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U.S. consumers place more importance on price and value when choosing over-the-counter (OTC) medication compared to global consumers, a likely reaction to the economic downturn, according to a global online survey conducted by The Nielsen Co. in partnership with the Association of the European Self-Medication Industry (AESGP).
According to The Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, 30 percent of U.S. consumers consider price important when choosing OTC products, while on average, only 17 percent of global consumers do; only Japanese consumers place more importance on price (33 percent). One quarter of Americans consider whether the product is a good value, while on average, 15 percent of global consumers make this a consideration.
“With increasing medical costs and a fragile economy, the U.S. consumer is more price and value centric than ever,” said Matt Dumas, managing director, NielsenHealth. “These findings highlight the rising importance of generic drugs in the U.S. market, which is underscored by low OTC product loyalty scores versus global markets.”
When choosing OTC medication, U.S. consumers rank the product’s effectiveness, safety, and whether or not they have confidence in the product as most important. According to Nielsen’s research, fifty percent of U.S. consumers ranked “I know it works” as an important factor when choosing OTC medication, while four out of ten (42 percent) U.S. consumers cited “I know it is safe,” and 35 percent responded that having confidence in the product were important. Least important to U.S. consumers are recognizable products (7 percent), easy to take products (8 percent) and choosing products because they are usually used (12 percent).
“With a highly competitive OTC marketplace in the U.S., a product’s effectiveness is the driving factor behind consumer preference,” said David Parma, global head of Nielsen Consumer Research. “Safety clearly is top of mind, particularly now with the recent intervention by the FDA in prescription and OTC medication. OTC manufacturers need to do a really good job of communicating the safety of their products in light of this.”
Other key findings include:
• When feeling the first signs of a minor ailment, 60 percent of U.S. consumers usually wait to see if it gets better before taking medicine. Twenty-five percent usually take medicine as soon as they start to feel unwell, while only nine percent always take medicine as soon as they start to feel ill.
• Of those consumers that usually wait to see if they get better or never take medicine, 34 percent respond that the main reason they don’t take medicine is because taking medicines can be harmful to your health. Fourteen percent indicate that they don’t take medicine because they’re too expensive.
• When asked what would help them take care of their health and minor ailments, U.S. consumers indicated more advice or support from their doctors (44 percent), clearer information on and in the pack of medicine (36 percent), and more health education (33 percent).
• Forty-nine percent of U.S. consumers strongly agree or agree that more medicines should be available without a prescription from the doctor. Thirty-one percent strongly disagree or disagree, while thirty-one percent don’t have an opinion or don’t know.
The Nielsen Global Online Consumer Survey, was conducted by Nielsen Consumer Research in April and May 2008 among 28,253 Internet users in 51 markets in Europe, Asia Pacific, North America, and the Middle East.