People Are Getting Sicker, TV Appears Best For What Ails Them
The 2005 report marks the fifth annual study, and represents an expansion into the over-the-counter drug marketplace with the addition of many OTC brands. The report also suggests that the pharmaceutical category is extremely healthy for one very ironic reason: people are getting sicker. "The good news is people are getting sicker," says Hugh White, managing director of Kantar's MARS unit.
Largely due to the aging of the U.S. population, as well as obesity, Americans are simply experiencing more ailments that require drug remedies - both OTC and prescription drugs. In fact, the latest version of the MARS study includes data on three new disease states: social anxiety disorders, bi-polar disease, and eating disorders.
And despite the negative publicity associated with a few high-profile drugs last fall, the pharmaceutical industry continues to release new drugs and step up marketing expenditures for all drugs, especially on television and the Web.
The new MARS study shows all that marketing is having an effect. The percentage of consumers who have made an appointment with a doctor as a result of seeing an ad has increased to 42 percent in 2005 from only 36 percent in 2002.
The study also shows that the Internet has become a powerful force for drug-related marketing. The percentage of consumers who go online for information about treating ailments has risen to 32 percent in 2005 from 26 percent in 2002, while the percentage of medications purchased over the Internet has increased 62 percent over the past five years.
Not surprisingly, the Internet indexes among the most used media by the most active healthcare consumers. But in a surprising finding, the actual effectiveness of the Internet as a healthcare ad medium may have hit a plateau. Only 26 percent of people using the Web for healthcare information could recall an ad, the same percentage as 2004. The biggest increase in drug ad recall occurred with television, which rose to 72 percent of viewers in 2005, up from 69 percent in 2004 and only 65 percent in 2003. Magazines, Sunday supplements, and outdoor experienced waning recall levels. The Internet and radio were flat. Newspapers improved one percentage point to a recall level of 29 percent.