Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in a series stemming from the follow-up America at Home Study, which was spearheaded by marketing expert Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki of tst ink, consumer strategist Belinda Sward of Strategic Solutions Alliance, and architect Nancy Keenan, president and CEO of Dahlin Group. The first installment can be found here, and find the second here.
The America at Home Study was inspired by the experience of living life from home during the COVID-19 global health pandemic. The results of the study showed the importance of health and wellness today, from virtual training rides and weight training in garages converted into home gyms, to mindfulness meditation breaks between Zoom calls. What may have not been as clear a year ago, but is abundantly so now, is the impact our homes and communities have on our overall well-being. According to the Global Wellness Institute’s (GWI) White Paper Series, “Resetting the World with Wellness: Healthy Built Environments for Healthy People,” 80% to 90% of our health outcomes depend upon the external and environmental factors in our “wellness ecosystem,” defined as a complex web of external factors including access to health care, socioeconomic factors, and our natural and built environments.
It’s that last part, which includes our homes and our communities, that took on even greater importance as the majority of the nation spent a large part of 2020 living life from home. The data in the second wave of the America at Home Study conducted in October and November 2020 indicated that many of the behavior changes made during the pandemic appear to be lasting. And the importance people place on community features such as nature and open space, parks, trails, bike paths, and picnic areas all increased as the year, and the pandemic, wore on. The pandemic exposed health vulnerabilities in a way that challenged many consumers to reevaluate their personal well-being needs.
To better understand this, a series of questions specific to wellness were added to Wave 2 of the study. They provide insight overall, and clarity by generation, for a series of wellness aspects most important to consumers today, and their level of personal satisfaction with each. According to the survey of 3,935 U.S. consumers between 25 and 74 years old with household incomes of $50,000 or more, financial well-being, emotional well-being, and mental health and engagement were the three most important aspects of wellness overall. These were followed by physical health and fitness and an environment free of hazards and toxins rounding out the top five.
While ranked the highest by baby boomers at 87% and by Gen X at 84%, slightly more than 83% of respondents overall said financial well-being was the most important area of wellness in their lives. Perhaps not surprisingly, this was also the pillar of wellness with the largest gap—21% overall—between the importance placed on it and consumers’ satisfaction with achieving it.
Gaps Between Importance and Achievement of Wellness by Generation
Looking at the gaps by generation exposes the different and uneven impacts the pandemic has had on different areas of wellness in people’s lives. And, in some cases, those gaps are significant. For Gen X, the majority of whom are in their peak earning years and beginning to think about retirement, the biggest pain point is financial wellness. This group is also most likely to have equity locked up in move-up family homes, and the millennial buyers behind them may not need, or want, that traditional family home. Millennials’ concerns with their level of financial wellness are just marginally lower than their Gen X counterparts, sounding the call for more innovative and attainable new homes in communities that focus on health and wellness.
For the 72 million boomers in the nation, the oldest ones turning 75 this year, physical health and fitness is the wellness area in their lives with the largest gap between importance and satisfaction. In addition to this generation’s desire to remain active and healthy, the effects of COVID-19 were more significant on them than younger generations. It’s also no surprise that boomers are the generation, at 82%, most inclined to say they will continue to disinfect things more going forward, and look to use their backyard, patio, porch, or deck (cited by 78%) as safe entertaining spaces to maintain their needed social connections.
The Role of “Community” Is More Important Than Ever
The America at Home Study revealed just how deep the importance of health and wellness is for all consumers in our post-pandemic world, which is translating into demand for homes and communities that better meet those needs. Beyond home features, Wave 2 study data showed an increased level of importance for every community feature tested as well*.
|Community Feature||April 2020||October 2020||Difference |
|Nature and open space hikes and activities|
|Large parks with open fields and green space|
|Controlled environment for safety, sanitization, maintenance|
|Small neighborhood park with seating and playground areas|
|Health and wellness clinic|
|Picnic, BBQ, open-air pavilion |
|Outdoor fitness space|
|Pool (standard occupancy allowed anytime)|
*In thinking about buying or renting your next home, what community features would more or less influence your decision? April n= 3,001, October n= 3,935
**Not asked in April Wave 1 study
The Built Environment Shapes our Behaviors and Lifestyles
According to the Global Wellness Institute, wellness real estate accounts for $134 billion of the global wellness economy (2017 data) and has been growing at 6.4% annually since 2015. GWI calculates that our homes represent about 20% of global consumer spending, or more than $8 trillion per year. The built environment’s importance in promoting our health and wellness could not be more important—where and how we live has a huge effect on all dimensions of our wellness. For home builders and community designers alike, in their 2018 report, “Build Well to Live Well,” GWI has some specific recommendations for putting wellness at the forefront of the communities we create and homes we build:
- Make movement the default option in our daily lives;
- Provide free and accessible spaces for active recreation;
- Use nature’s power to improve mental, emotional, and physical well-being;
- Create environments that promote better sleep, rest, and stress reduction;
- Design spaces that encourage pro-social behavior and a sense of community; and
- Promote healthy behaviors and provide good digital infrastructure.
The challenge is clear, and the opportunity is here to employ this thinking to create homes and communities intentionally designed to positively affect all areas of wellness in a lasting and meaningful way.
About the America at Home Study
The America at Home Study was hosted online in two waves during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first wave took place April 23 and 30, 2020, with a nationally representative sample of 3,001 consumers ages 25 to 74 with household incomes of $50,000 or more. The second wave took place Sept. 24 to Nov. 6 with a nationally representative sample of 3,935 consumers in the same age and income brackets. The America at Home Study was spearheaded by marketing expert Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki of tst ink, consumer strategist Belinda Sward of Strategic Solutions Alliance, and architect Nancy Keenan, president and CEO of Dahlin Group Architecture Planning. The second wave was further enhanced with Kantar’s MindBase consumer attitudinal and generational segmentation, providing deeper insights across nine unique consumer targets and enabling potential for direct/digital activation and enhanced messaging. The results reveal Americans’ desire for home purchases, how they feel about and live in their homes, and what changes they’d like as a direct result of sheltering in place. www.americaathomestudy.com