Latest research from MINTEL* finds that the explosion of health problems in the UK and a changing doctor-patient relationship has lead to an impressive 40% increase in sales of self-diagnostics** since 2000. With the market now valued at a substantial ?68 million, this rapid growth is expected to continue and sales are forecast to rise by a further 38% by 2010 to some ?94 million.
"Obesity is a huge and increasing problem in the UK today, with levels of Type II diabetes rising sharply and this, along with the growing prevalence and awareness of physiological conditions, has created a real need for self-diagnostics," comments Claire Birks, consumer analyst at MINTEL.
"The changing nature and interaction between doctor and patient has also encouraged consumers to increasingly take responsibility for their own health. Indeed, over 80% of people now say that they have to be really ill before they go to the doctor and empowered with a plethora of advice from the Internet, many British are relying much more on themselves for self-diagnosis. What is more, consumers are becoming much more time-stressed and a visit to their doctor is no longer seen, by some, as a positive return on investment in terms of time, effort and energy. All this has fundamentally altered the dynamics of the doctor-patient relationship," adds Claire Birks.
Today, it is the blood pressure monitors (BPM) sector that has experienced the fastest growth since 2000 and sales of BPMs almost doubled in value between 2002 and 2004 to ?18 million. By the end of 2005 this sector will be worth almost ?22 million or some 32% of the self diagnostics market. Despite a distinct fall in the average selling price, strong growth has been maintained through the sheer availability of the product and through demand. Indeed, measuring blood pressure has become increasingly popular, with some 15% of adults monitoring their blood pressure last year, compared to just 6% in 1999.
Pregnancy testing kits account for the bulk (53%) of the self diagnostics market, with sales standing at around ?36 million in 2005 but this stronghold on the market is set to slip away and by 2010 pregnancy tests will make up nearer 42% of the market. The remainder of the market is made up of ovulation tests (9%) and blood glucose monitors (7%).
Despite the growing market, a significant body of consumers are still unaware or sceptical with regard to self-diagnostic devices. According to MINTEL's consumer research some 45% of British adults have never used a self-monitoring device - not even a thermometer.
Market puts young to the test
MINTEL’s exclusive research reveals that it is younger Brits who have a much more positive attitude towards home testing than older adults. They seem to be adopting a more holistic approach to health and well-being and are much more readily prepared to diagnose themselves rather than visit the doctor. Indeed, while as many as 71% of over 65 year olds would rather go for tests at the doctor's surgery or local hospital than use self diagnostics, fewer than half (46%) of 25 - 34 year olds feel this way.
"Younger consumers have grown up in an era of greater personal empowerment and are clearly much more prepared to take responsibility for their own health. Increasingly, as they look to maximise their personal productivity, many may well value the immediacy and expediency of self-diagnostic devices over and above booking a doctor's appointment, which may well involve taking half a morning off and then waiting days for the test results," comments Claire Birks.
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