February 1, 2010
When Manhattan Research began looking at the health and information technology trends of U.S. consumers about a decade ago, individuals who researched prescription drug information online, ePharma Consumers, were considered early adopters. But the market has tripled over the past five years, and now more than 100 million consumers, or 44% of U.S. adults, are ePharma Consumers. While growth in the population of consumers online for general health and medical information, eHealth Consumers, has slowed, the ePharma Consumer segment is still showing strong growth and is expected to comprise the majority of U.S. adults by 2012.
The boom in the ePharma Consumer population can be attributed to a variety of factors. During the past decade, older consumers have become more comfortable with the Internet as an information resource, and online prescription drug content tends to be particularly relevant to this segment. There has also been an increase in the number of U.S. adults taking one or more prescription medications. Healthcare costs have also become a driving factor, especially in the current economy as many price-conscious consumers head online in search of coupons and free trials for treatments.
Finally, pharmaceutical marketers are integrating online campaigns into traditional DTC promotions more often. In the past, the primary call to action on a prescription drug print ad or commercial was to prompt consumers to call an 800 number or to talk to a doctor for more information, but now many drive consumers online for additional information. Therapeutic category and how well marketers integrate online campaigns with their offline promotions play a big role in how effective brands are in driving traffic to product Websites. For example, NuvaRing, Latisse, and Cialis are currently the top pharmaceutical brands in terms of having the highest percentage of overall product website traffic driven by their DTC television advertisements. Oral contraceptive users are more likely to be online than the average consumer, and erectile dysfunction sufferers tend to use the Internet as a resource to research this sensitive condition in private. In the case of Latisse, the brand’s television commercial promotes the product site URL prominently throughout the ad, encouraging interested consumers to go online to see Brooke Shields’ and other patients’ testimonials.
The study found that among newer media, online video represents a particularly strong opportunity for pharma marketers. Almost one-half of ePharma Consumers watched health videos online in 2009, and many condition groups, such as patients with diabetes, show strong interest in using this media format to educate themselves about their condition in the future. The study found that consumers tend to pull up relevant health video as they look for health information online, rather than going to YouTube or other video search engines to specifically find video content. Most important, the study suggests health video strongly impacts health behavior − nearly three-quarters of consumers went on to do additional research after watching online health videos.
Condition sites or unbranded Websites are another type of pharmaceutical online resource prompting consumers to take the next step in their treatment information search. True to their design, condition sites owned by pharmaceutical manufacturers are even more likely to drive consumers to seek condition or treatment information after the visit than product Websites. When it comes to the Holy Grail of consumers requesting a prescription drug by name from their doctor, product sites are just as effective as condition sites at driving this action. Post-visit actions, though, just like most online pharmaceutical information-seeking behaviors, vary greatly by therapeutic category and product or condition site, so it’s important for marketers to understand the trends of their target market.
ePharma Consumer v9.0 is focused on the attitudes and behaviors of consumers seeking pharmaceutical information online. The study was conducted via online survey in Q4 2009 among 6,575 adults (age 18+). ePharma Consumer also provides data on more than 160 pharmaceutical product Websites. Clients can segment the broad market research to provide in-depth data on more than 80 condition groups. For additional product and subscription information, please visit manhattanresearch.com/epc, email email@example.com, or call 1-888-680-0800, ext 2.
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