Healthcare at your fingertips

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Ankit Garg, Co-Founder & CEO, Wakefit, gives an insight on how online access to health and fitness products are facilitating healthier lifestyles for consumers

Over the past decade and a half, technology has facilitated a 180-degree shift in the ways individuals and brands communicate. Out of all the industries that have gone the digital way, the clear winner emerging out of this technological revolution is probably the consumer products segment. Brands across multiple sectors have been racing ahead to capitalise on this unique selling opportunity.

A few segments like healthcare and e-commerce, for instance, have combined forces to create an entirely unique business model driven by a rapidly growing demographic of health and fitness-conscious consumers. The market has responded to their efforts; the demand for online health and fitness products and services has witnessed massive growth in the last five years. Revenue from online sales of healthcare products between 2012 and 2015, as a result, rose from Rs 77.1 crore to Rs 507.5 crore, growing at a CAGR of 87.4 per cent.

The proliferation of information through online channels has empowered consumers more than ever before. Reaching out to and engaging with these new-age and tech-savvy consumers requires effective offerings targeted towards improving physical fitness and health among consumers. Many start-ups providing unique healthcare-related services or products, as a result, have been able to make headway into the consumer market, either through proprietary platforms or e-commerce websites.

Some of these innovative healthcare consumer products are as follows:

  • Basic medical devices: Although the medical devices market in India is much smaller than it is abroad, the sector has been steadily growing and is poised for double-digit growth in the next ten years. Affordable devices like blood pressure monitors, blood sugar monitors, weighing machines, steam machines etc. are becoming easily available on online marketplaces, allowing consumers to conveniently keep a check on their key health metrics on a daily basis.
  • Sleep products: There’s a multitude of products in the market today to help sleep-deprived people get those peaceful hours of shut-eye without having to rely on medication. Customised spine support mattresses, designed by understanding your sleep posture and specific requirements, are now available with leading players in the segment. These mattresses help you sleep better and prevent back problems that usually arise due to bad sleeping posture. Cervical pillows offer adequate support to your neck while sleeping to help avoid neck pains. Some companies are also offering contour neck pillows made from memory foam, which mould according to your body shape for the greatest comfort.
  • Nutrition: With people becoming increasingly aware of their dietary requirements, nutrition products for sports and fitness are rising in popularity. Products like protein supplements, fibre supplements, meal replacement, and omega-3 and vitamin supplements are being consumed by fitness lovers in ever-increasing quantities. Expecting mothers have also been opting for such products to provide their children with all the essential nutrients needed for adequate mental and physical development.
  • Personal care: Having been around for decades, the personal care product segment has exploded into several sub-categories such as personal hygiene, intimate care, cosmetics, hair and skin care, etc. The rising demand for organic products has also resulted in the growth of start-ups offering products in these categories and more through online marketplaces. The demand for Ayurveda products such as weight gain/loss supplements, cosmetics, etc. has also grown significantly in the country.
  • Wearables: Wearable technologies have evolved from simply being fashion accessories to helping people actively keep track of their health and fitness. Wearable products like watches are now designed to measure a person’s heart rate and blood pressure, and store this information on a cloud-based platform. These wearables can also be synchronised with smartphones to receive immediate medical assistance in case of emergencies.

With the degree of smartphone penetration across the globe, it is no surprise that there’s an app for nearly everything now. Start-ups in the digital healthcare segment are engaging with consumers through apps and are facilitating online access to healthcare services and products, which until a few years ago could only be availed offline. With healthcare apps that enable online interactions with doctors and medical professionals through text or video, patients can benefit from quick remote diagnosis without having to step out of their homes. While the market is at a fairly nascent stage currently, with the rising internet and smartphone penetration across the country, it won’t be too long when consumers across geographies and demographics can achieve healthier lifestyles.