The Essentials of Over the Counter (OTC) Marketing

by Sean Ogino |

There is a classic paradox in over-the-counter (OTC) medications marketing. On one side, the OTC market is becoming visibly crowded due to continuous entries of new players that are leaving customers with more than enough choices. And on the other side, 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. What is even more perplexing is there is no dearth of “web doctor” sites and advice forums. Clearly, marketing efforts have been more quantitative and not qualitative. The inference is clear: Health care marketing is itself ill and thus there is an enormous potential for innovative marketing as far as OTC medicine brands are concerned. After contemplating such factors, we have come up with the following vital tactics for OTC marketing.

OTC Marketing Tactic #1: Emotional Connections

Usually, health care purchases are the result of a much more rational decision-making process than other products. Most people do not buy a medicine just because it has been advertised by his favorite celebrity or he/she finds the aesthetics of the pill alluring. The age, intensity of the pain, the heaviness of the medicine in terms of the contents and many other factors govern the buying decision. But unlike fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), where the entire focal point of advertisement and marketing is making the everyday life even better, the context of OTC products is the currently present crisis. They are not there to solve everyday problems; they solve crises (small or large). As these crises are related to health and body- the things which are precious to everyone, it does make sense to try to evoke the sentimentality without being too melodramatic. For example, pain treatment is a common goal for many OTC medications. The whole idea of marketing communication can play around the absence of the problem. A positive storytelling with a singular pain relief may touch the emotional chords of the people. Besides, there are ample studies to prove that the way the drug works is not totally removed from the way the patient thinks. The following communication tries to do the exact thing! otc marketing aleve

OTC Marketing Tactic #2: Consumer Research:

The chances that people will Google cough syrup when their throats are under a constant attack is much higher than they will Google about Pepsi when they are feeling the humidity. The reason is before doing the self-diagnosis with the help of online expertise, they want an opinion from a source which is an absolute authority. Then and only then they will be sure about the cause and remedy of the ailment. That’s precisely why online searches on symptoms, diseases, conditions are all time high. Similarly, due to mobile phones, they can ask so many questions as if they are talking to the pharmacist in his pharmacy. Thus, it has become increasingly important for marketers like you to know how people are searching for your products. You should have a complete knowledge of which keywords are dominating the search, which questions are frequently asked by people and what are the common concerns of people. This will enable you to ensure that the product information on your or other platforms like Amazon is correct. If the information and communication is correct, the chances of better understanding from the consumers’ part about the benefits and features of your products are high. And believe it or not, clarity in thoughts of customers is the most striking force behind their buying decision.

OTC Marketing Tactic #3: Staying on Consumers’ Minds

The sales cycle of OTC medicines is short. The person may come to your store, online or physical, look what is available for headache and will buy it. Of course, this is a benefit as you can have more “hits”, but it can also work as a disadvantage. Because with such nature of OTC products, it becomes difficult for your brands to constantly linger on your customers’ minds. This demands a sustainable and omni or multi-channel marketing approach. Frankly speaking, in an era where marketers like you are armed with social media, emails, and mobiles, it’s not at all difficult to achieve it along with a Midas touch of personalization. These multiple touch point undertakings don’t just force your customers to think constantly about brands, but they enhance the brand visibility and engagement too. A great example of this is how Procter & Gamble launched their social campaign + subsequent giveaway for its Prilosec, a medicine used in the treatment of gastroesophageal reflux disease, peptic ulcer disease, and Zollinger–Ellison syndrome. Launched under the title of “Official Sponsor of Everything You Do Without Heartburn,” the idea of the contest was to invite people to share the things they do without heartburn. The participants were allowed to post videos and stories making their case for items—such as cameras, classes or guitars—worth an average of $1,000 that will help them pursue their passions. It was an intelligent way to stoke people’s passions by linking them to the entire marketing campaign. It was highly aspirational and people generally don’t forget anything which is associated with their passions and wills.

Staying on Consumers' Minds
OTC Marketing Tactic #4: Ratings and Reviews

Regardless of the product segment, ratings and reviews are always invaluable and integral part of any sales success story. When customers see that the product is getting more praise than a rebuke from a wide range of people, it automatically becomes a social proof…almost like a trust badge. OTC products are no different, though there is a chance that the medicine which has worked well for someone doesn’t necessarily work for all. But the synthesis of hundreds and thousands of positive reviews are enough to negate the negative thoughts from the reader’s mind. The reader starts to feel “good” about the product and that’s what marketing is all about. Ratings and reviews don’t just reassure customers–they’re also an important component in strengthening a brand’s search ranking. Search algorithms  don’t just value the total amount of reviews. They give equal weight to the pace at which new reviews are being constantly added. Hence, it’s clear that ratings and reviews are way too important in maintaining and enhancing the online presence of the product.

OTC Marketing Tactic #5: Customer Loyalty

While certain OTC medications are meant to be taken on an as-needed basis, vitamins and supplements are generally consumed daily. This frequent use makes the OTC industry ideal for customer loyalty programs, which can increase repeat purchase rate and AOV by up to 20%. Why do customers respond to this? They believe that loyalty programs are part of their relationship with a company, and believe that loyalty programs demonstrate how loyal a company is to them. A good loyalty program can make or break a business.

Loyalty programs are also a treasure trove of data, which you can use to do things like making intelligent product recommendations to your customers based on their purchase history, geographic location, age, gender, and more.

To Conclude…

The OTC marketing is the same as well as different from the marketing of other products. The marketers will have to do few things drastically different by keeping the base of the marketing concept intact. But it’s more than worth to take those extra and different efforts. With the increasing awareness of health all across the globe and slow and steady progress of OTC medicines towards becoming a regular category on e-commerce platforms, OTP medicine marketers can strike gold!

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