Boomtime for consumer health sector

Market research company Euromonitor International says the global consumer health industry is on a roll.

According to research released overnight, the consumer health industry experienced a 5.7 per cent growth (current/fixed currency terms) totalling US$216.4 billion in retail sales globally in 2014.

Over-the-counter (OTC) remedies such as sleep aids, eye care, dermatologicals and digestive remedies performed very well with US$36 billion in sales globally.

Sports nutrition grew strongly in the mass market with US$10 billion in sales globally, yet still represents the smallest category within the consumer health industry at just 4.7 per cent.

“The industry keeps growing at a healthy pace as significant corporate consolidation will transform the competitive landscape and the rise of mobile health will impact consumer behavior in years to come,” said head of industry research, Monica Feldman.

Latin America posted the fastest growth at seven per cent year on year, with US$20 billion in sales in 2014 as more remedies became available to consumers in the OTC setting.

The Middle East and Africa followed with six per cent and US$7.3 billion, respectively, where regional initiatives for local manufacturing boosted affordable options for consumers.

Although Eastern Europe shows an apparent decline of one per cent in sales due to problems in Russia and Ukraine, Euromonitor said this result was relative as sales in Russia are not underperforming when viewed in local currency.

Direct shipping to China is becoming a key strategy of growth for foreign players given the complexities of the retailing space in consumer health. US warehouse club player Costco has reported early success in Chinese sales through its new partnership with Alibaba (Tmall).

Costco sells and ships vitamins and dietary supplements to Chinese consumers using the Tmall platform.

Alternatively, US-based online retailer Vitacost partnered with the Chinese delivery service company SF Express (Shunfeng Express) to ship directly US made vitamins and dietary supplements to Chinese consumers who are concerned with purchasing high quality and certified vitamins and dietary supplements. According to Vitacost, shipping costs start at US$10.99 for four pounds, making it relatively affordable to a larger base of middle-income consumers in China.

“From the consumer perspective, mobile health, or mHealth is engaging consumers via mobile apps and devices with the purpose to modify behavior toward improved health outcomes. This in turn will create new possibilities for OTC switches in novel therapeutic categories,” said Euromonitor.

To learn more about the consumer health market read more on the Euromonitor research here.


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