Spiritually undernourished and seeking connection, a growing wave of soul-searchers are in pursuit of meaning.
The Great Secularization. A decades-long trend, there has been a steady shift away from organized faith. As of last December, 29% of US adults say they have no religious affiliation, a 6% increase since 2016.
At the same time, the pandemic has exacerbated our isolation — over 60% of young adults report feeling “serious loneliness,” and trust in social institutions is at an all-time low.
Now, prioritizing holistic well-being, younger generations are unbundling spirituality from the cathedral, looking for the divine without the devout.
Spiritual concierge. Across the country, high-end apartments are offering spiritual concierges as an amenity. Available via email or phone, they can help residents book everything from yoga retreats to sound baths to shaman-led ceremonies.
Put me in coach. Promising a sense of purpose, a growing number of life coaches and spiritual directors are providing a path forward for the directionless. The personal growth coaching market is now worth over a billion dollars, and startups are cashing in. Coaching marketplace platform Guidely just raised $4M.
Look to the stars. A source of meaning, many have turned to the cosmos, adopting astrology as a guide. Discussing horoscopes provides connection and a chance to self-reflect, and investors have funneled funds to apps like Co–Star ($15M) and Sanctuary ($3M). The former has been downloaded by a quarter of all young women aged 18–25 in the US.
Virtual reverend. Religion isn’t completely out of the picture. Faith-based apps have seen nearly 30x growth in VC funding since 2016, topping $175M last year.
- Catholic prayer app Hallow raised a $40M Series B last November, including backing from Peter Thiel, Drive Capital, and more.
- Christian meditation app Glorify landed a $40M Series A in December in a raise led by a16z.
But… where some see nouveau spirituality, others see dollar signs by commoditizing these belief networks. And many have noted that the movement’s most loyal disciples are higher-class individuals, ones who can already afford the pricey ceremonies, retreats, and coaches.
Punchline: Grappling with loneliness, anxiety, and a lack of meaning, younger generations are seeking solace, embracing spirituality as a cornerstone of well-being. Whether this can be achieved digitally remains to be seen.