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Consumer healthcare and the pandemic: Trends that will likely drive industry growth

Published on September 29, 2021 by Neha Singh

The value of the consumer healthcare sector grew steadily, at a CAGR of ca 9%, to ca USD332bn in 2020 from ca USD211bn in 2015. According to a Fortune Business Insights study, it is expected to reach USD665bn by 2028, growing at the same rate.

Market growth was driven primarily by rising healthcare costs, an increasing ageing population, the proliferation of wellness-related products and services, more sources of health-related information and consumers’ desire to remain healthy. The pandemic has further accelerated this growth, with consumers turning to preventative care and non-prescription treatment. This growth is also compounded by governments around the world providing greater access to over-the-counter (OTC) drugs to promote self-medication and reduce the burden on healthcare workers and infrastructure as well as struggling public health budgets.

As existing market forces and pandemic-driven changes in consumer behaviour propel the consumer healthcare sector, we take a closer look at the key trends likely to gain traction over the long term.

TREND #1: Rising demand for OTC products

Demand for OTC products has grown over the years. However, the pandemic has caused a major surge in demand for OTC products such as cold and cough medicines, vitamin and mineral tablets and other immunity-boosting products.

According to a 2019 study, the US healthcare sector reported annual savings of up to USD146bn by switching from prescription drugs to OTC medicines and cost savings from reducing clinical visits. According to a 2020 survey, 44% of the industry leaders surveyed, representing the German OTC market, said that OTC brands would see above-average growth in next 2-3 years; these statistics show that although the specifics vary from country to country, the trend is similar across geographies.

TREND #2: Increased focus on mental well-being

Acceptance of mental health issues has been increasing in recent years, specifically in developed nations. However, in developing and underdeveloped countries, people with mental health conditions often experience severe human rights violations and discrimination.

he statistics for mental health conditions are disturbing, and the pandemic has worsened the situation.

On a positive note, the pandemic has broken barriers and created more awareness of mental health issues. Many countries decided to include mental health assistance in their programmes in the past year, and these are being supported by healthcare providers, associations and investors.

TREND #3: Emphasis on self-care and wellness

The concept of wellness and self-care has evolved from focus on just fitness and nutrition to overall physical and mental health and appearance. Today’s consumer is much more concerned about their well-being owing to rising awareness and disposable income, the more options available and the ongoing pandemic. People are paying closer attention to their health and symptoms and adopting new behaviours to minimise risk of transmission due to the pandemic.

Alongside the rising adoption of telehealth, consumers have shown an increasing preference for using digital tools and channels to seek healthcare information and manage their health and wellness, due to the pandemic.

Healthcare companies operating in this space should capitalise on this opportunity to align consumers and healthcare providers.


Consumer behaviour in relation to health continues to evolve, and the pandemic has accelerated this evolution. These trends are likely to amplify growth and create new demand avenues in the sector. Consumers across the world also plan to increase their spending on healthcare. As this continues, recognising the consumer as the central component in the healthcare sector and the rapid incorporation of new and emerging consumer health technologies in daily activities would empower consumers to take more responsibility for their own health.

Similarly, healthcare providers and consumer health companies with an understanding of customer needs and large pools of customer insights are ideally positioned to benefit from these trends.

Going forward, consumers would want partnerships with their healthcare providers and a care experience that exceeds their expectations. However, such partnerships could be achieved only when providers and consumer health companies are aligned with consumer expectations.

How Acuity Knowledge Partners can help:

Leveraging nearly two decades of experience in analysing historical information and predicting trends, we help our clients, including life sciences and healthcare firms, build and strengthen their strategies and business.

We also provide services such as therapy area landscapes, opportunity prioritisation, lifecycle management and go-to-market and market assessment.

For more information on our capabilities, please visit our Life sciences solutions page.













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About the Author

Neha Singh has over 7 years of experience in the research and consulting industry. She currently works in the Strategy Research and Consulting practice at Acuity Knowledge Partners and supports consulting and corporate clients in their research & strategy assignments. She is experienced in customized research related to market & competitive intelligence, market assessment, benchmarking, competitive landscape, market entry & growth strategy, partner identification in addition to others. She has exposure and knowledge of proprietary databases such as Capital IQ, Preqin, Thomson, Orbis and Merger Market.

Prior to Acuity Knowledge Partners, she was working with a..Show More

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