May 19, 2024 - Business

The booming business of eternal youth

Illustration of a hand mirror shaped like an infinity symbol and surrounded by stars.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Consumers, especially the rich, are spending big on the colossal, growing longevity industry — spas, food subscriptions, gym memberships and pills.

Why it matters: The wellness industry is worth nearly $500 billion in the U.S. and $2 trillion globally, McKinsey says. But there's a growing gap between what's available to wealthy consumers and everyone else.

  • Many new offerings come at sky-high prices.

By the numbers: 82% of American consumers now say wellness is a top priority in their everyday lives, McKinsey found. And the cost of keeping up with supplements and spa sessions is rising.

  • Per capita spending on wellness in North America is $5,108, Bloomberg reports. In Europe, it's just $1,596.
  • Wellness podcasters, including Peter Attia ("maximizing longevity"), have built massive followings. Startups are feeding the appetite for longevity products.

State of play: The wellness market is doubling down on rich customers with exclusive, luxury, hyper-personalized offerings, according to the Global Wellness Institute, an industry research group.

Zoom in: Then there's an even higher tier — Silicon Valley billionaires chasing the fountain of youth.

  • Entrepreneur and venture capitalist Bryan Johnson famously spends $2 million a year on health and longevity on treatments, including weekly acid peels and blood transfusions from his teenage son.
  • He eats a strict vegan diet, does daily meticulously planned workouts and takes near-constant blood, stool and urine tests to monitor his health, Bloomberg's Ashlee Vance reports.
  • Johnson's rigorous routine is extreme. But he's not alone in pursuing eternal youth: Tech titans Sam Altman, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg have all invested millions in anti-aging startups.

What to watch: Just as today's young adults care more about the effects of alcohol and processed sugar than their parents did, the next generation will go even deeper, says Michael Lustgarten, a physiologist and host of a YouTube channel on longevity.

  • As more people have access to personalized fitness data through phones, watches and rings, look for tailored workouts and diets to gain popularity.

"This is the evolution of health and fitness," he says.

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