From the perspective of a non-professional, a consumer of pharmacy products, and therefore, from the perspective of marketing analysis, prescription drugs and natural remedies presented as a “therapeutic agents”¯ are indistinguishable from each other (Kim & Park, 2010; Harker & Harker, 2007). In this respect, they are competitors in the pharmacy market and compete with each other in the struggle for the buyer. For instance, a study by Balch and Stengler (2011) showed that about 25% of respondents consider BAAs as “almost drugs”¯, and 60% of respondents indicate that they should be prescribed by doctors just as medications.
In contrast to other product categories, the target audience of drugs is practically not separated by gender, age, social status, etc., as anyone may need most medications at any moment (Faerber & Kreling, 2012). Therefore, all categories of population should receive information about them. Indeed, the advertising of pharmaceutical products has a wide audience with women as its prevailing majority, who are also a driving factor in making the decision on purchasing a particular drug in the family (Harker & Harker, 2007). The main factors deciding on the purchase of a drug are: personal past experience, advice of a doctor or pharmacist, advertising in the media, advice of relatives, acquaintances, annotation to the drug, convenience of a drug’s form. It should also be noted that the reasons for changes in purchasing decisions can be a lack of the necessary drug in the pharmacy, unacceptable price, consultation of a pharmacist, etc. (Kim & Park, 2010; Harker & Harker, 2007; Faerber & Kreling, 2012).
When promoting non-prescription medicines as natural remedies aimed mainly at people, the main goals are achieved by well known and proven methods: creating a brand and maintaining loyalty to it (public advertising), sales promotions at point of sale (merchandising, interior advertising, promotions, incentive games, etc.). Further, we will consider the peculiarities of promoting natural remedies and market them through media, including social media networks.
Marketing program for natural remedies promotion
In determining what factors affect the purchasing behavior in choosing certain drugs, the following figures of the importance of factors were obtained: advice of friends and relatives – 23%, pharmacists’ recommendations – 22%, own experience – 21%, advertising in the press – 17%, price – 12%, advertising on TV – 9%, medical literature – 8%; recognition of the drug – 5%, annotation to the drug – 4%, manufacturer – 2% (Harker & Harker, 2007).
Thus, the print advertising contains the greatest variety of genres: life story, interview, women’s story, expert advice, response to questioning letter, article, note, recommendations (Faerber & Kreling, 2012). According to Faerber and Kreling (2012), the most popular genre in the advertising of medicines is an article posted in printed media as advertising; the second most popular which could be applied in our case is the genre of “expert advice”¯ and “response to questioning letter.”¯ An interesting fact is that the advertising material in these genres can be presented under the guise of non-advertising. For example, a doctor of pharmacy can advise patients on a certain issue, and mention some natural remedy in the text thus promoting it.
Advertising on television is the most effective way to inform consumers about the medication. Television combines sound, text, and picture, which subsequently allows the buyer to identify the right drug from the genres of television ads, commercials, promotional video or TV program (Faerber & Kreling, 2012). For example, a program about natural medicines can be organized on the basis of a combination of techniques: demonstration + life story + expert advice + celebrity’s acknowledgement. The program has a permanent host – a doctor, a specialist in the field of homeopathy or herbal remedies, who identifies the problem in the beginning (disease, aging, temporary medical difficulties) which can be solved by taking the advertised drug. Host’s speech is constantly supplemented by cues of a constantly participating specialist, Professor, Ph.D., and illustrated by life stories.
One of the most effective approaches today is placing advertising campaign in the Internet. Currently, Internet users are the audience of 18 and older, the most active audience is 25-34 years old (Harker & Harker, 2007). In general, these are not the consumers of pharmacy assortment, but rather independent people who make their choice in favor of acquiring the necessary preparations. In particular the interactive character of actively developing social networks like Facebook or Twitter help organize interest groups, flash advertising blocks and instant sharing of content on product. One of the ways to lead this campaign in spreading messages on maintaining health status of the generation by taking in natural remedies and BAA instead of prescription drugs which are stressing the advantages of natural remedies. Such messages / articles / publications / statuses may be asked to be liked and shared, retwitted or followed by subscribers of a specially created community.
Besides, Internet advertisement of natural remedies may be presented in Internet medical journals or websites of Internet pharmacies, which is easy to perform with natural remedies as they do not need prescription. In this case, it should be marked that the advantages of e-commerce include non-stop mode, reduced advertising costs, outdistancing the competitors, extensive marketing opportunities, accessibility for people who do not leave the house, the opportunity to study a variety of websites in search of better drugs. The obvious advantage of online pharmacies is that, unlike ordinary pharmacies, all clients are in the internet database that allows maintaining a long relationship and transferring any necessary information to the customer for further offers like making subscription for news, getting free newsletter, joining community, etc.