The time is now. Today we need to envision a new paradigm for health and wellness, shifting our focus away from the incessant buzz of health apps and revolving diet cycles, and toward the fundamental element that unites and fosters wellness across cultures and people: community.
Whether it’s a shared perspective, common aesthetic, geographical proximity, or allegiance, these community networks exist to prove that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts. The bonds that hold us together are reflected in Mind, Body, Community, VICE Insights’ latest deep dive into the world of health and wellness. In it, Millennials and Gen Z echo a resounding truth: A foundation of community is essential for a life full of vibrant health and wellness. In fact, 7 in 10 say that aspects of community, including having strong support systems, making time for people that matter, and engaging in meaningful experiences are essential to being healthy; and 2 in 3 say these same aspects have become more important to their lives today compared to the past.
For young people, it’s the idea and promise of community that helped so many of them grow in recent years. We learned in our latest pandemic tracking study, The Great Vibe Shift, that 4 in 10 made resolutions focused on connection in the last three years, like creating more meaningful relationships, focusing more on their love life, being more connected with their community — resolutions they still uphold today.
The new wellness is something that reaches its full potential through those in our orbit, and in order to guarantee young people a chance at a healthy future, we need to understand the role of community in their lives, amplify how shared connections can bring positive change, and redefine how we can best help nurture and grow similar collective foundations for generations to come.
COMMUNITY IS THE PROMISE OF CONNECTION
Community is driven by the desire to connect. Our latest deep dive into the world of TV and movies (The Function of Entertainment) tells us that what’s driving young people to screens is not just the quality of content, it’s the opportunity to step into the shared ecosystems surrounding entertainment: 1 in 2 say that connecting with others about a show/movie — whether IRL or on social media — is important to them. The pull of connection is even stronger for Gen Z, as 46% say they are willing to pay a premium for a streaming service if it allows them to watch with friends/family (+12 ppts. vs. Millennials). And as we learned in our Gaming research (conducted in partnership with Razorfish), 6 in 10 Gen Z gamers are using virtual spaces to develop new and strengthen existing relationships.
A night out is no longer just about the high, it’s about the connection. In our Drinking Redrafted study, 6 in 10 youth say what’s most important when going out is a setting that promotes new and meaningful connections. As more and more young people experiment with versions of sobriety, it’s clear that nights on the town are less about forgetting their worries and more about fostering meaningful moments within shared spaces.
In our Culture of Trust study, 76% of young people say they explore culture to feel part of a community, grounding themselves in the connections that increase their overall quality of life.
HOW BRANDS CAN HELP:
BUILD SPACES FOR CONNECTIONS
Celebrate the power of connection in all forms. By building spaces devoted to a sense of togetherness, brands can empower their audiences/communities to take on modern life confidently, with their peers by their side.
COMMUNITY IS HOW WE CREATE CHANGE
Navigating the twists and turns of 2023 demands a readiness for the unprecedented. From climate upheavals to global conflicts, the modern era seems hell-bent on outdoing itself. Amid the global hustle to avert catastrophe, fostering positive growth through our nearest and dearest has become increasingly crucial.
One of the most magical parts about community is the strength of bonds and the collective might that surfaces when those shared beliefs and values are threatened by external forces. Whether it’s calling out Twitter (ahem, X…) on its precipitous dive in ad quality or rebuking Amazon’s attempts to shutter a beloved photography community, the power of like-minded individuals rallying for the greater good is undeniable. Underpinning our march toward a future of progress is the strength of collective action. From Hollywood to the Big Three auto manufacturers, bosses are hearing from the unified voice of communities working together with a singular goal: a more stable and ultimately healthy future.
This wave of collective action is sweeping through all aspects of life for young people. Activism isn’t just acts of protest, as many of them continue to build upon their values through volunteering. Six in 10 report having volunteered in the past year, primarily in the social sector, engaging in teaching/tutoring or community development, as well as in healthcare, mostly working with the elderly or counseling (Source: VMG Communities, Weekly Pulses, 2023). Young people are determined to push for what they believe in as they seek a better life — they are architects of community and they’re bringing others along for the fight.
HOW BRANDS CAN HELP:
BE AN ALLY FOR EXISTING COMMUNITIES
As brand leaders, invest in communities large and small that exist within your organization. Give more opportunity to volunteer and recognize work being done by employees for employees (and others).
COMMUNITY IS HOW WE UNDERSTAND OUR HEALTH
Young people are seeking out community and prioritizing connections over rugged individualism — and they’re doing so because being part of these groups has an overwhelmingly positive impact on their mental and physical well-being. The work starts here.
Whether it’s due to lack of representation, systemic muting, or social isolation, not everyone has the means to cultivate connections. As a result, they’re often missing out on an important tenet of modern life: the ability to grow stronger through the support of friends, peers, and neighbors. In fact, half of young people feel that well-being is a luxury reserved for the wealthy, with this sentiment amplified among women (+7 ppts.). These inequities are felt most strongly in communities of color. As these groups navigate issues that span from lack of access to quality affordable healthcare to disparities in diagnosis, only 1 in 5 BIPOC folks agree there is enough diversity/representation in the health content they see online, and only 1 in 10 agree that there is enough diversity/representation in the medical field.
While systemic healthcare issues may seem too big to tackle, informative, expert-backed health and wellness content can help bridge the gap. Four in 10 say a sense of community is important in the health-related content they consume, and that the best health and wellness content makes them feel less alone (71%), more capable (67%), and more informed (66%). We need to do our jobs by promoting health and wellness content that welcomes all, where young people can learn, exchange ideas, and collectively thrive.
HOW BRANDS CAN HELP:
CHAMPION HEALTHCARE ACCESS
Support the public by producing informative, expert-backed health and wellness content that is accessible to everyone and spotlight organizations who are actively working to provide equitable healthcare solutions, especially in underserved communities. Give a voice to those who make healthcare accessible, and in turn, make your audience healthier.