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Developing A Healthy Media Strategy for Cough and Cold Brands | WMI

26 Feb 2016 Ann D'Adamo

in Health & Wellness,


Almost 85% of American adults report having at least one cold during the winter months and more than half say that having a cold significantly impacts their daily life. While feeling unwell is nothing to sneeze at, consumers say that an average of one to two missed days at work or school and a loss of productivity are the among the most unwelcome side effects. Because most consumers consider colds to be a seasonal annoyance, not a serious illness, they self-treat instead of consulting a health professional. Here, we look at how consumers (try to) cure the common cold and how OTC brands can develop a media strategy to better market to them.

From Cough Medicine to Chicken Soup: How Consumers Treat Colds

Instead of seeking the advice of a doctor, Americans tend to treat the common cold with over-the-counter medications. A recent survey found that almost 78% purchase cough-cold medicines to alleviate symptoms. But consumers also turn to natural methods to help them recover: 77% say they stay hydrated and rest, 45% take a vitamin C supplement, and 35% take other immunity-boosting supplements. And, we can’t forget the soothing effect of homemade chicken soup! One-third of respondents agree that Grandma’s chicken soup is indeed the best medicine.

Shopping for Cold-Cough Products

While it’s no surprise that more than half of consumers find relief at their local drug stores, almost a quarter of respondents also shop for cold-cough products at big box or discount stores. More than 80% said they purchased a cough-cold remedy in the past year and over a third remain loyal to products and brands that have helped them in the past. Of those that didn’t purchase any OTC cold remedies, 40% said they avoid taking medications for any reason, 30% said they hadn’t been ill during the time period, and 20% said their medicine cabinets were already fully stocked. Because brand loyalty in this category is so high, there is an opportunity for marketers to utilize sample sizes and other promotions to introduce products to consumers, and targeted advertising to remind them to stock up before and during the season.

Looking for Help

Although consumers say that having a good experience with a product is the primary purchase driver, 42% said that recommendations from experts, such as a doctor or pharmacist, would also influence their decision. Good word-of-mouth from family and trusted friends would also influence 25% of those surveyed. However, less than 2% of respondents looked to social media as a source of information. Analysts believe that this may be due to a lack of engagement by cough-cold brands on social media. Increasing engagement may be key in driving growth for OTC brands. The combination of recommendations from health professionals and consumer reviews on top social media sites may be a winning one for influencing consumer decisions.

Studies also found that when selecting a cold remedy, 71% of consumers look for medications that treat specific symptoms such as runny nose, congestion, or cough. While this may work for consumers when treating a cold, it’s not a method that’s recommended for marketers. At Women’s Marketing we take a holistic approach to media, selecting the best mix to reach your target consumer at every touchpoint throughout her day. Learn how we can help you develop a strategic media plan and market to women effectively and efficiently. Contact us today for an evaluation of your brand’s media strategy.

Sources: United States Attitudes of Consumers toward Health, Cough, and Cold Survey, ECRM and HellaWella’s Cough Cold Survey, 2015


Health & Wellness