[India MSME Summit 2021] How the COVID-19 pandemic marked a new era for the Indian health supplement industry

At YourStory’s third annual India MSME Summit 2021, health supplement industry experts reveal how the pandemic has increased the demand for health supplements products and paved the way for future growth.
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The year 2020 brought a new era to the Indian wellness industry. Increasing awareness about boosting one’s immunity, digitisation, and the shift to alternate and organic supplements as preventive healthcare measures proved to be the game changers for both Indian and foreign health supplements brands in India.

In a video interaction during YourStory’s India MSME Summit 2021, Ketan Ganu, COO and Director of Netsurf Network; Vijayraghavan Venugopal, Co-Founder and CEO,Fast & Up; and Pallav Bihani, Founder, Boldfit, explained how the pandemic brought effective changes in the segment, and changed the future of the health supplement industry in India. 

New markets

Talking about how the health supplement industry grew last year, Ketan says before the pandemic, the health supplement industry was limited to Tier 1 cities. However, during the first wave of COVID-19, the demand for these supplements increasingly came from Tier II and III regions as well.

“The thought process on nutrition has changed quite a bit in the last one year,'' says Vijayraghavan, adding that a lot more companies have come to the forefront to talk about nutrition. "People have also proactively looked for better options, and that provided a much-needed boost to the industry.  For the entrepreneurs in our industry, things have expedited by four to five years."

Pallav agreed that the pandemic acted as a catalyst for the industry. He said, “Earlier people had a mindset that nutritional supplements were only essential for gym-goers and bodybuilders, but in the last year, everyone in our country must have had at least one vitamin C pill to boost immunity. Now people do understand that deficiencies are common, but they need to be addressed, and also that lifestyle changes need to be adopted.”

Traditional vs online

The panel also discussed how small businesses can win the online battle given the presence of many players. Vijayraghavan and Ketan opined that now that the market is open, there are no entry barriers, and in fact, it is easier for many small players to build an online business to explore the market. 

According to Pallav, selling online gives you a lot of freedom to market your product, but the product has to be great in the first place to gain maximum benefits from the sales channel. 

The way ahead

In this day and age of personal nutrition, the demand for personalised nutrition is even more. Personalised nutrition can be defined as the science of developing unique nutrition guidelines for each individual. Leveraging technology to understand the customer will be the key in the future, according to Ketan and Vijayraghavan. 

“The health and fitness industry has not even had a proper start in India,'' says Pallav, adding that it will grow exponentially in the next five to ten years.

Edited by Anju Narayanan