried about aging, and will chase whatever TikTok-endorsed bee venom or concentrated placenta that promises to keep your skin hydrated and bouncy. Millennials may scoff…but will likely begrudgingly follow their younger sibs trending advice.

But when it comes to the “getting older” conversation, it’s really Gen X who ‘s driving it, putting pretty much everything on the table. Exhibit 2: As I covered in my Feminine Health on Fire edition,  Menopausal care is not just an $17B market, it’s a cultural movement.

So, what’s beyond frustrating is how despite this visibility and authenticity to educate on formerly taboo focused topics (remember Viagra is only 20 years old), ageism in the workplace still runs rampant. By 2050, the Bureau of Labor Statistics and Census predicts the U.S. could miss out on nearly $4 trillion of economic contributions from the 50+ population due to age discrimination.

And yet, this Gen Xer will always find the bright side.

First, I’m a lot smarter than I was when I was 30, so I can make my own choices about what I’m willing to believe (or which beliefs I choose to suspend).

Second, on the workplace front….I think there’s still hope that corporations will figure out what the gig economy already has: that “seasoned” professionals know their s—t. As Heather Tinsley-Fix, senior adviser for employer engagement at AARP, said “It makes great business sense to hire experienced workers…More companies are also recognizing the need to include age in their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.”

So, if you know age is an asset, let’s just keep striving for that perfect balance of human connection, AI -generated “best supplement ever” lists, and 40+ Yoga to keep our psyches healthy. And in the meantime, keep slathering on the sunscreen!


If you’ve read this far, THANK YOU…and now I want to hear what you think!

Below find a final question (1) and a request (2). PLEASE respond in the Comments or send me a DM:

  1. Which of these 3 trends discussed here do you find most compelling and worthy of further consideration for your business, and why?
  2. Which format do you prefer for upcoming Trend Teaser editions:

a. The 3- example approach I’ve used for a while now (Spot On, Missed the Mark, What The…)

b. This approach that digs deeper into broader consumer dynamics

c. I like it all, mix it up and surprise me!

See you next month!

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