6 Predictions on Amazon as the New Wellness Destination


How Amazon plans to connect all the dots of health

The news about Amazon intending to acquire Whole Foods is no surprise as media rumors have been spreading around in recent weeks. So while most attention is focused on the deal per se, there are some retail strategy fundamentals to consider for the future of Amazon as the new wellness destination.

1) All started by capturing the online platform for health and wellness

There is no doubt that Amazon has increased its business of health and wellness business via online sales of vitamins, supplements, and other wellness products. Although still a relatively small share of all Amazon sales, it is growing fast. Check out this infographic from OneClick Retail. I did a search on probiotics supplements and it turned over 10,000 results! Amazon follows a two prong strategy. On one side, Amazon is allowing hundreds, if not thousands, of small and medium size companies to sell to consumers in a very convenient and direct manner, and most importantly, cost effective. And this is precisely one of the reasons why many smaller players have seen their sales boom against the lower growth rates of bigger established brands from large multinational companies.

2) Launching their own brand in wellness

Amazon is not shy and knowing that health and wellness is now a super hot area to invest in consumer goods, they decided to launch their own line of supplements Elements aiming to capture this fast rising category in fast moving consumer goods. Although the current line consists of a few options, I would not be surprised if this is expanded.

3) The power of the cloud

Amazon is one of the largest providers of cloud services. As such, they have expanded their cloud services to medical practices allowing physicians to set up store fronts to be able to sell their “doctor” brands of vitamins and supplements directly to their patients. As consumers become more concerned about the quality and safety of supplements, many physicians who practice in the wellness space are seeing a good opportunity to boost their income as reimbursement from payers decrease. Moreover, the power of the cloud will allow Amazon one day to be able to store electronic health records (EHRs) and personal health records (PHRs) from wearables and medical monitoring and tracking devices in one convenient place to achieve and effective and less costly healthcare link between practitioners and consumers.

Amazon, Whole Foods.png

4) The retailing of health and wellness clinics

Watch out Walgreens and CVS! The move of Amazon to acquire Whole Foods confirms a trend of grocery retailers to establish their own health and wellness clinics. One example is Hy-Vee, a humble yet growing employee-owned grocery chain in the Midwest US that expanded its Retail Health Clinics this year in partnership with some of the leading health systems in the US such as Mayo Clinic. Back in 2015 Whole Foods had announced the possibility of opening up a retail medical clinic within Whole Foods, but it has not fully materialized. Amazon may potentially reinvigorate the wellness spirit within Whole Foods.

5) Amazon as the new pharmacy

Last month Amazon hinted the intention to possibly play in the online pharmacy business in a news report that has raised eyebrows as it can disrupt the traditional model of pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). Amazon can easily do this quicker if it focuses first on over-the-counter drugs (OTCs), vitamins and supplements while meeting regulatory requirements for prescription (Rx) drugs dispensing.

6) The future vision: Amazon seeks to close the loop of health and wellness

Imagine this: Amazon is a comprehensive and holistic health and wellness destination where consumers will be able to drive and purchase their health. The connected dots of consumer health consist of:

  • Convenient online sales, including mobile
  • Own brand with certified quality, safety and efficacy
  • Artificial intelligence – Echo (Alexa) to provide guidance on health issues supported by their partnership with WebMD
  • Brick-and-mortar presence as health and wellness destination capitalizing on Whole Foods name
  • Virtual pharmacist and healthcare practitioner for consultation and guidance (telemedicine)
  • Integration of health in the cloud – consumers will be able to access all their health records in one convenient place with no hassle

In one word, a beautiful integration of consumer health!

Ali Health via Alibaba is already doing this in China so it will be interesting to see how the two e-commerce titans compete in the world of health and wellness.

Monica Feldman is a Consumer Health Strategist, Group Director of Client Services at Nicholas Hall & Co and a leading voice on global trends related to over-the-counter (OTC) products for preventive health, self-care and the extension of health span.

OTC DASHBOARD: New mobile app!


We’re very excited to announce the launch of a new mobile app for OTC DASHBOARD subscribers, providing instant access on your smartphone to all data and content at a global, regional and country level, tracking all 64 markets that we cover. Subscribers will also find available the latest consumer healthcare news, infographics and ad campaigns, plus the Market Movers and Dates For Your Diary features.

We’re happy to announce the mobile app will be free as part of your existing OTC DASHBOARD subscription package, and no in-app purchases are required. The app is available on both the Android (Google Play) and Apple stores at:

Android: LINK

Apple: LINK

Below is a very quick “how to” guide to getting started with the mobile app:

  1. After downloading the app to your smartphone and logging in to it with the same log-in details that you use for the OTC DASHBOARD website, you will be taken through to the app’s homepage, entitled “OTC Dashboard: News Feed”.
  2. As well as being able to scroll down through the news feed to check recent OTC developments, there are also three main points of navigation on the homepage (see the three red arrows in the three screenshots below). First, and most important, is the triple bar symbol () at the top left, which allows you to navigate through all the various features, including Global Market Overview – press the + button to the right of this for the submenu allowing access to seven areas of content.
  3. Secondly, the triple dot symbol () at the top right allows you to navigate through important app information, including your My OTC DASHBOARD shortcuts (“Dashboard”), as well as allowing you to log out of the app.
  4. Thirdly, and finally, clicking on the globe symbol at the bottom left of the page allows you to select whether you want to view data and content in the market overview section at global, regional or country level (press the + button to select any country within any region).

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 11.27.08.png

Using the same globe symbol, the app allows users to switch between regions and countries while in certain sections of the Global Market Overview, for example Category Watch, but to switch to other features in the submenu, for example from Category Watch to Brand Watch, you will need to use the back button and triple bar symbol () at the top left to navigate. Many of the charts are interactive, allowing you to drill down for further information on a particular country, category, marketer or brand, and giving you access to a huge wealth of information on the global OTC market in just one easy-to-access app.

Please also note that many aspects of the app are interactive, allowing you to explore further. For example, if you click on companies or brands in Company Watch or Brand Watch, you will open a pop-up screen with more trend information.

We hope you enjoy exploring the new OTC DASHBOARD mobile app, and if you have any questions or issues, please feel free to contact one of the team:

Dave Redford: David.Redford@NicholasHall.com

Hannah Burke: Hannah.Burke@NicholasHall.com

NB: Please note that this app requires access to the internet. If WiFi isn’t available, and your cellular data is on, this app will use your cellular connection in order to operate.

#NHOTC17: Day 1


Our 28th European OTC INSIGHT conference, centred on the theme of Making the Most of New Technology, took place in Munich last week. Following Nicholas’ annual overview of the global OTC market, and what’s ahead, there was a packed schedule of presentations on topics including the future of digital OTC and what we see technology providers delivering now and in the future.


Nicholas Hall kicked off proceedings on Day 1

Richard Learwood of PGT Healthcare got our brains into gear on the morning of Day 1 with a thought-provoking discussion on accelerating growth in consumer healthcare, and this was shortly followed by Dr Dennis Ballwieser, of Wort & Bild, who shed some light on the future of partnerships in digital publishing and how digital is affecting the print industry in healthcare.

Leading into the lunch session, Infirst Healthcare’s Manfred Scheske led a thought-provoking session, which showed us how our industry is extremely focused on Strategic Growth and Share Grab, but needs to step up its ambition to shape market conditions and to grow markets. He addressed the increasing number of line extensions, which have successfully grown many big OTC brands, but less and less new products offer meaningful news, and patients and pharmacists and the general public are increasingly irritated and confused by the tidal wave of ‘plus’, ‘forte’, ‘extra’, ‘ultra’, ‘max’, ‘advance’, ‘extra advance’, ‘rapid’, ‘express’, etc.” Certainly food for the mind before we ate our lunch!

After lunch, Alison Hartley from Sanofi got the conference back into swing with a presentation on Digital Excellence, explaining that content is key but distribution is queen! Alison also delved into the many ways that digital has enabled us to do things we wouldn’t have been able to do without digital media.


Alison Hartley focuses on Digital Excellence in OTC

Our very own Monica Feldman also enlightened us on e-connecting the revenue dots, explaining that VIRAL = REVENUE and to have this you must have humour, heart, brains and guts. Trevor Gore of Maestro Consulting took to the stage as our final speaker on Day 1, alongside David Taylor, leading us to contemplate whether technology is helping us or making us addicts? Trevor certainly lifted spirits with his stand up presenting style!


Our Global Director of Client Services, Monica Feldman

Look out for more Dashboard blog content coming soon, including Day 2 of the conference and the Nicholas Hall Awards. As an official announcement now the conference has ended, we hope to see you next year in… Barcelona, for our 29th European OTC conference #NHOTC18.

Nielsen-CHPA Survey on OTC Allergy Trends


Coughing, sneezing, a runny nose and itchy eyes are just some of the symptoms of seasonal or chronic allergies, one of the most common ailments impacting the lives of Americans today, according to a new white paper on Rx-to-OTC allergy switches, produced by Nielsen and the US OTC industry association, Consumer Health Products Association (CHPA).

In 2015, 27.8% of Americans suffered from allergies, which translates to approximately 69 million adults, and 89 million people overall. Since 2009, a number of ingredients, including antihistamines and intranasal steroids that were only available Rx, have now switched to OTC, giving consumers more options to treat their allergies.

While there is abundant data to show that allergy OTC sales have grown significantly owing to the increasing number of brands available, there haven’t been many studies conducted to understand how these Rx-to- OTC switches have benefitted allergy sufferers.

Nielsen’s latest report assesses the consumer benefits of allergy Rx-OTC switches to help gain an understanding of allergy-suffering consumers and how having access to more oral and nasal OTC medications has contributed to their financial and personal wellbeing.

Allergy photo

The survey is made up of data based around allergy patient visits, the number of prescriptions written by month, the costs for each, and corresponding insurance-related costs. Nielsen also provided data on allergy sufferer penetration, their buying behaviour, and how each consumer treats their ailment. 
A survey was also fielded to 2,000 adult allergy sufferers to better understand their treatment routine and overall satisfaction with their medication options.

The report found that more and more Americans are suffering from allergies. Over the time period analysed, the number of individuals who stated that they suffer from allergies has increased. There are approximately 9.7mn more allergy sufferers today than there were
 in 2010.

There has also been a clear shift to OTCs. 
The number of allergy sufferers taking OTCs has increased, while 
at the same time the number of sufferers taking prescription medications has declined. Just as importantly, the report also found that allergy sufferers who take OTCs are highly satisfied with the medication options available to them.

The report is available to download here.

Bion 3 Senior launched in Chile


Last month, Merck KGaA rolled out Bion 3 Senior in Chile. The product – which contains vitamins B, C + D plus minerals, probiotics and ginseng – is a blend specifically tailored to the needs of people aged over 50 years.

The product has previously been advertised on TV using the slogan, “¡Activa tu vitalidad!” (Activate your vitality!), and has also featured in advertorials explaining how the body’s immune function tends to weaken with age.

The latest ad, which came out earlier this month, features a man restoring a motorbike for his mother, who had to give up doing so herself once her son was born. The ad then says “Los soñadores nunca envejecen. Encuentra tu fuerza interior en bion3.cl/senior”, which translates to, “Dreamers never age. Find your inner strength at bion3.cl/senior”. Followed by “Siempre hay tiempo para tus sueños“, meaning “There’s always time for your dreams”.

Nicholas Hall’s report on Healthy Ageing: The Expanding OTC Market for 50+ Consumers explores the existing market for Healthy Ageing OTCs, as well as identifying opportunities for future growth. Taking a detailed look at OTC offerings for 50+ consumers in 12 key markets across the globe, reviewing key brands, sales and strategies, this exclusive report could be groundbreaking for your OTC marketing scheme. For more details, contact ian.crook@NicholasHall.com or CLICK HERE!

Are wearables wearing thin?


The wearables market has had a rollercoaster ride in recent months. This time a year ago analysts were penning multi-billion dollar forecasts for the developers of health trackers and smartwatches. Apple was setting the stakes high, brazenly selling a gold edition of the Apple Watch for US$10,000.

More recently though, once popular fitness tracker brand, Jawbone, confirmed to TechCrunch that it would be leaving the consumer market in order to focus on healthcare providers. Microsoft have also removed its Fitness Band from its online store (although it is still available on Amazon); most significantly they will no longer provide the Band developer kits.

Fitbit remains a leading brand name, and is still very much the heart of the fitness tracker revolution. Fitbit recently acquired one of its rivals, Pebble Watch. However, on the downside, it was reported that the company were making staff cuts and founder James Park said the firm had experienced “softer than expected” sales during the 2016 Christmas period.


Numerous devices claim to measure heart rate, sleep activity and count calories. Counting steps is seemingly the most common use for wearable devices, which has been edifying for many in terms of daily exercise expectations. Recently, though, experts have questioned whether the golden goal of walking 10,000 steps a day is actually worthwhile, and a US study concluded that health trackers did not aid weight loss.

Mr Bryant from Futuresource says many wearables aren’t yet independent enough and rely on being tethered to a smartphone, or replicate functionality, such as step counting, that the handset already has. However, Mr Bryant believes that while wearables may be down, they are not yet out.

“We feel the slowdown is temporary and the market will accelerate this year,” he said. He thinks that improved power, appearance, and mobile pay options could give them a boost alongside a maturing user group.

Wearable Devices will be one of many themes explored at our 28th Annual OTC INSIGHT European Conference & Action Workshop, being held in Munich in just over a month! The wider conference will focus on the theme of Making the Most of New Technology. To reserve one of our final few places, please contact lianne.hill@NicholasHall.com

New advice says eat 10 fruit & veg per day


A study by Imperial College London has suggested we should eat 10 portions of fruit & vegetables a day. The study said that such eating habits could prevent 7.8 million premature deaths each year. The study also identified particular fruit & vegetables that reduced the risk of cancer and heart disease.

A portion counts as 80g (3oz) of fruit or vegetables, which is equal to a small banana, a pear, or three heaped tablespoons of spinach or peas. The findings were based on pooled data on 95 separate studies, involving the eating habits of two million people.

Lower risk of cancer was linked to eating green vegetables such as spinach and kale, yellow vegetables and cauliflower. Lower risk of heart disease and strokes was linked to eating apples, pears, citrus fruits and leafy greens.

The results, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, also assessed the risk of dying before your time. Compared with eating no fruit or veg a day, it showed:

  • 200g cut the risk of cardiovascular disease by 13% while 800g cut the risk by 28%
  • 200g cut the risk of cancer by 4%, while 800g cut the risk by 13%
  • 200g cut the risk of a premature death by 15%, while 800g cut the risk by 31%

Fresh fruit stand with boysenberries, raspberries, cherries and grapes

The researchers do not know if eating even more fruit & vegetables than the newly suggested 10 portions would have even greater health benefits, as there is little evidence out there to review.

Dr Dagfinn Aune, one of the researchers, said: “Fruit & vegetables have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and to boost the health of our blood vessels and immune system.” He continued: “This may be due to the complex network of nutrients they hold, including many antioxidants, which may reduce DNA damage and lead to a reduction in cancer risk.”

However the study also said that the benefits of this would be hard to integrate as many people struggle to even eat the five a day (400g) which is recommended by the World Health Organization. In the UK, only about one in three people eat this recommended portion, showing the huge potential for VMS marketers in terms of targeting their supplements at people that don’t eat their 10 fruit & veg a day.