otc marketing to consumers

Three Surprising Insights About OTC Marketing to Healthcare Consumers Now

Erin Mays, Co-Founder & Consumer Insight Consultant, Ebco
Kalyn Rozanski, Co-Founder & Trend Consultant, Ebco

Note: Each year, GSK sponsors dozens of market research studies, designed to inspire and inform new consumer health ideas, products and technology solutions. We also share these valuable insights with our innovation partners. Here are just a few recent findings from our consumer and trends research consultants at Ebco.*

Insight #1: Consumers are eagerly embracing on-demand products and services

Think Uber ride service. Blue Apron’s weekly meal-ingredient providers. Even Stitch Fix, curators of home-delivered fashions. These ultra-convenient services have boomed in popularity among consumers in recent years.  Now they’re driving demand for similar mobile, on-demand products and services in the health and wellness category. This area has grown considerably in just the last year alone. Why schedule and travel for an office visit when you can have a remote medical consult in minutes with a virtual doctor visit or telemedicine service? Have a nighttime cough? Some pharmacies will deliver a remedy right to your home with a quick call or text. Other on-demand solutions gaining ground in over-the-counter marketing to health consumers include: curated kits of health and nutrition products, subscription health services, new apps that offer instant health readings and feedback and more. As consumers will be expecting more of these  "one-click health and wellness solutions," pressure is growing for newer and established companies to get in the game as well. 

Takeaway: To continually engage healthcare consumers, innovators will need to develop more on-demand offerings and product solutions that offer instant gratification and relief to end users.

Insight #2: Consumers want enhanced support with managing their chronic conditions

As such, many companies are rethinking ways to engage consumers by making it easier, more satisfying, even more  "pleasant" to manage chronic health conditions. Simultaneously, consumers are starting to expect  "experiences" designed for them and customised to their needs. Diabetes management has been a fertile ground for these kinds of innovations. New business models, like One Drop, harness the power of mobile computing and data science to help people with diabetes live healthier lives on their own and together, via a downloadable app that gives users personalised insights and guidance to act on each day based on their inputs. It also helps them tap into a virtual diabetes community, equips them with a slick glucose monitor and fills customised monthly subscriptions for home-delivered supplies. These tools seek to empower patients and help them to feel positive in their journey, instead of bad about having diabetes. Advances in digital technologies have also made it easier to create personalised variations of products and services for OTC or over-the-counter marketing. VitaMe is just one company that customises daily vitamin regimens for users based on inputs about their unique health and wellness profiles or goals and, again, delivers these customised kits directly to customers’ homes.

Takeaway: Brands and innovators will need to think about new ways to give healthcare customers better  "experiences" with managing their chronic conditions and daily self-care needs. How to start? Think through your customer’s journey—from research to purchase to reorder—and focus on developing a new solution that addresses a common pain point along the way. In addition, think beyond diabetes to other chronic conditions and health needs, such as allergies, osteoarthritis and more.

Insight #3: Consumers are open to relying more on technology to make self-care easier

Proactive wearables, sensors and other devices are gaining a following for their ability to predict and then prompt consumers to act in some way, such as taking another dose or getting up and moving, to proactively manage their health. In fact, technology is fast becoming one with the human body. There is a growing market demand for devices that proactively release medication, for instance, without any thought or action from the user. This can be in the form of transdermal patches, devices or even dermal or ingestible sensors that monitor the body then release medicine when they detect that the user needs it (without any attention or action from the user). Consumers tend to gravitate to these new products because they "free up" their attention and give them one less thing to worry about through their days. Even healthcare providers are intrigued, as these technologies may help to improve treatment adherence and outcomes.

Takeaway: Innovators will need to focus on products and technologies that can take on a proactive role in helping people address their daily health tasks—whether it’s through sensors and prompting or timed releases of medicine as a need is detected.


*Ebco is an independent Los Angeles-based consumer and trends consultancy that operates at the convergence of customer experience, evidence-based trends and strategic action. Their valuable research insights help to inform our company’s and our partners’ innovation efforts. Learn more at www.theebco.com.