Consumer health: Exploring market opportunities and challenges - Thoughts from the Centre | Deloitte UK

By Emily May and Dr Aiden Hannah Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions


In recent years, growing consumer willingness to manage their own health, coupled with increasing empowerment and opportunity, has shone a spotlight on the consumer health industry. For example, our Future of Diagnostics report highlighted how the rise of patient consumerisation in Europe has transformed the diagnostic testing landscape, with direct-to-consumer (DTC) testing increasing five-fold from the start of the pandemic and clinicians across Europe seeing patients increasingly engaged with their health. Furthermore, research conducted by PAGB found that 41 per cent of the public say COVID-19 has changed their attitude to the way they access healthcare services and 31 per cent who would not have visited a pharmacy for advice before COVID-19 are now more likely to do so now.1 As part of our current research on the consumer health industry, this week’s blog provides an overview of the current market landscape, including key opportunities and challenges for the future.

The evolution of consumer health and self-care

Although recognised as a growing industry with increasing importance in the health ecosystem, definitions of ‘consumer health’ vary. Broadly, it refers to the decisions and actions that individuals take regarding their health and wellbeing. Increasingly it has become synonymous with ‘self-care’; the conscious and choiceful practice of consumers using or taking a directly accessible product or service they perceive will improve or maintain their health and wellbeing. Crucially, consumer health and self-care empower individuals to look after their own health efficiently and conveniently, in collaboration with health and social care professionals as needed.2

Self-care is not only a crucial contributor to improving access to care and individual health outcomes but has a vital role in ensuring the sustainability of global healthcare systems. However, the first and second editions of the Global Self-Care Federation's (GSCF) ‘Self-Care Readiness Index (SCRI)’, demonstrate that there is a widespread lack of a coherent view of self-care and its benefits, moreover that self-care is not being exploited to its full potential in many countries.3 The GSCF has also published an Economics and Social Value of Self Care report which  estimates that global healthcare systems currently save $120 billion annually as a result of increasing self-care practices, and that is projected to rise to $180 billion by 2030 if the potential of this industry continues to be realised.4

During the first year of the pandemic there was a clear and obvious move among consumers towards prevention and wellness under the banner of ‘self-care’. In 2021, the ‘self-care movement’ really started to gain momentum as these new healthcare habits endured, and companies responded with more wellness options, in some cases, pivoting towards becoming pure self-care players.5 This was galvanised further by World Health Organization (WHO) guidance in June 2021 which recognised the importance of people actively taking decisions for their own health and the health of their loved ones. The new WHO Consolidated Guideline on Self-Care Interventions for Health provides evidence-based recommendations on specific self-care interventions that can help to ensure quality health and well-being, and to promote and protect human rights.6

Today, the industry encompasses a broad spectrum of products, sold via a range of channels (including a shift to e-commerce) aimed at improving the wellbeing of diverse populations across all geographies. However, global variations in regulation, healthcare access and consumer attitudes mean that the maturity and market composition of the consumer health industry vary significantly. Crucially, consumer health products encompass every aspect of health and wellbeing including diagnosis, over the counter treatments, proactive prevention and long-term health promotion.

Consumer health is a fragmented but rapidly growing industry

Currently valued at approximately $500 billion, the global consumer health market is predicted to increase at a CAGR of over 22 per cent to reach over $1000 billion by 2027.7 This overall growth is fuelled by trends such as:

  • the prescription to over the counter (Rx to OTC) drugs switch - increasing demand for and availability of OTC drugs is driving this market segment at an estimated CAGR of 5.6 per cent over the next ten years8
  • consumers are increasingly investing in dietary supplements, vitamins and minerals as a way of increasing immunity and maintaining a healthy lifestyle - in 2022, 1.3 billion packs of vitamins and minerals were bought by consumers in Europe alone9
  • the global digital health market is expected to grow at a CAGR of over 27 per cent from 2022 to 2030, to reach $1.5 trillion in 2030.10 Many digital health technologies are sold direct to the consumer and over 40 per cent of adults now have access to a wearable device capable of measuring at least one health parameter.11

The consumer health industry itself is currently very fragmented, with no single company dominating. Indeed, the top ten players currently hold a 27 per cent share of the market, with the largest player holding just six per cent.12 The rise in demand for consumer health and lack of dominant market players has been met with a shift in business models for several large pharmaceutical companies, who have spun-out their consumer health divisions to cater to the changing needs of the consumer. This separation strategy is increasingly being explored by large corporate players given it enables greater flexibility of focus, the ability to adapt to emerging wellness trends and an opportunity to directly target consumers and retailers.13

The future of health is consumer-driven and prevention-focused

The industry will continue to undergo significant transformation, driven by a shift in focus from reactive ‘symptom’-based models to proactive prevention. This presents an opportunity to deliver an end-to-end consumer journey from preventative healthy living to early diagnosis, treatment and long-term condition management.

Despite the opportunities presented, many challenges remain if this pandemic-era self-care momentum is to be maintained. A November 2022 report by the UK consumer healthcare industry association PAGB found that the number of individuals considering self-care as their first option had declined from 69 per cent in 2021 to 64 per cent in 2022.14 Furthermore, a recent survey of UK adults by the NHS Confederation and Google Health found that although 97 per cent of individuals consider themselves responsible for their health and wellbeing, and 83 per cent currently use technology for their health management, many respondents felt they lacked the confidence, tools and technologies to take control of their health as much as they would like.15

Companies, in partnership with policymakers and healthcare systems, have an important role to play in supporting consumers to make confident and informed decisions about their health. The SCRI has identified four crucial enablers of self-care that markets should address to ensure maximised benefit:

  • stakeholder support and adoption, centred around trust from consumers and healthcare providers
  • consumer and patient empowerment, including health literacy and access to personal health data
  • self-care health policy, recognising the economic value of self-care through reimbursement and incentivisation for example
  • regulatory environment, including approval of Rx-to-OTC switches, advertising, and pricing.16

Linking these enablers is the core concept of trust. Consumer trust in consumer health industry players will be central to their attitudes and purchasing decisions as the industry evolves. Who, what, where and how consumers are influenced will increasingly be based on trusted evidence, with professionals playing a central role in decision making, and regulation evolving to safeguard consumers.


Empowered consumers are increasingly seeking holistic, personalised health solutions that are convenient, transparent and affordable. They also want products that work and are backed by evidence. As the consumer health industry continues to grow and evolve, market players are presented with many opportunities but also many challenges. Fundamentally, companies will need to understand what the health and wellbeing needs of their consumers are, how consumers want to access services and how to ensure access is equitable. In our consumer health research series we will be exploring how companies can grow and maintain their market share in this highly competitive market, by adapting business and operating models to build trust and improve their engagement and relationships with consumers.


With thanks to Shreya Nagpal for her helpful contributions to the research and drafting of this blog.

LSHC blog 13 Jan author 1

Emily May, Assistant Manager, UK Centre for Health Solutions

Emily is an assistant manager in the Centre for Health Solutions where she applies her background in both scientific research and pharmaceutical analytics to produce supported insights for the Life Sciences and Healthcare practice. Emily leads the research and publication of the life sciences insights, performing thorough analysis to find solutions for the challenges impacting the industry and generating predictions for the future. Prior to joining the centre, Emily worked as an Analytical Scientist conducting physical chemistry analysis on early stage drug compounds and previously lived in Antwerp, Belgium where she researched and developed water-based adhesive films.

Email | LinkedIn

LSHC blog 3 Dec author

Aiden Hannah, Research Analyst

Aiden has a background in physics and biomedical engineering, and a strong technical knowledge of diagnostics and digital healthcare. Most recently working as an academic researcher, he undertook a range of multidisciplinary projects involving close collaborations between MedTech companies and clinicians; supporting the development of novel biosensors and low-cost diagnostics, including clinical trial design and conduct. Aiden has focused on the health technology investment pipeline and the medical device regulatory processes as part of his doctorate industry placements.

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