Consumers are increasingly and actively seeking to live less toxic, more natural lives and this is reflected in the products they choose to buy. They’re more educated about ingredients, choosing to avoid potentially harmful additives in beauty and personal care products, food, household cleansers, and OTC medications. The desire to use safer products with fewer side effects is a primary motivation for OTC consumers—50% perceive natural OTCs to be safer and gentler than traditional OTC brands. Parents are particularly concerned about the potential side effects of traditional OTC products on their children’s health—72% of parents say they administer natural OTCs to their children first.
Health and Wellness Consumers: The True Believers
Almost one quarter of consumers say they prefer taking natural OTCs rather than medications and 17% believe that natural OTCs offer a holistic approach to health that address the root cause of their illness or discomfort, rather than just treat symptoms. Thirty-four percent of these “true believers” also believe that natural products are equally effective as their traditional counterparts and 40% are more satisfied with natural brands. These consumers are choosing natural OTCs as a preferred treatment option from chronic conditions, particularly when they’ve been unable to find relief through conventional OTC products and/or prescription drugs alone.
Shopping for Natural Health & Wellness Products
Consumers once had to seek out natural OTCs at specialty health food stores, but today they can find them on the shelf of their local CVS or Walmart. More than 60% of consumers purchase natural OTCs at drug stores and mass merchandisers and retailers are placing increasing emphasis on natural OTC’s as consumer interest grows. Target’s “Made to Matter” program works with select brands to develop healthier, more environmentally friendly alternatives, and more mainstream retailers are creating special natural sections to address this health and wellness trend.
When it comes to their health, consumers place value over price and expect to pay more for natural OTCs than conventional products, noting a willingness to pay between $6 and $15 for a natural OTC product. Although naturals may be slightly more expensive, “value” for consumers may come in many forms, such as research-backed claims, made with non-GMO ingredients, meaningful potencies, on-package ingredient origin information, good manufacturing process seals, among others. That said, deal-seeking behavior remains high: 54% will choose another OTC brand over their preferred brand because it’s on sale and 42% will buy another OTC brand because they have a coupon.
Growth Ahead for Natural OTC
More than half of consumers use natural OTCs more now than they did just one year ago and nearly two-thirds use natural OTCs more now than five years ago. As consumers grow increasingly concerned about the cost of health care and take a proactive approach to staying healthy, an aging population concerned with maintaining heart and brain health, and more consumers looking for natural alternatives for themselves and their families, this category is predicted to grow.
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Sources: IRi Kline “Natural” Trends and Drivers in the Self-Care Space, 2017, IRi Mid-Year Reflection 2017 Where’s the (non-food) growth? 2017, Mintel Consumer Trends 2018