Podcast

Lauren Stiebing 05 October 2020

How Covid-19 Has Changed Self-care For The Better With Bas Vorsteveld

Everything that has been going on in the world this year has put Self-care at the center of many discussions. For this reason, we have decided to invite Bas Vorsteveld, VP Commercial Excellence EMEA at GSK, who has worked in the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, Luxemburg, France, and the UK, to this episode of the Career Success Podcast.

He will explain to us how the growing consumer interest in his/her own health, and the one of their friends and family, is changing the way OTC products are sold and how much this is helping the development of Self-care all around the world.

Topics Covered:

  1. What is Self-care?
  2. How is Self-care developing in different regions?
  3. How can consumers find the right information about Self-care online?
  4. How will Self-care develop in the future?

If you would like to check out this conversation in video, please follow this link

Lauren

Wellness and self-care have been trending topics for years now, and COVID -19 has only accelerated this trend. I am Lauren Stiebing and welcome to this episode of the career success podcast. Today we are joined by the VP Commercial Excellence EMEA at GSK, Bas Vorsteveld. Bas is an energizing broadly experienced General Manager, with a proven track record to lead and engage team to grow the business faster than competition. He has experience in several industries across FMCG, OTC and Consultancy in the Netherlands, Portugal, Belgium, and Luxemburg. Thank you for joining us today Bas!

Lauren

Hi Bas, how are you doing today?

 

Bas

Yeah, I’m very well, thank you. How are you?

 

Lauren

Yeah, doing fine, thanks.

 

Lauren

So yeah, excited to jump into this topic, I mean, you know, everything that’s been going on in the world this year has put self-care as a topic and as a trend, the center of a lot of conversations. So, what are some of the latest trends that you’ve seen this year in self-care?

Bas

Yeah, thank you for that question. It has been an exciting year for all of us. And I think maybe before I start explaining about that one, it’s good to express what is self-care.

 

Lauren

Sure.

 

Bas

I think when I talk about self-care, I think I see these people trying to improve their health, but they use price for that where they don’t need to get a prescription. So that could be categories like OTC medicines, but as well as vitamins. So, what we have been seeing over the last few years, this category has been growing a lot, because people are getting older. And as you get older, you’ll get minor illnesses, it could be muscle pain, or arthritis, for example. And there are a lot of solutions available in these categories, and various manufacturers are trying to find solutions for. What we see as well that consumers want to take more control over their own health, so about 75% nowadays said, okay, I want to be more in charge of myself, my own health. So what are the solutions, the everyday solutions on that part? And that’s the part where we trying to play in, of course. Now you’ll see, of course, with COVID, the whole discussion accelerated. I had some interviews over the last few months, we did a kind of consumer emergent with all the leadership teams within GSK, talking to consumers. And what struck me over, there were consumers we’re not only talking about their self anymore but also much more interested in the health of their friends or their family

 

Lauren

Okay.

 

Bas

Especially related to COVID. And they want to be sure that their parents were healthy, what could they do in that way, and as well, what can I do to prevent, to be still healthy? So, categories like vitamins have been exploding over the last few months. And then if you look a bit from the government perspective, as well, there have been starting to become much more interested in self-care, because this is normally not a category that’s interesting for them, but they see that using self-care in a different way it can relieve the pressure on the system. And am not sure if you had to go to a doctor lately, it’s really hard to get in because a lot of people want to make an appointment, but with COVID there are a lot of restrictions. We already have seen in some western European countries that there was massive pressure on the doctor, COVID only accelerated. So, what you see over there is that consumers started to think, what can I do differently? How can I still manage my own health? How can I get access to the information? And digital has been exploding, and one of the things with COVID that has been really changing, I think overall for, not only for self-care but for a lot of categories, digital in self-care made a massive change. And some people say 10 years in a few months.

 

Lauren

Okay.

 

Bas

People were not normally buying a lot of OTC products online. The last few months it has been moving tremendously, meaning that our customers were starting to reach out and help me out, how do I get the right information online? How can I sell online? How do I connect with this consumer online? And as well, you start governments to think through okay, what would be our policies around that one? Should we change something in that way? And a last point, I think also very interesting is the economic value of this self-care category. In US they did some calculation that every dollar spent on self-care, saved in $7 in the total system, because people do not need to go to the doctor anymore and it will cost money.

 

Lauren

Sure.

 

Bas

And more prescriptions will go out. The excess or two more product for a consumer will mean that some categories, for example, stop smoking, they used to be prescribed in the past. Nowadays, you can get it in most countries in Europe, just at the pharmacist. This category doubled the number of people using these products.

 

Lauren

Okay.

 

Bas

And that is important because we want people to stop smoking, but then we also know that normally not the first time they are succeeding because they’re mentally not ready.

 

Lauren

Yeah.

 

Bas

And there was this kind of trigger, if I first have to go to the doctor again, then he might see that I didn’t see it. So by giving this excess for products where we know that they’re safe to use, we have seen big changes.

 

Lauren

So for you then self-care is everything over the counter, and then once it gets to prescription then it is professional care, which I think varies a bit from country to country. And yeah, that’s my next question, just, you know, how you’ve seen self-care in the different regions, so from Asia to US to Europe, in terms of how developed it is and how quickly it’s developed since COVID.

 

Bas

Yeah, let me start with Europe already. Within Europe, every country has its own health system.

 

Lauren

Yeah.

 

Bas

So, we don’t have one Europe. So, it can be that when you go to a pharmacy in Belgium, you could get a product, for example, if you have nasal decongestion, you can buy it over there. If you go 10 kilometers further on, and you are in France, it’s not available for you, you need to go to the doctor.

 

Lauren

Okay.

 

Bas

So the access to products and the way governments look at self care is very differently, and depending on the health care system in that country, and I think there’s a massive opportunity and discussions we’re having as well with the governments in Europe, can we give more access to consumers to take care of their own health? So when you compared that to the US, this market you have much more access, and much more products are switched. because they have seen there’s no risk for the consumer when you start using it yourself. If you get good advice, either you get the advice from a pharmacist, or maybe getting the information online. And if you look at Asia, that system, again, also depending by country, in Asia you have also differences by country. You see in India, for example, 52% of the population is really depending on OTC and that’s their first way to go to because they don’t directly have access to doctors, for example. So big difference, our difference I would say, amongst all the regions we have, and especially for Europe, big opportunities as well. To think through how we can give consumers access to the products they need if they want to work in their own health, and to really take better care of themselves.

 

Lauren

And how do, you know, as consumers, how do we find the right information versus the wrong information? Is there websites from the governments currently or when you go to the web, what would we find?

 

Bas

Yeah, no, I think that there’s a big challenge, when you go to the web you can find anything.

 

Lauren

Yeah.

 

Bas

Most things around OTCs are pretty well organized. So, every country has a set up either by self regulation or by government that you can’t just claim anything around an OTC product. So, if you want to get the right advice, you need to go to a random manufacturer, to a retailer, if retailers are able to sell OTCs in a country, or to pharmacist and this information is there. It’s always important for consumers they realize that they go to precisely that part, and really working closely with governments to pay attention that, not that there were not information coming up online, that is not claimed the right thing. So I think we’re, especially we’re, let me talk about Europe in that part, because I have the experience for having worked in different countries, that has been pretty well organized. As well, when we see things online as manufacturers that are not correct, we can call it out and there is a system to go after it. Of course, where you have online, there are so many things nowadays with fake news popping up it’s harder to manage. So, I think there is an educational part towards consumers, where do you find the right information? Of course, you always have to pharmacies where you can get the right information you are assured. And that’s where we’re spending a lot of effort as well to educate our pharmacists, have with the latest information on solutions they have available. When you come into a pharmacy or drugstore, that when you go there, that information is available in shelf, for example, that the packaging is clear. So there’s a lot of work as manufacturers we’re working on. But it’s something we need to pay attention with the world and online where you can put anything.

Lauren

Sure, sure. And how do you see self-care overall developing as we go into the future?

 

Bas

It’s a really interesting category. I guess people are getting older on the one hand, so to get we are growing, that’s what we can take from all fast moving consumer goods category, so it’s always nice to work in an environment where there’s growth, where you see that people are really profiting from that as well, and you don’t need to have a cold for eight weeks, for eight days, and being decongested you can have a solution directly.

 

Lauren

Yeah.

 

Bas

So as well, I see the number of letters we’re getting from consumers, how happy they are if we solve one of the issues, they want to be more in control, and what you see as well, they’re more and more they start to understand that there are solutions for the problems. So that’s really nice, we can still build more penetration, getting more people into this category, helping them to take care better of themselves and to be healthier. If you look at the environment currently with COVID, it centrally for people, people want to be healthy, they want to take care of themselves. There are a lot of innovations happening right now if you link to tech as well.

Lauren

Yeah.

 

Bas

Medical devices, we work a lot with flu trackers, for example, hay fever, if you have hay fever, and you see in the morning already your app telling you, hey, today is again a tough day, it’s better to spray one time, you go out instead of realizing myself of hay fever, sometimes I’m out and realizing this is not a good day for me.

 

Lauren

Yeah.

 

Bas

So you can be proactive on that one. We see that governments will start giving more access to products that have proven themselves safe to be used, so that the access will increase for people all around Europe, partly because it will help the governments to relieve the pressure on the system, so that doctors can really spend time to, if you have a problem, if you have cancer, you wanna be helped quickly and not have to wait for a few weeks, so that the minor illnesses will move more towards the pharmacist, thanks to this access, and as well directly helping them to save cost. And I think last part is, that is really important is information and education around these categories, how to prevent that you go online, and you’ll find things that are absolutely not true.

 

Lauren

Yeah.

 

Bas

How can we help consumers to go to trusted environments and that could be? Government-related websites like the NHS, for example, in the UK, branded websites that are all on the control from the government so that consumers really have the access where they wanna be. So I think have worked now in this industry for 14 years, it’s an incredibly interesting industry, it’s growing, a lot of things are happening, health is more and more important. You really make a difference on a daily basis to the consumers.

 

Lauren

Yeah.

 

Bas

So, you have impacts, I see a lot of young people joining as well nowadays, in our industry because they want to work somewhere with a purpose. This is the industry where you can make a difference.

 

Lauren

Yeah. Well Bas, thank you so

much for sharing this. I can feel your passion and energy for it, and I appreciate you coming on our podcast today.

 

Bas

Thanks for inviting me and it is good to be here.