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Influence time on OTC purchases shrinking

The window of opportunity to influence an OTC product purchase today is shrinking fast as more shoppers turn to the Internet on their desktops or smartphones to research their health conditions, WebMD’s Jennifer Willey, VP consumer strategy and partnerships, shared with Drug Store News.

(To read the entire WebMD Special Report, click here.)

To better understand how consumers are making purchasing decisions — and the factors that are driving those decisions — WebMD conducted its “OTC Path to Purchase” study last year, and analyzed the implications for marketers in the self-care space.

“When someone is much more informed, it becomes really critical for the brand to talk to those audiences [and] provide the content those consumers are looking for,” Willey told DSN. More than half of the time (55%), it’s a news story on a relevant condition or new product that served as an impetus for that health information search, Willey noted. As many as 60% begin that research online, with 66% of those searchers turning to health information sites.

“As consumers do get further down that purchase funnel, they want information on product reviews; details on the products, coupons and offers; and price comparisons,” Willey said. “It becomes critical for the brands to provide that information to the consumer, whether they’re standing in the aisle with mobile phone in hand — which 60% of consumers are doing — or if they’re online looking for that information before they get into the store.”

Once a consumer begins the research, the clock starts ticking. Because within three hours — or less than 25 minutes in the case of consumers shopping exclusively on the Internet — those consumers pull the trigger on that OTC purchase. This is a critical moment for marketers, Willey said, because 39% of them are looking to switch brands. “Remember, most of them started on this journey because they saw some news [or] marketing,” she said.

One key takeaway, at least for OTC purchases in 2016, is that the majority of those transactions are happening within retail. “People are still shopping in the store,” noted Brian Owens, director of retail insights at Kantar Retail. “The role of front store is still relevant for [brand marketers].” In fact, today, as many as 90% of those purchases initially researched online are taking place at retail.
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