White Paper on the Complementary and Alternative Medical Sector


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Susan Wallace is the marketing strategist for the Health and Wellness sector of the economy. She also teaches strategic hypnotherapy to diploma level at Hypnotherapy Business Academy. She is the principle of Results Academy where she helps talented therapists embrace digital marketing so they can educate and inspire potential clients to take action and get the support they need.

Complementary and Alternative Medical Sector Report by Susan Wallace, Digital Marketing Strategist, Graduate for Carlow Institute of Technology, Masters of Science programme.


The Growth of the Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) Business Sector




“Avoidance of chronic diseases as a responsibility of the consumer” is the key message coming from governments and health agencies around the world.

Major investment from government agencies are overseeing initiatives to educate young adults and an ageing population on ways to prevent disease.  The key message is that “regardless of age, it is important to make positive changes in our habits and our lifestyles to help protect our health and prevent disease”.

The four top diseases that threaten our health all come from problems that can be prevented by our own daily actions.  These are:

  1. Cardiovascular Disease
  2. Cancer
  3. Chronic Respiratory Disease and
  4. Diabetes

An active lifestyle supported by a healthy diet and developing habits that support our health are key ways to prevent disease as we being to age.




The Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) is a fast growing industry with strong growth predicted worldwide within the next ten years.  It is forecast that an integrated medicine model, one that incorporates complementary therapies into conventional medical practice will become the new model for health care in the future.  (Consumer Health – Trends, Developments and Prospects – World, Global Briefing 27 April, 2010.   Euromonitor Report)

Preventative health measures against chronic diseases drives spending in the market.  The shift is on the consumer to take responsibility to prevent disease tomorrow by taking preventative actions now.


Despite of or perhaps because of, the rise in heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes the consumer health market continues to grow at a very healthy rate.  Strong growth is predicted in the sector for the next ten years.  The recent global recession did little to affect the growth in consumer health products with only a 10% reduction affecting the UK market.

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has introduced an integrated medical model with over fifteen Complementary and Alternative Medical (CAM) therapies approved for bedside visits in all UK NHS hospitals.


Problem Definition

The biggest threats to our health and wellbeing stems from diseases that are associated with unhealthy lifestyles.  Self-care is widely accepted as the best way to prevent problems later in life.

In order of global and local importance they are—

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cancer
  • Chronic Respiratory disease
  • Diabetes

Considering that all governments worldwide are initiating programmes to help address the diseases listed above then it seems logical that the CAM sector must also play its part.

The drive from government agencies and initiatives from health care institutions such as the NHS in the UK and the Health Boards around the world are increasingly placing emphasis on self-care.  The aim of government agencies is to drastically reduce the spending on healthcare.  Government health expenditure continues to rise at an alarming rate.  Governments are developing strategies to deal with the growing problems of an ageing population, chronic disease especially those caused by obesity and tobacco/nicotine consumption and heart health.

CAM medicine has very strong support from health professionals.  However, concerns about lack of scientific evidence can make consumers cautious.  A survey by Key Note in the UK, found that 62% of consumers in the UK are willing to try CAM if they knew it was regulated, and if treatment was passed as safe and effective.

To address this issue, all CAM therapists attending patients in NHS hospitals must be part of a recognised national register and must be part of the stringent regulatory procedures that have been adopted by the sector in the past ten years.

Over the Counter (OTC) Healthcare is a US$98.0 billion industry worldwide.  Vitamins and Dietary supplements take a US$84.5 billion share of the market.

Weight Management takes an annual share of US$4.3 billion.

OTC is an emerging category with strong growth trends predicted.

Growing obesity problems worldwide will drive the OTC obesity market.  However it is predicted that consumers will “demand proof of efficacy and testimonies before parting with their money.” (Owning Health Euromonitor Report)

Helping consumers make decisions about OTC remedies to treat an illness is key to taking greater market share.  The supermarkets are currently leading the way with in-store chemists and larger floor space for health related products and a policy that provides staff being accessible to offer advice to help with decision-making.

CAM therapists are likely to lose market share to supermarkets if this problem isn’t adequately addressed.

Customer segments

Three segments have been identified, namely children, adults and the elderly.

Younger consumers are more willing to try ‘rapid relief’ formulas.  Older consumers preferring ‘herbal/traditional remedies’.

Although we are faced with a global aging population, life expectancy continues to rise.  Although governments are taking action to prevent illness, it isn’t just governments that will pay the cost of treating disease in later life, the burden will also fall on the younger generation who will be taxed heavily to pay the cost associated with old age and degenerative illness.

However, it is this ageing population that continues to drive growth in the CAM and OTC market segments.


Where do they shop?

  • Health, Beauty, Chemist and Specialist Retailers have well over 50% of the market share.
  • Modern Grocery Supermarkets are beginning to gain significant ground with a growing 30% share. They have broadened their scope to include more channels and to capitalise on the strengthening revenue streams from over the counter (OTC) purchases.
  • Direct Selling, Internet, traditional mixed retailers, share a much smaller combined 10% segment of the market.


Doctor Google

Consumer confidence has been shook in traditional medicine and more people are now self-diagnosing and self-treating symptoms.  The rise in the use of Doctor Google yields mixed results as consumers can often become more anxious about symptoms when Dr Google suggests a more serious problem than what they have in reality.

The trend for using search engines for self-diagnosing continues to rise and the opportunity for the CAM sector to intercept consumers at this point has largely gone un-noticed by the CAM sector.  Localised services offering tailored solutions to consumers medical pain-points seems like an obvious solution to this growing trend.

There is no singular website in the UK or Ireland that is ranked on page one of Google consistently for consumer search queries for medical symptoms.   Taking advantage of the ranking opportunity would be relatively easy at this moment in time.

Robo Nurses


A Robo Nurses concept is being researched and developed by a team of researchers at Warwick University in the UK.  The project called iWARD (Intelligent Robot Swarm for Attendance, Recognition, Cleaning and Delivery), will aim to provide a tem of robots to work alongside human staff in UK hospitals by the year 2020.


The CAM sector of the economy could take advantage of this development and iWARD could also offer digital products such as positive thinking, self-hypnosis, mindfulness and meditation downloadable services to patients who are suffering with chronic pain, melancholy, sleeplessness, fatigue, loss of appetite and a host of other common ailments associated with medical care in busy hospitals.  Opportunities surrounding sponsorship of iWARD could be explored.


Overview of Report Findings, Forecasts and Trends


  • Generic medicine has become an important threat to major pharmaceuticals.
  • Product placement with investment in packaging that displays validated scientific benefits and clear instructions has been predicted to increase market share with a growing ageing population.
  • Modern supermarkets impose a growing threat on pharmacies.
  • Likewise supermarkets will impose a growing threat on the CAM sector when they expand the range of digital products to alleviate symptoms.
  • Dr Google is becoming the accessible replacement for the High Street Doctor.
  • iWard robots will begin to influence hospital care.
  • Preference is on preventative medicine in key market spaces such as obesity, cardio-vascular disease, cancer and respiratory disease.
  • Three key trends are emerging in Europe. Namely self-pampering, self-discipline and self-medication are predicted to have strong growth over the next ten years.


Advantages to CAM Sector

All trends predict that the time is right for the CAM sector to intercept the use of the internet to alleviate problems.  Instead of using Dr Google people can be encouraged to find localised, personalised services from health care professionals.

All trends predict that the time is right for the CAM sector to begin to design, develop and deliver on-line products to support preventative action around the four main problem areas.

As well as delivering products in the on-line space, Beside the Counter product placement in Supermarkets, Grocery Retailers, Pharmacies and Specialist Shops would be key to achieving increased market share and growth for the CAM sector.

The most researched and validated “talking therapies” to build on-line digitalised products are:


  1. Hypnotherapy
  2. Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Therapy (MBSR)
  3. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

These three talking therapies have the potential to produce unique products to help manage the symptoms of a wide range of common medical challenges.  Furthermore, they all provide excellent support in the prevention of the top four diseases; Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, Chronic Respiratory Disease and Diabetes.

For example, CBT and Hypnotherapy offer different approaches to help people reduce and give up smoking and vaping, ensuring greater respiratory health.

Hypnotherapy and CBT combined has been validated in a significant number of studies to help people lose weight and maintain a healthy diet.  Thus helping prevent and manage diabetes and maintain cardiovascular health.

MBSR has been proven to be extremely effective in managing and reducing stress and in relapse prevention in substance addictions (such as nicotine and food addiction) and non-substance addictions such as gambling.

The provision of highly informative digital therapy products that offer both practical advice coupled with techniques to manage the symptoms of discomfort associated with specific problems as well as addressing the underlying issue could be of great benefit and significance to the CAM sector.

Whilst large pharmaceutical companies target the physical symptoms of chronic diseases, very little action is taken on preventative care.

Hypnotherapy, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can offer psychological support in the preventive phase, the symptom phase and the relapse phase.

Teaching people how to improve their health by using their mind to plan in advance, develop a positive self-image, manage emotional issues that can lead to ‘risky’ behaviours and understanding how our actions today influence our health tomorrow are key benefits that Hypnotherapy, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can bring to support the government initiative in self-care and disease prevention.



Great opportunities exist in our sector of the economy. As therapists we are on the front line to help people claim ownership of their health.  Our marketing messages should be designed to energise and inspire people to take action and to improve their health and well-being through their personal development. Educational marketing can inform people about the effectiveness of the therapy we offer.  The message needs to be clear ‘we can help you improve your health, fitness and well-being.’

However many therapists struggle with the concept of marketing and lack structure in their approach towards marketing their services.  Many therapists feel they are going around in circles and they don’t get clients from their social media activities and adverting spend. Therapists need to have a clear line of sight between their marketing efforts and their client numbers.  Until they have an effective marketing strategy it is likely that they will continue to over spend on advertising and waste valuable time that would be better employed working with their clients.


List of Complementary and Alternative Medical Therapy


  1. Alexander Technique
  2. Aromatherapy
  3. Bowen Therapy
  4. Craniosacral Therapy
  5. Healing
  6. Hypnotherapy
  7. Massage Therapy
  8. Microsystems Acupuncture
  9. Naturopathy
  10. Nutritional Therapy
  11. Reflexology
  12. Reiki
  13. Shiatsu
  14. Sports Therapy
  15. Yoga Therapy

Source:  http://www.cnhc.org.uk/index.cfm?page_id=86


Euromonitor Research Consumer Lifestyles in Ireland


Brief overview of other relevant research and insights in the Irish market.


  • Over half adult population has a smart phone
  • Social network particularly Facebook is very popular with over 65% of the adult population users
  • Restaurants encouraging Instagram users to upload photos of meals
  • Obesity rising rapidly in children – calorie dense foodstuff
  • Government public health priority


Customer Segment – Mid-lifers from 49 to 59


  • 831,000 in 2013.
  • Average income €33,993
  • Better financial health than the 30’s age bracket.
  • Alcohol trend continues to rise with idle aged women increased risk of dying as a result of alcohol-related conditions
  • Difficult for mid-lifers to save money – income drastically reduces 50% no longer contribute to their pension funds
  • Many are trying to unlock pension
  • Pension liberation isn’t an option unless serious illness dictates
  • They are in the main computer literate
  • Less than 1/3rd save regularly
  • Reduced disposable income (potential to offer educational training to train to increase disposable income)
  • Pay off dept (debt free training)
  • 70% of Irish Women visit hairdresser or beautician more than six times a year (Pembroke Communications, 2013) (consider placing advertisements in hairdressers)
  • Vintage make a fashion out of necessity
  • “Cash strapped patients turn to Dr Goolge” often causing unnecessary worry
  • Irish newspapers feed on obesity stories. Fat toddlers.
  • Adult obesity costs the state in excess of €1billion per annum, Dr Sinead Murphy expects it to rise exponentially unless childhood obesity is addressed.
  • 8% of Irish seven year olds are obese (Irish Independent 2013)
  • Average daily intake of calories for adults is 3,628 (way over recommended amount)
  • Very little physical exercise is undertaken
  • 2012 Smoking. Men 24% Women 23%
  • 19% girls 16% boys aged 16 – 19 smoke in 2012
  • We consumer over 3,600 calorie per day. 23% adults smoke

The Relevance of Marketing Automation to the project.  Research and Trends

Every SME including the CAM sector needs marketing that is automated so that therapists can spend less time reaching new clients and more time treating new clients.  Automating the routine tasks of marketing is one of the most effective ways to regularly reach new client segments and convert visitors into enquiries and enquiries into new clients.  Below is a synopsis of the most up-to-date research on marketing automation.  However, marketing automation services are expensive and fall outside of the budget of most SMEs.  Additionally most therapists only need three pieces of software to automate their marketing processes.


By 2020 customers will manage 85% of their relationships without talking to a human.

(Source, Gartner Predicts, 2011)

Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads. (Marketing Automation by the Numbers, The Annuitas Group)

67% of B2B marketers that use lead nurturing see a 10% or greater increase in sales opportunities throughout the funnel; 15% see opportunities increase by 30% or more.   "The 2014 Lead Nurturing Benchmarking Study", DemandGen, 2014

Marketers who have adopted marketing automation suggest that the biggest benefits are:

  • Taking repetitive tasks out of marketers’ hands, so they can work on other projects (36%)
  • Better targeting their prospects and existing customers (30%)
  • Improving customer experience (10%)
  • Better email marketing (9%)
  • Reduction of human error (8%)
  • Lead management (4%)
  • Multichannel marketing (3%)

(Redeye and TFM&A Insights "The Marketing Automation Report 2014")

CMOs at top-performing companies indicate that their most compelling reason for implementing marketing automation is to increase revenue (79%) and get higher quality leads (76%).

(Gleanster, Q3 2013 Gleanster Marketing Automation Benchmark, 2013)

75% of companies using marketing automation see ROI in just 12 months

(Focus Research, 2013)


About Susan Wallace


Susan Wallace is the marketing strategist for the Health and Wellness sector of the economy.  She also teaches strategic hypnotherapy to diploma level at Hypnotherapy Business Academy.  She is the principle of Results Academy where she helps talented therapists make an impact and an income.


In order to be successful the left and right brain must work together.  This is represented by the X and the O which are the most opposite of letters but together stand for the ‘cross over’ between being a great therapist and a successful one.


The journey has many dips and bumps, corners and curves along the way.  Susan’s role is to smooth out the rough edges and help therapists find their niche, develop their expertise and deliver fantastic value to their clients.


Susan offers a range of free CPD courses to health professionals. All courses count as valid points by all major professional associations.

You can enrol on a free course by visiting www.resultsxo.com



Consumer Lifestyles in Ireland, Passport, Euromonitor International, November 2013

European consumers as DIY Doctors and Self-Treaters, Passport, Article, 13 Oct 2008

Consumer Health – Trends, Developments and Prospects – World, Global Briefing 27 April, 2010.   Euromonitor.

Owning Health.  The Move Towards Self Care and the Implications for Marketers.  Euromonitor Report.

Consumer Health – Trends, Developments and Prospects – World, Global Briefing 27 April, 2010.   Euromonitor.