Brand names are important in the consumer healthcare context. They hold a vow of quality, help build public trust, and are part of everyday life.
What is a brand?
A brand is more than just a trade name on a box. Self-care products are freely purchased by people looking to meet their health needs. Because of their safety profile, they can be acquired through various retail channels. Manufacturers must therefore ensure that their product is easily recognizable and conveys all necessary information for responsible use.
They do so, for example, by including on the packaging and labelling:
- distinctive colours, fonts and configuration;
- indication(s) for which the product is to be used;
- the name of the active ingredient(s) contained, as well as dose, form and pack size of the product;
- warnings, such as “not for” messages, when specific population groups could be put at risk;
- icons or other visual imagery to draw attention to key differences and/or safety information.
Brands and packaging are important elements ensuring that self-care products are used responsibly by the persons buying them.
The value of brands for people
A brand name (and logo) helps revive a person’s awareness of a product they might have used in the past or have seen on advertising. It helps them in their decision-making when they are pursuing healthcare needs.
Several studies and research already recognise the importance of brands to the public:
- An independent shopper study conducted by Queen’s University in Northern Ireland in 2009 found that nearly 80% of surveyed people chose a particular non-prescription medicine because they were familiarized with the brand name.
- A 2014 study by Aker, et al., supported by the Consumer Healthcare Products Association in the United States, found that, at the time of purchase, a majority of respondents look for a brand they know and trust. Nearly all respondents (87%) use the brand name of the self-care product when trying to find the solution they need. Over 75% state they typically use the same brands repeatedly and are loyal to brands, most often because of their demonstrated effectiveness.
- Consumer research on self-care products conducted in 2018 by BACHI, the Belgian Consumer Healthcare Products Association, found that 77% of respondents tend to always buy the same brands of non-prescription medicines. “Having a good experience with the brand” was reported by 53% of respondents as the element having the most weight when choosing the same brand again, followed by the pharmacist’s (46%) and the doctor’s (44%) recommendations.
Communication (including advertising) improves public awareness of treatment options available to them and, subsequently, their health literacy. People develop a bond with brands because brands are the focal point of communication and advertising.
Brands and trust are two sides of the same coin
Through a brand, manufacturers convey a promise of quality and the commitment to provide safe and effective products. The self-care industry innovates by developing trusted brands, not only through the creation of new self-care products (for example, after a change of legal status from prescription to non-prescription) but also through the improvement of products already on the self-care market.
The development, launch and maintenance of self-care products require significant investments. Well-known brands, that have stood the test of time, are the greatest asset of the self-care industry. Manufacturers often create a family of products under the same brand by adding or substituting ingredients adapted to different contexts. In doing so, they ensure that their products fit better the consumers’ needs. They open the door to innovative variations, such as an improvement in taste, easier use, an improved formulation or packaging technology, a longer duration of action, a different mode of action, multiple symptom management, etc.
Brands are an essential pillar of responsible self-care
Manufacturers of self-care products support this mission by enhancing their brand’s distinctiveness or by promoting advertising, point of sale materials, online information and supporting materials for pharmacists, among other resources.
Brands, and their related materials, help mitigate risks of confusion or misuse of a self-care product. Their value must be fully recognised by all stakeholders, in the same way as it is already appreciated by the public, in its role of facilitating the choice and responsible use of self-care products.