As the covid-19 pandemic evolves, consumer health companies are seeing an uptick in demand for preventive and immunity-boosting products, said Sandeep Verma, country head, India, Bayer Consumer Health division. He also talked about the company’s plans in consumer health, the industry’s trajectory during the pandemic, and the way forward. Edited excerpts from an interview:

How has the consumer health industry performed during the pandemic?

Overall, the industry growth during the pandemic has largely come about from the nutrition category, especially the immunity segment, with the increase in demand for immunity-boosting products. In general, the pandemic has heightened the focus on health and nutrition, particularly in line with ensuring adequate immunity and energy levels to tackle present-day health challenges. It has changed the way in which consumers seek care, with individuals now increasingly opting for self-care solutions so they can take charge of their health. One challenge that the industry needs to work on more, is to also provide consumers with better quality of information which can lead to more responsible self-care.

As we are trying to leverage this higher health awareness and the greater need to find self-care solutions, we are also trying to provide consumers with the best quality information which can lead to better choices. Both our re-launches are steps in that direction of combining the right products with the right information. We will also continue to work on bringing innovations in digital technology that can transform self-care by empowering people to maintain and improve their health. Widespread adoption of technology gives people the information, support and convenience they need to manage their health more proactively. Digitalization can thus be leveraged to provide individuals high-quality health information.

What are Bayer’s expansion plans for the consumer health division in the country?

The Bayer Consumer Health division was launched in the midst of the pandemic in India with a vision to empower the transformation of everyday health so that 1.4 billion Indians can pursue their dreams. Bayer Consumer Health aims to reach 100 million households over the next five years in India. Our brands are already reaching roughly 40 million consumers, so the plan is to more than double this reach and expand access for both the urban as well as rural consumers.

India is one of Bayer Consumer Health’s top four priority markets in the world. With our newly launched Consumer Health Division here, we plan to grow our business by enhancing access to the best self-care products in the world for all Indians. Today, India stands eighth in the OTC market rankings and is the fastest-growing market globally. We believe that by 2029, India will become one of the top three markets in the world. Our vision for the country is to empower the transformation of everyday health by supporting 1.4 billion Indians to pursue their dreams and continue making India incredible.

The launch of the Consumer Health Division in India in May 2021 has received an immensely positive response from the consumers. In India, the division currently offers 10 brands, with segments focused on pain management, nutrition, dermatology, and allergy. We will be driving these four categories as our major focus areas in the coming years. We aim to drive our expansion via a digital-led approach and increased accessibility by making the product available at multiple touchpoints. Our goal is to leverage our portfolio in both the urban and rural markets with a focus on enhancing accessibility, crafting new products, and also raising awareness on self-care. Over the next five years, Bayer aspires to expand access to everyday health and reach 100 million households in India with our self-care products.

How is Bayer aiding the fight against covid-19?

The pandemic has drastically reset our priorities. Consumers in India are becoming increasingly health-conscious and proactive about their health, both in terms of prompt treatment of existing conditions and preventive treatment to boost immunity and wellness. However, to enable effective self-care, there is a need to provide reliable health information as well as innovative OTC products catering to daily health needs.

Two big needs have emerged during the pandemic amongst the consumers in India. Firstly, the level of stress has increased a lot and so have the stress-induced headaches. Secondly, the need to build our immunity and energy levels and proactively protect ourselves is a lot higher now. In order to meet these evolved healthcare needs, we have recently relaunched our core brands Saridon and Supradyn.

Saridon, the headache relief solution, relaunched with Sar Dard Chupao Nahi, Mitao positioning itself as the first line of defence for relieving headaches. The genesis of the campaign lies in its category first insight that, young adults today face frequent stress-induced headaches caused by the increase in responsibilities and associated factors like WFH-led screen time increase, financial stress, etc. However, they choose to silently suffer from the pain instead of acting on it.

Supradyn was relaunched with an improved formulation containing 5X Zinc and 12 essential vitamins for greater energy and immunity…an average Indian diet meets only up to 70% of one’s daily nutrition requirement, according to nine out of 10 doctors and nutritionists from urban India as per a recent survey conducted by us.

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