17 November 2020 - Deborah Wilkes
The COVID-19 pandemic has lasted so long that changes in people’s behaviour are likely to continue affecting the consumer healthcare market for the foreseeable future, according to Bayer Consumer Health’s Heiko Schipper, who has just been elected chair of the Global Self-Care Federation (GSCF).
Speaking to OTCToolbox, Schipper says the overall consumer healthcare market is growing more or less at the same rate as before – 3%-4% – but the make-up is totally different. “It is a mixed bag but kind of evens out,” he comments.
Schipper – who is a member of Bayer’s Board of Management and president of the German company’s Consumer Health division – observes that there is a “huge boom” in sales of vitamins, minerals and supplements (VMS), with growth in the “double-digit territory”, but sales of cough and cold products have been affected negatively.
Wearing masks and social distancing doesn’t help the regular cough and cold business, he says, while staying at home reduces exposure to the causes of allergies.
These trends were apparent in Bayer Consumer Health’s financial results for the third quarter of 2020 (click here to read the News story).
Werner Baumann, Bayer's chief executive officer, said the Nutritionals category – which houses VMS brands including Berocca, Elevit, One A Day, Redoxon and Supradyn – had experienced “exceptionally strong growth”.
Nutritionals, which was the largest category for Bayer Consumer Health in the third quarter, recorded sales up by 21.4% on a currency- and portfolio-adjusted basis to EUR313 million (USD370 million). This followed growth of 14.4% in the second quarter and 33.7% in the first quarter.
By contrast, the Allergy & Cold category recorded sales down by 6.8% on a currency- and portfolio-adjusted basis to EUR241 million. The decrease followed a drop of 17.2% in the second quarter.
Overall, Bayer Consumer Health’s worldwide sales increased by 6.2% on a currency- and portfolio-adjusted basis to EUR1.21 billion in the quarter.
A post-vaccine world
Schipper believes the preventive part of the consumer healthcare market will continue to grow “very well” as we enter a post-vaccine world, although “probably not at the same speed as now”.
Two or three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, he says, it would have been easy for people to settle back into their old behaviour. However, the pandemic has now lasted so long that people are really starting to change their behaviour for the longer term.
He adds that this applies to other aspects of life such as the trend towards greater e-commerce. That said, Schipper believes that people probably aren’t going to do quite as much e-commerce as during the COVID-19 pandemic because they enjoy going to stores and they enjoy talking to pharmacists and other retail staff.