3 Consumer Trends to Watch: Over-the-Counter Medicines

Over-the-counter medications marketing isn’t simple. It’s a crowded industry and there are a lot from which the consumer can choose. These three emerging trends can be applied to more than just over-the-counter medication, however. They speak to overarching themes in all retail and we can all learn something from the insights here.

Trend #1: Pricing influences

It’s not a new trend that consumers consider pricing a huge part of their decision-making. However, there may be a few behaviors linked to pricing that we have previously not noticed. For one, research firm EdemanBerland discovered that if an over-the-counter treatment purports to prevent an ailment, people are more likely to think they are susceptible to the ailment if the price tag is lower. Therefore, if something has a higher price point (say, $250), people are less likely to think that they will develop the ailment the product claims to treat. In the first scenario, a person buys a $25 product not only because it’s affordable, but because they’re concerned about preventing/treating the ailment the product is said to help. In the second scenario, the consumer does not purchase the $250 product, not only because it’s expensive, but also because they’re not sure they’re going to develop the ailment it claims to cure. This is very interesting from a marketers’ perspective. Price might influence more than just if consumers perceive the product as a deal; consumers are also weighing the likelihood that they’ll need the product.

Trend #2: Unmet needs for education

According to EdelmanBerland, 40% of patients said they don’t have enough tools to help them develop a minor-ailment treatment plan on their own. This may surprise you, considering the Internet is full of “web doctor” sites and advice forums. However, it seems like this may point to a bigger marketing opportunity for OTC medicine companies themselves. There is an unmet need for consumer education. What is your medicine used for? What other OTC medicines is it safe to use in conjunction in order to aid an ailment? At what point should a consumer consider seeing a physician? All of these questions can be answered on the brand’s digital properties, whether it be an app, website, or social networks in order to engage users.

Trend #3: The new consumer journey

Digital channels offer great ways to personalize marketing for your consumers. Paid search, emarketing, email campaigns and social media can all aid in connecting with your consumer at every point in their sales journey. With OTC medicines, the sales cycle is relatively short. You can stay top-of-mind by engaging with your consumer even when they don’t need your product. A great example of this is how Prilosec launched their social campaign + subsequent giveaway to get people to share the things they do without heartburn. It’s time for OTC brands to focus on the consumer experience and not just selling.

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