The latest Amex Trendex report from American Express takes a deep dive into the new consumer behaviors that have emerged surrounding a shift in prioritizing mental and physical health to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company’s consumer survey, which looked at audiences in the U.S., Japan, Australia, Mexico, the U.K., Canada and India, revealed more than two-thirds of the consumers indicate that their mental health has been impacted by the pandemic.
In fact, 76 percent of respondents said they would choose to have stronger mental health over a new car and more than two-thirds said they would give up their favorite TV show for it. Overall, consumers ranked managing news consumption, making changes to diet and managing social media consumption as having the greatest impact in supporting their mental health.
To that end, social media has also become a resource with 60 percent of survey respondents indicating that they have included more wellness content to their media feeds over the past year and 28 percent reporting they have spent more time this year exercising using social media videos or classes.
Still, while wellness is a priority for consumers across all countries surveyed, with 78 percent of all consumers saying they are working on more goals tied to health and wellness compared to previous years and 70 percent saying they plan to try a new wellness or fitness activity to improve well-being, Amex’s survey found these goals look different in every region. For example, in the U.S., exercise was revealed as the activity consumers said had the greatest positive impact in supporting mental health, compared to better sleep in the U.K. or human interaction in Canada.
With overall wellness in mind, the survey found that 66 percent of consumers agree that the pandemic has encouraged them to spend more money on items or experiences that help with their overall mental wellness — 60 percent of consumers also agreed that they have spent more on wellness products than they did a year ago.
Notably, these purchases spanned across categories including diet and exercise with vitamins and supplements (39 percent), at-home fitness equipment (31 percent) and organic food (30 percent) as the top three items consumers had spent more money on in the past year.
“It’s important for brands to listen to their customers and understand their needs,” Rafael Mason, senior vice president, U.S. Premium Products and Membership Rewards. “We know that wellness and mindfulness are incredibly important to our card members, whether it’s having the flexibility to workout at home or in the gym or having a better night’s sleep.”
Listening to these consumer needs, American Express has introduced wellness offerings and benefits to its card holders with its partnerships with Calm and Equinox.
Meanwhile, consumers also reported that they are investing in experiences to improve their well-being with 76 percent saying they want to spend more on travel. In fact, 81 percent of consumers said they value the freedom to travel more now than they did prior to the pandemic and 88 percent agree that travel helps them improve mental health.
“Travel is good for the soul,” said Audrey Hendley, president of American Express Travel. “The ability to reconnect with friends and family and experience new cultures through travel is something we can all appreciate now more than ever. Our card members love to travel, and as they get back out there and experience the world again, our role is to provide them with the service, resources and support they need to have a seamless and memorable travel experience no matter where they chose to visit.”
As they plan to travel, 62 percent of consumers said they want to go on vacation to relax and unwind and 55 percent said they would pay extra for wellness activities on future vacations. On these vacations, 53 percent of respondents said they would be most interested in exploring the outdoors — this sentiment is especially seen from respondents in Mexico, Canada and the U.S.