Advertising for health care & health supplements brands in the times of COVID-19

health care advertising during COVID 19


PlatformsWhy advertisePopular Media
Digital OTT Platforms1. Advanced Targeting Options
2. High engagement rate during COVID-19
Hotstar, Jio Saavn, Gaana, Voot, Zee5
User-generated Video Platform1. Advanced targeting options
2. Increase in downloads & time spent during COVID-19
YouTube, TikTok
Digital News Platforms1. Spike in usage during COVID-19
2. Shift from traditional news medium to digital
Inshorts, Daily Hunt, Digital platforms of newspapers- TOI, The Hindu, Hindustan Times
Social MediaTime spent as high as 4 hoursFacebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter
Influencer Advertising1. Trust factor
2. Emotional & mental support from influencers during COVID-19 in the form of DIY videos, self help talks etc
Health & Fitness Influencers
Television1. Watched by entire family together
2. Mass media
3. Increase in time spent during COVID-19
Star Plus, DD National, Colors, Sun TV, Aaj Tak

Since the day the country witnessed the effects of calamitous COVID-19, a lot has changed. Whether it is work, consumption pattern, investment pattern or digital behaviour, almost everything can be charted in two separate columns, namely pre-COVID-19 and during COVID-19. As we enter the 4th phase of COVID-19 lockdown, things are looking up and businesses are ready to resume with certain limitations, we as a media agency, often face the following questions:

  • What was the effect of the lockdown on media consumption during lockdown?
  • How would the media consumption change after the lockdown and the next 3-4 months?
  • Would it be a good idea to advertise now?
  • What advertising platforms would be the best for my product/product category?

In this series of articles based on COVID-19 lockdown and it’s effects on various categories, our first article “Advertising After Lockdown: Where Would Advertisers’ Money Go?”, talked about the media consumption trends in the weeks following lockdown. In this article, we took note of changes in consumer trends over the next few months, as laid down by the popular industry experts like Kantar, BCG, Nielsen, KPMG, etc and compared the same with the traffic trend on our website. Based on the two sets of data, we have made a rough assumption of which advertising media would bounce back faster than the others and why.

In the next article “Advertising for education brands in the times of COVID-19”, we discussed the various advertising media that would be beneficial for education brand advertising for the next few months and also the reasons why the next few months are the best for advertising education brands:

  • As per surveys carried by Kantar and BCG, people have expressed their intention of increasing spending on education
  • There has been a huge surge in demand for online education as people spend more time indoors and want to utilize this time in something meaningful.
  • With unemployment on a rise and lack of overseas education options due to COVID-19, a number of young employees are expected to be looking for long -term courses.

In this article, we would discuss another sector that is already under a huge demand- health care. With a rapid rise in the corona cases, more and more offline health care facilities are being dedicated to fighting COVID-19 cases and there has been a rise in demand for online health checkups and a lot more. We intend to discuss this in today’s article.

Covid-19 Lockdown- Effect on the health care sector

Following are some trends that the health care sector has witnessed during the pandemic:

  • Increase in immunity-boosting products- health drinks, health supplements, immunity boosters like Chyawanprash
  • Offline clinic visits were at the lowest due to lockdown and even after lockdown, people would like to cut down on walking into clinics and pathology centers hence, relying on online mode.
  • Due to the prioritization of COVID-19, all non-essential medical procedures were canceled during the lockdown. The same would be in high demand once the lockdown is completely over and life would return to normalcy.
BCG survey on consumer sentiment during COVID 19
Source: COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Research by BCG

Above is a screenshot from a report by BCG that tells us what people think about their spending behavior in the next six months. There have been three such surveys since March and people’s response has changed over time. However, health care products like preventive diagnostics/tests; vitamins, herbs, supplements; medical procedures, and first-aid have seen a consistent demand.

Is it a good time to advertise?

While the world is going through a crisis, several brands are wondering if it is a good time to advertise. The lockdown has definitely led to a number of businesses face losses and worried about revenue generation in the next few months. Apart from that, a number of brands are worried about consumer sentiments around advertising during COVID-19. They fear if it would portray their brand as selfish and insensitive and money-minded.

Well, all these concerns are valid but there’s a silver lining. According to a survey by Kantar, only 8% people said that brands should stop advertising.

Should brands stop advertising in the times of COVID?
Source: Kantar COVID 19 Barometer India Research

Also, one of the major reasons that advertising during lockdown has become very important is the way lockdown has been implemented in India. We are in the fourth phase of lockdown right now and businesses are opening up in phases. Many people are still home and might not be aware about the fact that you are open for business. This gives advertisers another valid reason to promote their brand.

The communication part also plays a more important role now than before. Instead of competing with one another, brands now have to combat the negative consumer sentiments. By advertising, brands can now communicate with the consumers, build trust and spread a positive message.

Following is a screenshot from a report by Kantar which talks about a consumer survey where people have expressed their opinion about advertisement creative.

What type of advertising should brands be doing
Source: Kantar COVID 19 Barometer India Research

Aren’t these reasons exciting enough to consider advertising? Now the next and the most important question that needs to be answered is: which platforms should the brands consider for advertising?

The best advertising platforms for health care brands post lockdown

When it comes to health care, trust is an important factor. Also, most of the hospitals except the well-established chains have a local reach. Hence, advertising in traditional media like newspaper, outdoor and radio have been preferred by health care brands for a long time before COVID-19 related lockdown brought a disruption. With travel and people’s movement being restricted, outdoor advertising had no takers. With no shooting happening, television and video platforms faced lack of fresh content. Newspaper distribution in several containment zones witnessed irregularity and due to people not commuting to work, radio also lost some listenership.

In our last article, we discussed the expected timeline of ad platforms bouncing back to life after the lockdown is over. Here’s a snapshot from the article which talks about which ad platforms would be the first to recover from the adverse effects of lockdown:

Digital-Online Games
Tech Parks

Let’s see why the above mentioned ad platforms would be the best in the current situation. A survey by Kantar revealed that more than 50% people are willing to stay home in the coming months and spend more time consuming content online.

Where should people advertise after COVID 19 lockdown

Source: Kantar COVID 19 Barometer India Research

The ad platforms that health care brands should focus on for the next 2-3 months are:

Digital OTT platforms

Digital OTT platforms serve content across genres on demand and hence cater to a wide range of audiences. They have massive reach and have various advanced level targeting options like demographics, geography, interest, etc. Digital OTT platforms are popular among advertisers for their high engagement and performance. The most popular ad format in the case of digital OTT platforms is video ads.

During the lockdown, OTT platforms witnessed an increase in average time spent by 31%. 

Our top pages for advertising on OTT platforms are:

User-generated Video Platforms

User-generated content platforms like YouTube and TikTok witnessed a massive jump in engagement after the lockdown was announced. People spend more time at home nowadays. With television and OTTs limited by lack of fresh content, user content platforms see a plethora of user-generated videos- memes, lip-sync, dance, health guidelines, and tutorials, etc. Many FMCG brands especially those related to personal hygiene advertised on these platforms to guide the public on how to stay safe from COVID-19 with popular challenges like #Handwashchallenge. Hence, now that the stage is set, these platforms can work well for health care brands too.

Tik Tok was one of the top downloaded apps during the lockdown while YouTube saw a 20% increase in subscriber base in the 1st quarter of 2020 driven by people age 18-34 years.

Our top pages for advertising on user generated video platforms are

You can check our campaign execution for Tata Health here:

Case Study: How Tata Health drove app install in Bangalore through Digital and Hyperlocal Advertising

Digital News platforms

Reading newspapers has been a morning ritual for several households. One of the oldest and most trusted medium, newspapers have been a favorite advertising platform for health care brands. However, with lockdown came a time when the distribution of the newspapers was irregular in some areas. Also, people wary of making any sort of contacts switched to consuming news online from popular news aggregators as well as digital arms of the newspaper publishers. Hence, like their paper counterparts, digital news platforms too enjoy a very high degree of trust from the audience. Also, these platforms are preferred by working professionals who are the early adopters of health-related trends.

According to a Comscore report, in the last week of March, visits to popular online news platforms increased by 97% as compared to six weeks before. 

Our top pages for advertising on digital news platforms are:

You can check our campaign execution for herbal medicine Sleeprite here:

Case Study: How This Herbal Medicine Used Digital Medium to Target a Niche Audience

Social Media Platforms

While the COVID-19 has forced people to stay home and maintain social distancing, people have found social media as the answer to their loneliness. From networking to chatting to sharing information on groups to keeping themselves updated with the latest news, social media platforms have become a companion for people. In terms of advertising social media platforms have a variety of ad formats from images to video to messages to influencer content to target the audience.

During the lockdown, average time spent on social media platforms increased by 87% to 4 hours a day. 

Our top pages for advertising on social media platforms:

Influencer Advertising

Influencers have played a major role during the lockdown in spreading information and guidelines about COVID-19 and bringing positivity among their followers through videos, DIY tutorials across genres like fitness, dance, cooking, crafts, etc. The audience not only trusts influencers but also look forward to their content. Influencer advertising can help brands boost their authenticity and credibility.

Our top pages for influencer advertising are:

You can check our campaign execution for Practo here: Case Study: How Practo used Digital Medium to generate brand awareness and increased website traffic


While digital advertising options attract young target audience, advertising on television is the best choice for running brand awareness campaigns to attract parents and students together. 95% of television homes in India are single TV homes which means watching television is a family activity. With people forced to stay home for a longer period, television has emerged as the favorite entertainment medium for the entire family.

During the lockdown, TV viewership has increased by ~50%. Though most channels except news channels are running old content, TV viewership is still on rise. A number of channels have offered advertising discounts too.

Our top pages for advertising on television are:

Checkout our TVC for Thyrocare during the lockdown period here.

In case you have some questions or would like to know more about advertising after lockdown, write to us at


  • Kantar COVID 19 Barometer India Research
  • KPMG report: COVID 19: The many shades of a crisis
  • BCG report: BCG COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Survey India
  • Report by Gipsi: India’s habits are changing- Decoding the new Indian consumer
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