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Wellness Industry In India: What Does The Future Hold?

The Make in India initiative is expected to bring in more investments and opportunities in this sector

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The wellness industry in India has rapidly evolved from being a highly unstructured ecosystem in the 90s to a more active and growing sector today. With health and wellness being becoming mainstream, this industry expects a massive boom in the coming years. Recent estimates by FICCI and EY suggest that the industry will grow at a CAGR of nearly 12% for the next 5 years, and reach an estimated high of Rs 1.5 trillion by 2020. Rise in disposable incomes and increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases are some factors driving this growth.

Wellness refers to complete well-being that goes beyond any disease-free neutral point - in body, mind, and spirit. India is known as the land of Ayurveda, yoga, and alternative medicines, branches that have evolved through the years. However, they aren't accustomed to giving much credence to wellness. We have had a tendency towards sick-care and treatment versus preventive care and maintenance of overall well-being. Some part of this is driven by the fact that the health insurance policies do not target wellness but hospitalization and treatment. Over the last few years, there has been a paradigm shift in this trend, spurred by youngsters in their 20s and 30s becoming more conscious. They not only want to look good but feel good too, and this has led to a  focus on eating, working and living healthy. Everything from diet, weight, physical activities, and sleep can now be tracked and tuned. The result? An influx of gyms, fitness apps, and other such technologies to help achieve these fitness goals.

Mental wellbeing, also a crucial component of wellness has been brushed under the carpet for too long. Thanks to work and life stresses, today's generation is highly prone to anxiety and stress related issues.  Recently, there has been lot more visibility to this area and youngsters and people in the 30s and 40s are now actively seeking help to address these concerns. This is a welcome change and I am hopeful that the stigma attached to mental health is removed and people treat is on the same footing as a physical health issue.

All these factors present significant opportunities for startups and businesses in the area of overall wellness with new models disrupting this sector. One major trend we're seeing is consumer-centricity, with on-demand and customization being key factors. Wellness players are shifting their focus to more personalized products and services. Wellness-based apps, for instance, have been one of the fastest-growing categories offering anytime-anywhere information tailored to the user's profile. The on-demand assumption also means wellness is now served at home or at work - wherever users wish to have these delivered to them. This is likely to move towards a more predictive approach enabled by AI.

In the last couple of years, there is an increased availability of wellness and health services at home.  Diagnostic tests or chronic disease management, fitness and healthy food delivered at home, all these ensure that staying fit and well is made much easier and excuses are fewer.

Another significant trend that is likely to see a rise, is new product development. Tracking personalised user information through apps and smart devices has opened up possibilities for more novel and tailored products such as wellness-goal-based diet charts and allergen-free meals. Demand for such products has been on the rise, and this is reflected in related offerings such as gluten-free cereal or cold pressed juices. Your workout routine, your five square meals a day, even your sleep schedule can be customized to your BMI, lifestyle, individual health markers and more!

At a business level, we will see developments such as corporate tie-ups as well as mergers and acquisitions playing a bigger role in paving opportunities and building efficiencies in the Indian wellness market in 2018 and beyond.

In conclusion
The government is also making a push for programmes promoting the wellness industry in India. The Make in India initiative is expected to bring in more investments and opportunities in this sector. The Ministry of AYUSH with a separate department for Yoga, which has been exempted from service tax, is another example. Increasingly, many investors and incubators have begun to offer their support and are mentoring startups in the wellness space.

The famous American academic Michael Porter coined a term called 'Value Based Health care', where impact is measured based on standardized health outcomes as against costs over the lifetime of a patient. Such an approach is further supported by the wave of digitization, technology penetration and big data generation. The need of the hour is a concerted effort by both private and government bodies to consolidate the sector further and convert business potential to maximum benefit for the people, with an eye for efficiency.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Meena Ganesh

The author is MD & CEO, Portea Medical

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