As long as you’re healthy

January 2013

Only a few weeks of the New Year have gone by, but be honest – did you keep your New Year’s resolutions? Have your jogging shoes already been tossed back in the cupboard? Did you light a cigarette after all? Has work taken priority over family again? Some decide to avoid failing to keep resolutions by not even making them to begin with. However, the majority of Germans do decide to give up a few of their bad habits when the clock strikes twelve. As was the case last year, health is still top of the list of resolutions.

In future, 35% of Germans intend to live so that illness is kept at bay. Although this value is four percentage points lower than in the previous year, ‘health’ is still the number one New Year’s resolution. In addition to the general intention to improve physical wellbeing (16%), 11% of respondents see the New Year as the starting pistol for their new personal fitness regime. They want to play more sports and generally be more active. This is a finding from a survey on plans and resolutions for the New Year for which GfK Marktforschung questioned almost 2,000 Germans on behalf of GfK Verein in December 2012. The survey question was left open allowing respondents to freely name any resolutions without prompts or restrictions. Only 5% had not given the matter any thought, while one in three decided to start 2013 without making any resolutions.

Healthy with their nearest and dearest

Quite a few Germans hope that they will not only improve their fitness, but also see a positive change when they hop on the scales in the morning. Following the indulgence in Christmas dinners, mince pies and mulled wine, 7% of Germans intend to lose weight and go through 2013 a few pounds lighter. A similar percentage plan to finally give up smoking and 1% want to cut down their drinking, as well as occasionally not having any alcohol at all. For 2%, eating habits have been targeted and they intend to have a healthier diet this year. Furthermore, 15% think that family and friends have been neglected somewhat and intend to focus on nurturing those relationships. Germans particularly want to spend more time with family (9%) and friends (2%), while 3% hope to have children. Around 1% expressed the desire to establish a more harmonious family life. The overall issue of ‘private life’ is therefore second in the rankings, pushing all areas relating to work and education into third place.

Career success, but no stress

The perfect work-life balance – this sums up consumers’ hopes and desires. While 13% of respondents intend to finish school with good qualifications, start their training and be successful in their careers, the same percentage intend to take things a little more slowly, with lower levels of stress (4%) and more ‘me time’ (5%). They want to enjoy life (3%) and work less (2%). What better way to do this than to go on vacation. Vacations/leisure time was on the list of resolutions for 5% of respondents. This issue remains where it was a year ago, in fifth place, although the percentage did drop slightly from 8% in 2012. Lastly, 5% of Germans have specifically decided to invest in their home or a new car.

East Germans: health top priority

The differences between East and West Germany are less pronounced than in the previous year. While the desire for better career prospects was significantly higher in the East in 2012, a similar percentage of respondents now name this issue in both regions of Germany (East: 15%; West: 13%). East Germans are, however, in the lead when it comes to doing more for their health, with 38% planning to become more active, improve their diet and generally make a positive change to their health. In the West, only 34% say the same. All in all, skepticism about New Year’s resolutions seems to be higher in West Germany. While almost one in three from Munich to Hamburg have not made any resolutions, in the East only around a quarter are starting 2013 without any good intentions.

Old and young: health versus career

As in the previous year, the wishes and resolutions of men and women are relatively similar. While women consider health and weight to be a slightly higher priority, men focus on making purchases such as a new car or renovating their homes. The differences are much more pronounced when taking the age of respondents into account. Physical wellbeing clearly becomes ever more important with increasing age. Of those aged over 65, 45% want to improve their health, while only 21% of those under 25 say the same. The wish to reduce stress also rises with age, reaching 17% for those aged 50 to 64, who already have many working years behind them. Younger Germans rarely think about such issues and are instead driven to do well in their education and career. In 2013, 45% of those aged under 25 want to get on the right track for their careers. For a third of this age group, this means first achieving good grades at school.

Good intentions: another chance in February

What becomes of those who break their resolutions after just a few weeks? The good news is that if they need a particular date to motivate them, they do not have to wait until next December to make a fresh start. With the celebration of the Chinese New Year on 10 February, there is another chance to keep the resolutions.


Data source: GfK Verein

If you have any queries concerning this article, or any further queries regarding GfK Compact, please contact Claudia Gaspar from GfK Verein: tel. +49 911 395-2624, claudia.gaspar@gfk-verein.org.