Consumer Health: What to Expect in 2013

As we enter a new year, we review some of the trends that will influence consumer health in 2013.

Innovation is anticipated to bring interesting combination products, especially in the vitamins and dietary supplements category. Traditional multivitamins are being refreshed with formulations that include probiotics, omega fatty acids and/or medicinal herbal ingredients. Yet, these new options can potentially cannibalise the sales of similar products offered by the same company. Why would consumers purchase a separate probiotic supplement when their multivitamin already includes probiotics?

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The industry also expects an added investment in vitamins and dietary supplements resembling foods and beverages as delivery formats shift to more engaging options for consumers. More than ever, the packaged food and beverage industries are expanding their investment in functional foods and beverages that may resemble dietary
supplements (foodstuffs). The line distinguishing supplements from functional foods and drinks is becoming extremely blurry to the point of causing confusion, not only for consumers, but also for regulatory agencies. Strong consumer trends toward natural healthy living feed a lucrative nutritional supplement business model, where pharmaceutical companies, consumer goods companies and ingredients manufacturers seek to grab a slice for profit.

Globalisation trends are taking a different approach toward highly targeted and niche investment opportunities at the local and regional levels, especially in low and middle-income countries. The traditional thinking of a global brand conquering all markets is being replaced by a local adaptation of the global brand via partnerships and business alliances with domestic or regional companies, or through the reformulation of products to include certain active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), botanicals or traditional ingredients relevant in local markets. This trend is particularly strong in Asia Pacific, Africa and Latin America, where long-established medicines and brands are facing a widening marketplace of over-the-counter (OTC) drugs innovation and novel dietary supplement blends imported from North America and Western Europe. Alternatively, the formalisation of traditional medicine continues to move forward as regulatory agencies scrutinise health claims by tightening up their regulatory framework. Companies see this development as another potential opportunity for advancing revenue via the implementation of approved botanicals and traditional ingredients in their standard formulations.

Other ideas that could expand revenue for the industry include a combination of lifestyle and mobile health (mHealth) initiatives. They have become a reality shaping future outcomes in the “extension of health”. Simple treatments for minor ailments are not enough; rather disease prevention and health maintenance are driving consumer health trends. In one example, consumers engaged in regular fitness routines are now being offered “sport” formulations and products in analgesics, wound care, vitamins, dietary supplements and sports nutrition. These consumer health options along with fitness, health and diet tracker digital mobile applications (apps) aim to complement their active lifestyles. Alternatively, the elderly population is being forced to adopt self-care in the mobile environment to keep track of their health, diet, drug adherence, potential drug/food interactions, and virtual recommendations from health practitioners and pharmacists. This innovative health approach in elderly lifestyle is expected to decrease the burden of rising healthcare costs for governments and health organisations as more of the health responsibility shifts to people. Under this view, a combination of health needs and lifestyles will drive innovation in the industry. Consumer health is extending its approach from a simple health solution to a significant driver of good health via lifestyles, yet the inclusion of recent human genome findings could accelerate even more the concept of total customised health in the future.