Health is Wealth: How Gen Z Navigates Wellness Culture
Wellness culture has truly hit its stride. These days it seems that everyone is trying to live their best life — exercising more, eating differently, taking obscure supplements and optimizing their sleep. On social media, Gen Z can be spotted at the forefront of health trends, glamorizing wellness in the process. But are these latest wellness trends having a positive impact on the generation?
To dig deeper, we talked to our youth panel, Generation Wattpad, to uncover what health and wellness means to them. In a survey of over 750 Gen Z respondents in the U.S., we determined that there’s a fine line between promoting healthy habits and encouraging toxic wellness culture.
Based on our findings, here are two key strategies for brands looking to become a positive guide for Gen Z on their wellness journey:
Partner with Authentic Creators
Diving into the world of creator marketing? Be mindful of who you choose to partner with. Among our youth panel, 69% agreed that social media has glamorized health and wellness substantially and 48% get their wellness and exercise tips from it. With no governing body vetting the information that creators post, it’s imperative that brands partner with those that do their research.
On TikTok, where a large subsect of creators frame their lives through the lens of beauty, diet, and fitness, wellness trends gain momentum at rapid rates. Video captions reading “gorgeous gorgeous girls love soup”, “out for my hot girl walk”, or even “hot girls take digestive enzymes before dinner”, make it hard for Gen Z to avoid the comparison trap.
While creators may not have negative intentions, videos like these only reinforce feelings of insecurity among impressionable followers. Recent trends on the app like the “5 to 9” or “Clean Girl" routines feature predominantly single, white, thin, well-off and employed women sharing their daily lives with their followers. By showcasing their aspirational, organized and highly aesthetic lifestyles, these creators set unattainable precedents that encourage feelings of self-judgment within viewers who cannot live up to their wellness standards.
Refreshingly, we’ve recently observed a rise in creators promoting realistic snapshots of their lifestyles. Take Spencer Barbosa. The content creator has amassed over 7M TikTok followers that tune in for her relatable videos about female body hair, bloating, stretch marks and more. In a paid promotion for Batiste Dry Shampoo, the self-proclaimed “greasy haired girl” claimed that the product kept her hair fresh between washes, rejecting the Clean Girl trend in the process.
With this in mind, it’s crucial that brands choose their partners wisely. By working with creators who exude authenticity, showcasing their human moments in favour of sanitized highlight reels, brands can promote confidence among Gen Z.
Be a Resource
In an era of rampant misinformation, brands have a unique opportunity to help Gen Z navigate the tenuous health and wellness space by becoming an accurate resource for information. With 63% of Generation Wattpad stating that it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, brands have a duty to provide accurate information to support them in whatever way is relevant to their product or service.
The good news? Many brands are already showing up. Nike, for instance, provides a guide for staying on the wellness wagon that includes data on how changing your self-talk to embrace imperfection can help boost confidence. Additionally, TED taps into the stress-busting strategy practiced by 78% of Generation Wattpad, listening to music and podcasts, by platforming Body Stuff. The podcast, hosted by Dr. Jen Gunter, sheds light on the lies the public has been told, and sold, about health in an effort to encourage understanding of how the body actually works.
While toxic wellness culture will always find ways to pervade our newsstands and social media feeds, we’re fortunate to be living in an era of transforming attitudes towards health. By providing support, brands give Gen Z the space and confidence to discover what health and wellness practices truly work for them.
Gen Z is no stranger to shifting cultural norms. Learn more about how Gen Z is redefining beauty.