FUTURE OF HEALTHCARE
ALANKAR SAXENA | October 25, 2021
In today's uber-fast-paced world, the human race, in general, has gotten highly comfortable running on all cylinders in the rat race of life, especially people in India. Our country is a land where opportunities are aplenty, and competition is ever-present, which makes every day life so tedious and constant that taking a breather is something that people can rarely afford. This has led to increasing cases of anxiety, depression, high blood pressure and insomnia. These cases rose to such high numbers that it gave way to one of India’s most prominent industry sectors: The Wellness Industry.
Though the industry captured global attention between 2015 and 2017, a study conducted by McKinsey & Company found that the wellness industry is currently valued at $1.5 trillion globally. This sudden boom can be attributed to the realisation that it is more important to remain healthy than getting healthy. Furthermore, the report, produced after analysing 7500 consumers in six countries (including India), has offered keen insights into consumer behaviour. When it comes to wellness consumers, their trends can be grouped into six categories:
Health: People are now investing in many remote medical devices that can constantly monitor their state of well-being. With the increase in popularity in digital wearables, telemedicine, and remote patient monitoring services, this trend is bound to increase.
Fitness: People are exercising more. Whether it’s jogging, going to the gym, investing in a pedometer, FitBit, etc., there has been a steady increase in people exercising more.
Nutrition: Dieting has always been a significant part of being healthy. An increase in dietary food, supplements, nutrition coaches can be observed in recent years.
Aesthetics: With a major chunk of India’s youth population getting invested in their social media, notably the pictures that they post, aesthetic well-being has seen a sharp increase. This includes investments in specific Athleisure clothing apparel (Nike, Addidas, Puma), skincare products (collagen supplements, face masks), and plastic surgery.
Sleep: Burning the midnight oil is counterproductive. There has been a steady increase in consumers willing to invest in sleep medications, specialised mobile applications that track their sleep and the state of their sleep, ASMR generating devices, White noise devices, and other products that can enable a consumer to maintain a healthy sleep cycle.
Mindfulness: Introspection, understanding the body and its processes to the molecular level, and figuring out ways to implement clarity of thought and methods for improving focus have been huge draws for the wellness industry. Furthermore, with central government’s schemes like AYUSH and the introduction of International Day of Yoga by the United Nations, this particular trend has seen enormous growth.
Impact of these trends on the future of Indian wellness industry
Organic Products: According to APEDA, India has become one of the largest producers of organic products. A growing number are actively investing monthly in organically grown produce, meat that is organically processed, oil that is wood-pressed or cold-pressed, cosmetics made from organic materials, and clothes made from pure cotton instead of manufactured materials. People becoming more conscious of what they put in their bodies has led to a steady increase in organic shops across India.
Exercise, Dieting & Nutritional Supplements: From using simple Calcium supplements and energy drinks to adhering to a strict diet regimen, today’s consumers are genuinely worried about falling sick. This has led to an increase in purchasing supplements. Another trend can be observed where an increasing number of consumers have started buying vitamin, Zinc, and iron tablets, to shore up immunity. Furthermore, Indians have begun consuming gluten-free cereal, cold-pressed juices, Kale products, Avocados, and other food products recommended to be healthier alternatives. Indians have also become BMI-conscious, and an increasing number of them have started to invest in gyms, yoga/cardio classes, exercise-wear, sports wearables, and other products that can enable a person to work out more effectively.
Constant Increasing Demand for Oxygen: Even before the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, getting access to 99% breathable oxygen has pure oxygen was a necessity considering the rising concerns of pollution in Indian cities. As per the ‘World Air Quality Report, 2020’ prepared by Swiss organisation, IQAir, 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India, with Delhi being ranked as the most polluted capital city globally.
Moreover, people who indulge in extreme physical workouts exercise, or suffer from high-altitude sickness, need oxygen handy to maintain their wellbeing. In India, prominent wellness companies like UCS Wellness Pvt Ltd have made significant strides to ensure that every individual has access to oxygen through their innovative specially outfitted 18-litre aluminium-bottled oxygen cans of 18 litres under their brand gO2therapy. With the pollution rate showing no signs of slowing down, and the steady increase in demand for oxygen, it would be no surprise to find every household medical kit fitted with a portable oxygen cylinder.
Transitioning to Digital Platforms: With the increase in popularity of Telemedicine and Remote-patient monitoring, healthcare and the wellness industry are gaining an aggressive online presence. There are many online exercises/online videos, fitness apps, meditation apps, motivational apps, power coaches, and so much more. Indians find it easier to use these online tools combined with a digital wearable to keep their well-being in the best of conditions.
Investing in Social Media Influencers: With the increase in online dependence, the voice of social media influencers is soon to be gospel when it comes to maintaining a fit body and healthy mind. Much like how mainstream celebrities endorse various products, the wellness industry has seen great rewards in deploying online influencers to support their products. Typical examples can include a famous workout specialist advertises particular apparel, gadget, energy drink, or brand of Whey Protein distributors as part of their video.
Alternatives to Allopathy: In the Indian market, the wellness industry has seen a shift in paradigm where an increasing number of consumers opt for Siddha, or Ayurveda substitutes, instead of conventional medicine. This is seen more in the age group of 40+. This particular age group has patients with a long history of high BP, high cholesterol, and other ailments that require continuous monitoring and medication. They feel that the healthier choice is in traditional medicine or treatments like Panchakarma, Ayurveda, or Siddha. Conventional medication provides them with little to no side effects, which is the primary reason for its increasing popularity.
India is expected to become a wellness hub in the global community following a 12% growth per annum. The Make in India initiative is expected to bring in more investments and opportunities in this sector. The Ministry of AYUSH, with a separate department for Yoga, has been exempted from service tax. A budget of around ?3,400 crores has also been earmarked to be spent over the next five years to help set up and strengthen Ayush Wellness Centers under the National Ayush Mission. This has sparked an increase in startups and businesses focusing on the wellness sector.
Meanwhile, the global pandemic is also giving rise to a new consumer behaviour called wellness rebound where they are becoming more health-conscious and striving towards regaining their health soon after recovering from an illness. Considering the aftermath of the pandemic, the aggressive implementation of technology, and the constant consumer market in India, it can be inferred that the wellness industry will evolve and expand further with little to no backslide. Read More