Euromonitor, the market research provider, took a long look at the state of the market from 2007 to 2012 and found, among other insights, that the Malaysian government’s policy to highlight the country’s fast-growing obesity issue through a range of campaigns, consumers had become more aware of the condition and made greater commitment to losing weight by exercising more or consuming weight-management products.
Five years ago, consumers spent almost RM2bn (US$614m) on consumer health products, including vitamins and dietary supplements, weight management products and herbal and traditional products. Out of this, vitamins and dietary supplements was the largest category, with RM1.13bn (US$350m) in sales.
However, the total amount had increased to RM3.15bn (US$970m) by 2012, with vitamins and dietary supplements accounting for a compound value growth of 43% to RN1.62bn (US$500m) over the five years.
Moreover, the Euromonitor report suggested that increasingly sophisticated consumers were more confident in self-medicating with over-the-counter products, and would refer to educational sources to learn more about the usage and effects of OTC remedies. Over the five-year period of the research, OTC purchases grew from RM589m (US$184m) to RM725 (US$223m), representing a total value growth of over 23%.
“OTC players such as GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare responded to the increased confidence in self-medicating by launching new, systemic analgesics with higher efficacy and caffeine, named Panadol Extra during 2012. Hectic working lives have further induced consumers to self-medicate minor ailments rather than take time out to see a doctor,” the report highlighted.
International brands still on top
Indeed, consumers showed a preference towards international products over domestic ones, perceiving the former to be of better quality. Amway’s Nutralite range was the only product to secure a double-digit market share over the study period, although this declined from 11.3% in 2009 to 10.5 last year. Conversely, Herbalife’s fortunes grew from 7.4% to a 10.8% share of the market.
Local players were relatively weaker compared to their international counterparts in term of resources, which limited marketing and product innovations. As a result, local companies faced great challenges in building consumers’ brand awareness with their limited advertising and innovations.
Looking ahead, consumer health is anticipated to maintain its positive performance up to at least 2017, with consumers growing confident in self-medication with the aid of OTC products, the report predicted.
“Urban consumers are increasingly fashionable and image conscious and more concerned about improving their appearance and body shape by opting for weight management product or nutritive drinks which are positioned as beauty boosters,” it said, pointing to total growth predictions for weight management products at close to 50%.
“Besides that, given that organic food, vegetarianism and veganism were growing in popularity among consumers towards the end of the review period, consumers are likely to increase demand for consumer health and opt for natural remedies like herbal/traditional products.”