The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the first two years of a child’s life; the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends it for at least the first year. Even though breastfeeding rates are on the rise globally, a rise in the number of working women means that less than half this number are still breastfeeding their baby at six months.
Contemporary mothers, as heavily invested in their careers as in their babies, find themselves extremely pressured to breastfeed. These mothers – who constantly hear the mantra ‘breast is best’ – make up the major target audience for breast pump manufacturing companies.
The global breast pumps market is expected to exceed more than US$ 3.0 billion by 2022 growing at a CAGR of more than 8.5 per cent from 2015 to 2022. Innovative breast pump technologies and growing awareness regarding the advantages of breast feeding are driving this market, as much as employed women.
Government initiatives and awareness programs providing potential growth opportunities and innovations such as hand free pumps are expected to give a further fillip to demand for breast pumps in the future.
Players like Medela, taking advantage of growth opportunities are expanding their global reach, foraying outside of the US and Europe and entering largely virgin territories, like India.
What are the factors that drive the breast pumps market growth in India?
The Indian maternity and baby care products market has been witnessing tremendous growth in the last few years in comparison to the other emerging markets across the world. The trend of possessing premium products and accessories is no longer the monopoly of the youth segment of the population. Today, a lot of women aspire to have a balanced work and personal life and this has produced a favourable impact on the breast pump industry dynamics. Moreover, exponentially increasing number of births coupled with rising awareness regarding breastfeeding and its challenges will further propel the breast pump demand, thereby driving the industry trends. Rapid economic development along with the rising working female population and less children per woman (which means that parents are more keen to invest and give the best for their 1 or 2 children) will generate lucrative avenues for the breast pump business over the coming years.
How difficult has it been penetrating the Indian market, where sensitization to products like breast pumps is set in the Dark Ages? How are you going about spreading awareness?
For a lot of foreign companies, India, thanks to its population, has come in the radar. The health market, estimated at $3 billion, is one such attraction, even though it is still much below its potential. One major challenge for the Indian medical device industry is the insufficient funding from the Government, India spending less than 2 per cent of the GDP on public health. When it comes to breastfeeding, India comes with its own challenges. When we can say that it is definitely a ‘pro-breastfeeding’ country (with nearly 77 per cent of women breastfeeding after one year whereas only 27 per cent of American babies are still breastfed at one year), the rates of early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding rate for the first 6 months, as recommended by WHO, are rather low (below 50 per cent). This indicates a lot of mixed feeding, which is not optimum for the health and development of infants, starting with discarding colostrum, the first milk, which is actually the best source of nutrients.
Medela India along with its panel of lactation consultants has been spreading awareness on subjects related to breastfeeding, nutrition, maternal and child care and further empowers them to be a happy nutrition provider through their high-end breast pumps. Medela India distributes its products through hospitals, pharmacies, chemists, small and medium baby shops, organized retail chains and e-commerce.
In the hospital segment, Medela has been investing heavily since 2016 to make sure that NICUs (Neonatal Intensive Care Units) get equipped with Hospital Grade Pumps, thus ensuring that premature and/or sick babies can access their mother’s milk, which is critical for their survival.
Medela also got a major breakthrough in 2015 with milk banks across Tamil Nadu. In as many as eight milk banks, Medela was able to set up its high end hospital grade breast pump, Symphony, to help mothers express breast milk.
 Source: Infosys 2014 – https://www.infosys.com/consulting/insights/Documents/indian-medical-device-industry.pdf
What’s your marketing strategy in a country like India?
Education is our prime focus for a nascent market like India. As a global leader, we are committed to build and develop the category in India by conducting extensive education programs in the hospitals on benefits of breastfeeding and human milk in the hospital in general and in the NICU in particular.
We also actively communicate with mothers online through an integrated digital media strategy. With the launch of our Mobile application MyMedela, we are getting closer to our customers and empowering them to make informed choices on providing the best nutrition to the baby – mother’s milk.
Even in families where sensitization is not an issue, high product prices can be a deterrent. What is the pricing strategy behind your product?
Increasing awareness on the importance of breastfeeding and rise in the number of working women is driving significant growth in this market. Countries like India and China have consumers adopting such medically advanced products at a high rate, thereby, widening the market for breast pumps even further. Identifying this growing need for this breastfeeding support device among the women of today, our breast pumps are designed to meet the many needs of nursing mother.
We manufacture high quality breast pumps based on applied research in order to make motherhood memorable and easier. They are available in hospital-grade, double and single electric and manual models available at a price point starting from Rs 2,499 and goes up to Rs. 32,999.
Who is your target audience?
Mothers- New and expecting
Fathers, Healthcare professionals
Nurses/ Lactation Consultants
Have you broken even in India? Are you making profits? Share revenues for past fiscal and target for next fiscal.
Medela has been providing the most technologically advanced breast pumps and breastfeeding accessories to health professionals and nursing mothers around the world, since 1961. We are leaders in India in the electric pumps segment with approximately 45 per cent market share. Consumer demand for Medela products has been constantly growing on the account of our continuous focus on research and education and developing innovative products with clear benefits to users. We are growing at the rate of 40 per cent y-o-y. However, we will continue to re-invent and build the electric pumps portfolio in India.
Do you plan on selling online in India, or will you only sell through partner sites like Amazon and Snapdeal?
Medela’s products are available across leading baby care outlets throughout India including leading e-commerce like Firstcry, Amazon and Flipkart. Apart from pumps available from retail, it is critical that hospitals, and more specifically NICUs , are equipped with Hospital Grade Pumps and invest in giving lactation support to mothers. Medela is also present in selected pharmacies inside and outside the hospitals.
How much do you think will India contribute to your overall revenue?
We see India as an important market due to its robust economic progress and brighter economic conditions. The single electric breast pumps segment has been growing phenomenally. The growing working women population and cost efficiency of single electric breast pumps is considered as the major factor behind the growth of this segment.
What are your future/ expansion plans for India?
A key aspect of Medela has been relentless focus on research based medical technology and this will continue to be a primary area in terms of focus and investment in India in the days to come. At Medela, there is a constant endeavour to learn continuously from those who know it the best i.e. mothers. Hence understanding the predisposition of millennial moms towards increasing utilisation of technology in their everyday lives. We recently launched a unique and personalised breastfeeding application, MyMedela to make the journey more comfortable for new and expecting mothers.
We have also come up with another innovation in services, called Breast Pump Advisor (www.breastpumpadvisor.com) which will act as a solution to enable new mothers choose breast pumps best suited for them and their babies based on over 300 aspects of their motherhood journey.