In September 2011 the International Diabetes Foundation (IDF) launched its first-ever “Global Diabetes Plan,” with a focus of joining forces with the UN’s Non-Communicable Diseases Summit to combat diabetes, cancer, heart and chronic respiratory diseases worldwide. Stateside, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) introduced a new prevention campaign, “Join the Millions in the Fight to Stop Diabetes,” shining a new spotlight on risk factor control.
New cases of adult diabetes in the U.S. continue to be diagnosed at epidemic rates; 1.9 million in 2010 (ADA, 2011). Led by India and China, IDF estimates that 366 million people globally struggle with the disease. In 2010, 22.7 million U.S. households had a member coping with diabetes, according to SymphonyIRI’s 2010 “OTC Medication Report,” which estimated the annual sales potential for diabetes related OTC drugs and supplements at $3.4 billion.
But, while marketing products to America’s 18.8 million diagnosed diabetics is often difficult as they tend to be very Rx dependant, it’s the precursor and risk factor reduction markets that perhaps offer the greatest opportunity. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) report that 79 million U.S. adults are pre-diabetic. Moreover, 35% of men and 33% of women age 20+ have Metabolic Syndrome; 1 in 10 or 2.9 million kids aged 12-19.
High blood glucose is the 4th largest cause of preventable death in America—behind smoking, obesity and high blood pressure (Danaei et. al., PLoS Med. 2009 Apr 28;6(4):e1000058. Epub 2009 Apr 28). High cholesterol, high trans fatty acids, low omega 3s, high sodium, alcohol and low intake of fruits/vegetables all caused fewer deaths compared with high blood glucose.
According to Sloan Trends’ TrendSense model, diabetes reached Mega Market status in 2006 and remains among the largest and fastest growing nutraceutical market opportunities in 2011. Medical Counts have accelerated at an explosive rate throughout the decade with more than 180,000 new research studies published in 2010. Diabetes and children is currently a very large and highly desirable High Level 2/Low Level 3 mass market.
All four diabetes-precursor/risk factors shown below are also enjoying meteoritic growth in Medical Counts, showing strong and growing scientific support for their relationship to diabetes, although their degree of marketability is currently at different levels and lifecycle stages.
Insulin resistance is a large and stable Level 2 mass market opportunity—on par with vitamin D and omega 3s. There is no doubt that loss of insulin sensitivity increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other manifestations of metabolic syndrome. It is a well defined and recognized biomarker that essentially constitutes “healthy blood sugar levels.”
Metabolic Syndrome became a Level 2 mass market in 2007, along with blood sugar control/management in 2010, although they have respectively been a mass market opportunity since 2003 and 2005. While Medical Counts appear to be somewhat lower for blood sugar management than Met X or insulin sensitivity, they are at a respectable 2500 and will maintain a strong Level 2 or very high Level 1 mass market for the foreseeable future.
Pre-diabetes has been flirting with crossing into the Popularization Phases since 2006 and is now perfectly positioned to attract health food/specialty shoppers and very healthy conscious and condition-specific consumers. Marketers focused on these channels should have products and promotional materials in place. The Glycemic Index is also similarly poised as a specialty channel opportunity at this time.