Choosing Over-the-Counter Medications

Americans are more price-conscious than consumers in other countries when it comes to choosing over-the-counter medications, according to a new report by the Nielsen Co. (Adweek’s parent company). But even in the U.S., other factors stand higher in the hierarchy of considerations that guide purchase decisions.

Given a menu of choices and asked to pick the ones that are important to them when choosing such products, 30 percent of U.S. respondents cited “the price.” But even larger numbers included “I know it works” (50 percent), “I know it is safe” (42 percent) and “I have confidence in the product” (35 percent) among the factors that are important to them. Thirty percent cited “I know it works quickly,” while fewer picked “A name that I trust” (21 percent) or “It is easy to take” (10 percent).

Nielsen put the same question to consumers in 50 markets outside the U.S. In the global averages, “I know it is safe” (43 percent), “I know it works” (41 percent) and “I have confidence in the product” (33 percent) had the highest scores. “The price” was cited by 17 percent, barely half the number of U.S. respondents who pointed to this factor. Conversely, the global average was much higher than the U.S.-only score (23 percent vs. 12 percent) for “It is the only one I usually use.”

Elsewhere in the poll, just 25 percent of U.S. respondents said they usually rush to the medicine cabinet at the first signs of a minor ailment. They were far outnumbered by the 60 percent who usually “wait to see if it gets better before taking medicine.”