What are the Key Factors Affecting the Purchase of Natural OTC/wellness Products?

Natural OTCs
Natural OTCs

Natural OTC/wellness products have seen rapid expansion in terms of sales and prominent retail shelf placement. Natural OTC/wellness products are those that usually are drug-free, may contain natural, plant-, or herb-based ingredients or vitamins and minerals, can be homeopathic, and often make claims of support, prevention, maintenance, and/or treatment of minor conditions. Common examples include probiotics for digestive health, vitamin C supplements for immune support, zinc-based products to help shorten a cold, melatonin for occasional sleeplessness, and other similar products.

Kline has studied the market for both traditional OTC drugs and natural OTC/wellness products for many years. As part of our periodic market assessments, Kline conducts consumer research to understand what natural products consumers buy, why they buy them, and how they are using them. Below reflects some results from our last consumer survey, conducted in Spring 2016.

Types of Natural OTCs Purchased or Used
Natural OTC

Consumers also buy natural products for the following reasons/conditions:

  • Immune system support
  • Antioxidant
  • Circulation
  • Restless leg syndrome

The top reason cited for using natural OTCs by almost 45% of consumers is that consumers have researched the products and decided to try them, indicating that the consumers who buy natural OTCs are accustomed to being informed about their health and the products they buy. About 38% of consumers surveyed note use of natural OTCs because they are effective, and the same number of respondents said that a friend or relative recommended the products. Another 34% said they consider natural OTCs to be safer than traditional OTCs with fewer side effects and 31% had the natural OTCs recommended by a primary care doctor or other health professional. Some of the other reasons consumers give for using natural OTCs are:

  • Natural OTCs are more gentle/less harsh on the body
  • Prefer to use non-drug OTCs and prefer not to take medications if possible
  • Believe natural OTCs are healthier than traditional OTCs
  • Believe natural OTCs keep them healthy
  • Find natural OTCs to be readily available in stores or online

Nearly half of consumers use natural OTCs to prevent themselves from getting sick and to treat illness. About 20% said they use natural OTCs to prevent themselves from getting sick. Another 13% said they use natural OTCs in addition to traditional OTCs to treat themselves when ill, while 13% also said they use natural OTCs to maintain overall health and wellbeing. Finally, 8% of respondents said they use natural OTCs alone as treatment for minor conditions or illnesses.

Three-fourths of consumers surveyed indicate they are using more natural OTC/wellness products now than they did five years ago and this trend is expected to continue for the foreseeable future as consumers strive to live healthier. The use of natural OTC/wellness products will continue to grow as will consumers’ embracing functional foods and beverages to maintain their health and wellness.

Kline is planning an update of the Natural OTCs study in 2018 with all new consumer research on this growing market segment. To learn more about what your organization can expect and how you can help design the consumer survey questions, please contact us.

Natural OTCs: Impact of Non-drug Products on the U.S. OTC Market is a comprehensive assessment of the non-drug products competing with traditional OTCs, focusing on major products, companies, and consumer attitudes towards such products. The new edition of this study will be published in Q2 2018.