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The coronavirus has fundamentally altered and elevated the health and wellness space over the past two years in ways that will continue to impact brands in 2022.
In the face of existential uncertainty and chronic stress, many people have chosen to focus on stabilizing their own health and well-being by taking active steps to reduce stress, improve sleep and maintain their physical and mental health.
The request for supplements skyrockets, which makes sense. When reality seems out of control, consumers are looking for products that improve mood, prevent disease and strengthen our systems in the face of the challenges of uncertainty— and the request is should only grow.
Another byproduct of the pandemic: Cannabis has proven to be recession proof, and millions of Americans have found cannabinoids to be a key source of plant-based stress relief. Mushrooms are also having a moment (both psychedelic and otherwise), and their popularity further underscores the revived Western interest in ancient traditions of herbal medicine and growing consumer appetite for plant-based alternatives to pharmaceutical drugs. Millennials and Gen Z are leading the charge in their openness to natural remedies and integrative health…they’re all about the ounce of prevention.
All of these developments are good news for consumers, brands and investors in supplements as well as cannabis, hemp and mushrooms. Here are the trends I see dominating the markets in 2022.
Related: Here are some smart cannabis predictions for 2022
Cognitive-enhancing supplements are in greater demand than ever – after all, who doesn’t want a better brain? But increasingly, consumers are taking a long-term view, investing in supplements like pharmaceutical-grade omega-3s, CBD, herbs and mushrooms with neuroprotective properties. Preserving brain function is a priority for many older Americans. Generation X and Generation Y also want nootropics, but for different reasons. They are looking for natural brain boosters that will help them focus and increase their productivity without the nasty side effects of caffeine, sugar, or prescription drugs.
The stress and upheaval of the pandemic has led people to place a higher priority on calm and clear thinking. The pandemic fundamentally changed our approach to mental health— most of us found life harder to live with, and many people needed more support to deal with issues like fatigue and brain fog. No wonder nootropics have been shown to reduce the impact of stress has gained popularity.
2022 could very well be the biggest year for mushrooms yet. Books like Michael Pollan How to change your mindthe documentary fantastic mushroomsand regular titles on the really exciting new research emerging from the Johns Hopkins Psychedelic Research Unit brought psychedelic exploration and therapeutics into the mainstream. Psychedelics look like the next big move by investors – indeed, the psychedelic market is expected to reach $10.75 billion by 2027. AT Fortuneinvestor Sean McClintock linked the rush to invest to the pandemic: “In the context of a post-COVID world, psychedelic healthcare will become a critical tool in the treatment of worsening mental health issues. “
Science also reveals that even non-magical mushrooms have some pretty amazing qualities: from lion’s mane and its impact on brain health, effects of cordyceps on the immune systemand chaga anti-inflammatory propertiesit is not surprising that a population newly interested in preventive health seeks them.
3. Cannabis legalization
This imaginary dream of national cannabis legalization could actually become a reality in 2022. the first ever federal bill proposed by Republicans to legalize marijuana was introduced last November; nearly half of Republican voters support decriminalization at the federal level. A standard 91% of Americans support legalization in one form or another. The DEA has reported that Delta 8 (a controversial cannabinoid similar to THC that is usually derived from hemp) is not banned by the federal government, which puts even more pressure on the federal government to act on legalization. A recent report by the Economic Policy Institute candidly states that “federal legalization of the cannabis industry seems likely to occur within the next few years.” We could actually reach the tipping point for nationwide cannabis legalization within the next year, which would trigger a flood of change. New tax revenues alone are estimated at $128.8 billionand legalization could result in 1.6 million new jobs. Research on cannabis therapeutics will explode. The economic impact will create disruptions that Silicon Valley technologists could only dream of. I’m watching this space closely – anyone adjacent to health and wellness should do the same.
If we have learned anything from the pandemic, it is the need for resilience and the ability to adapt in the face of disruption and change. But the growing consumer interest in natural and preventative health measures is, in my view, a positive development. Viewing health as a long-term commitment that involves daily choices, proactivity and self-care will not only drive markets, it will translate to better health outcomes for everyone.