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Natural Health Products – Perceptions

A typical natural health product consumer is a well-educated millennial woman with a high annual income. This individual uses natural health products for minor ailments like cough and believes these products are better, since they are natural.
While Cold-FX, Echinaforce, Emergen-C, and BioK Probiotics target healthcare professionals through medical conventions and their salesforce, as COVID-19 intensifies, these companies are increasingly leveraging digital marketing.

NATURAL HEALTH PRODUCT CONSUMERS – DEMOGRAPHICS

Age

  • Based on a study by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices Canada, younger Canadians are more likely to purchase natural health products than older consumers.
  • As described in the study, older consumers in Canada are hesitant about natural health products because they consider these products “new.”
  • A different study revealed than younger Canadians, particularly those below 39 years old, are more likely to take natural health products.
  • Millennials, in particular, are consuming natural health products than other cohorts.

Gender

  • Based on several studies, in Canada, women account for the majority of natural health product consumers.
  • Females in Canada are taking more vitamins and supplements than their male counterparts.

Income

  • Canadians with higher level of income are more likely to take supplements, vitamins, and minerals, or use it for their kids.
  • Consuming natural health products like vitamins and supplements is linked to a higher quality diet, which is a luxury to Canadians with low income.

Educational Level

  • People who take natural health products are well educated.
  • These individuals have at least a high school diploma, with most having a college degree.

NATURAL HEALTH PRODUCT CONSUMERS – PSYCHOGRAPHICS

Psychographics of Personal Use Consumers

  • The major factors that influence the purchase of natural health products among Canadians who buy them are price, promotions, and advice from a pharmacist. These individuals consume them because they believe they are safer, fueled by claims of these products being natural.
  • Some Canadian consumers believe that natural health products which are found in pharmacies are “already made,” thus making them “less natural.”
  • In general, Canadians tend to be more careful with natural health products than medications. These individuals do a lot of research and seek advice from their physicians or pharmacists before taking them, as they need to trust the source of natural health products.
  • It appears these consumers consider the recommendation of their physician or doctor important, in reference to natural health products. Some Canadians – especially older consumers – say the reason they do not take these products often is because they are rarely recommended by their doctors.
  • Canadian consumers who take natural health products like vitamins tend to consume them long term. They put more thought and research into the specific natural health products they consume.
  • Some Canadian consumers “feel that vitamins are what the body need,” while the “body does not need” medications (e.g., pain relief) and so some will “tough it out without taking it” for as long as possible before taking OTC medications.” When it comes to natural health products, they believe that there are a confusing number of choices.
  • Almost 70% of Canadians who purchase natural health products buy them from health or vitamin stores, with only 38% buying them from community stores. The most trusted sources of information among Canadians who purchase these products for personal use include the internet (64%), friends and family (47%), books/magazines/newspapers (44%), and naturopathic doctors (41%).
  • These products are more commonly used for minor ailments like cough and indigestion. Almost 45% of Canadian consumers would rather take a natural health product than a prescribed medication for these minor ailments.
  • Almost 50% of Canadian consumers who take natural health products spend less than $25 monthly on them.

Psychographics of Canadian Parents

  • Canadian consumers are more careful when purchasing natural health products for their children than they are when purchasing it for personal use. These consumers prioritize natural health products with vitamins for their kids.
  • One study showed that almost 50% of Canadian parents reported using natural health products in their children, this number dropped to less than 30% when “vitamins are not included in the definition of natural health products.”
  • A different study revealed that 61.1% of parents in Canada who use natural health products for their kids use vitamins. Among those who use vitamins, 89% use multivitamins, while 16% use vitamin D, and 5% use vitamin C for their kids.
  • Canadian parents who use natural health products for their children mainly use them to maintain the general health of their children (50.6%), prevent colds (11.7%), and boost the immune system of their children. Most use vitamin C (often with echinacea) to prevent colds and infections in their kids.
  • Almost half of Canadian parents who use these products start using them on their kids when they are between ages 1 to 4.
  • Among Canadians who use natural health products for their kids, the most important source of information when it comes to these products is family or friends (36.1%), with physician, including pediatrician being a distant second (17.8%).
  • Regarding where they purchase these products, almost 70% buy them from drug stores, while 19% purchase them from natural health stores.
  • Over 30% of consumers who use natural health products in Canada spend more than $50 per month on these products.
  • It appears Canadian consumers who use these products for their kids do not use them long term. Some mention that they find it difficult to get their kids to like these products, while others simply forget to always give their kids these products regularly.

NATURAL HELATH PRODUCT COMPANIES LEVERAGING DIGITAL MARKETING

1. COLDFX

  • Cold-FX targets Canadians who are active or try to maintain a healthy lifestyle as its social media pages feature people working out, eating healthy meals, and engaging in various sports, while taking its product.
  • It appears the brand also targets mothers as several mothers are featured on its website and social media pages. Cold-FX targets busy professionals as well.
  • The brand promotes its products to pharmacies and wholesalers through its sales force and through distributors. It also uses direct to customer advertising and direct mailings to reach pharmacies. However, its main promotional strategy is partnerships.
  • Cold-FX has struck partnerships with several pharmacies in Canada. The brand describes itself as the number one pharmacist and doctor recommended natural cold remedy brand.
  • Cold-FX has partnerships with athletic and sports organizations in the country as well. In 2019, the brand became the “official cold and flu partner and product” for Canada’s national team racers by partnering with Alpine Canada.
  • The brand mentioned wanting to “help skiers make the most of their time on the slopes and spend less with a cold and flu.” Through the partnership, the brand was also able to launch unique promotions with the ski community, such as distributing ski neck buffs at ski shows. Cold-FX partners with athletes like Marie-Michèle Gagnon as well.
  • It uses social media marketing to target mothers, workout enthusiasts, and busy professionals. Within the past year alone, it has released at least five ads on YouTube. These ads are videos of the different types of people who using its products. In a video titled “Cold & Flu Season Support for the No Excuses Squad,” it features a woman doing high intensity workouts. This video has over a million views on YouTube.
  • In a different video titled “Cold & Flu Season Support for Mind-Body Balancers,” women doing yoga are featured. The brand features a man skiing in a video titled “Cold & Flu Season Support for Get-Outside Gang.” The video now has more than three million views.
  • Cold-Fx has products for children aged 12 and above. The brand has testimonials of mothers who use these products for their kids.

2. EMERGEN-C

  • Emergen-C is most popular among millennials, particularly those between ages 25 to 34, closely followed by those under 24 years old. The brand is reportedly more consumed by women than men.
  • The brand targets people with an active lifestyle as evidenced by its social media pages and websites, which feature people running, hiking, doing yoga/Pilates, and working out. It markets to these individuals through TV commercials and social media advertising.
  • Emergen-C also targets parents, as it has products for kids. It has done some animated TV commercials within the last few years, including one titled “Keeping Up with the kids.”
  • Another approach Emergen-C uses is brand ambassadors. The company’s brand ambassadors tour North America offering samples of its products to active lifestylers.
  • It sponsors events, including marathons, music festivals, Frisbee tournaments, and unicycle races as well.
  • Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the brand has switched its marketing to digital. In April, it released a campaign titled “Emerge Our Best,” which it used to promote “everyday wellness and daily behaviors that can aid in creating healthy habits.”
  • Emergen-C leverages social media marketing to target Canadian Consumers. In 2019, it ran an ad on Facebook about its new product, Emergen-C Immune+. The ad’s tagline was “strike before the sniffles do with the delicious Blueberry-acai Emergen-C Immune+.”
  • On YouTube, it has released several video ads within the past year that target active lifestylers. In December 2019, it published a video ad titled “Emerge Your Best with Emergen-C,” which features athletes, a chef, and a yogi, with the message “every Emergen-C gives a potent blend of nutrients to emerge your best.”
  • It is unclear how Emergen-C targets pharmacists, physicians, and pediatricians, as the brand has not mentioned this. However, on LinkedIn, it has numerous sales professionals and distributors, most of who reach out to these health care providers. Some pediatricians have featured Emergen-C on their websites.

3. BIO-K PROBIOTICS

  • Bio-K targets consumers wanting to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and mothers through social media marketing, its blog, and Google paid ads. Its Instagram page mainly features families and people working out, while taking its product.
  • It appears a lot of mothers in Canada use Bio-K’s products for their kids, as its social media platforms feature testimonials of several mothers. The brand has a product called Strawberry Bio-Kidz.
  • In a July 2020 post, Bio-K featured a mother who claims her daughter loves the product and likes that the color is pink.
  • Bio-K leverages Facebook ads as well. It currently runs an ad on Facebook featuring a lady in beach clothing with the message “Looking for a healthy snack for the weekend? Why not bring your favorite Bio-K + to drink at the beach.” The ad is in French and targets consumers in Canada.
  • The brand uses its blog for search engine optimization purposes and to share positive stories of people who use its products.
  • It maintains a strong presence at medical conventions and events to target healthcare providers, hospitals, health food stores, grocery stores, and pharmacies. Bio-K claims its products is the number one brand recommended by pharmacists.
  • Bio-K has sponsored a lot of clinical trials showing the efficacy of its products.

4. ECHINAFORCE BY A.VOGEL

  • A.Vogel targets high income mothers for its Echinaforce product line. Its promotional efforts in Canada include influencer marketing, social media marketing, and search engine marketing.
  • The brand has several ads on YouTube, some of which are specific to its Echinaforce product. In a YouTube ad published by A.Vogel in December 2018, it featured a mother taking Echinaforce and giving the Echinaforce Kidz chewable tablet to her son. It mentions in this ad that its product is clinically proven to help prevent and treat colds and flu.
  • While A.Vogel currently runs several ads on Facebook, none of these ads are about its Echinaforce product.
  • The brand recently partnered with Mommy Connections, a Canadian organization that offers an opportunity for mothers to connect with other moms and try new activities, while bonding with their babies.
  • The organization posted a tweet sponsored by A.Vogel: “On our Mexico trip, we used Echinaforce Jr to keep our immune systems strong. We all had sore throats after the plane ride there but kept colds at bay by using these. I love that they are chewable, my son thinks I’m feeding him candy.”
  • To increase awareness, the brand has hosted brunch or breakfast sessions, where it gathered influencers who are mothers and shared the benefits of Echinaforce for colds and flu.
  • A.Vogel leverages out of home advertising for Echinaforce as well, including billboards and posters. It has a lifestyle blog which it uses to help consumers wanting to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • In Canada, A.Vogel’s Echinaforce partners with most pharmacies, health food stores, and supermarkets. In February 2019, it partnered with The Tau Market, a health food store in Canada for a Facebook Contest and Giveaway.
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