Consumer healthcare: don’t fear talking science

Health is now a top-three priority (up from 12th pre-pandemic) in the UK. This increased interest has led to a deluge of health-related content bombarding us, often with conflicting messages.

It’s getting harder for consumers to distinguish between accurate information and hearsay. Therefore, and quite rightly, they want effective, data-driven, science-backed health and wellness solutions they can trust. And they want this in and above clean or natural products with no such evidence – a trend identified by McKinsey.

Yet most feel they don’t have the confidence, knowledge or understanding needed to take control of their health. Right now, nearly half of Gen Z and millennials are turning to TikTok and YouTube over and above online or a GP, and a third of Gen Z trust TikTok more than a doctor.

While the use of social media to gather health information makes it simpler and quicker to find, the chance for misinformation is higher than talking to a doctor or using a validated online source.

So, what can brands do about this?

The opportunity is to bring efficacy to the fore by placing a stronger emphasis on the scientific evidence behind their products. And by making the science simple, reputable brands can make it easier for consumers to see the value in their products.

This is a win-win situation for the consumer and for reputable brands. With efficacy data to support marketing, consumers will benefit from proven products. The second win is that it will discourage people buying products that have dubious or no substantiated claim and no proven health outcomes.

But how should brands communicate?

  1. Approach consumers in the right way: this heightened interest in efficacy can be used as a hook to educate and empower the consumer, the brand becoming a gateway to and a trusted source of accurate health information – and, ultimately, the tool to strengthen customer trust and loyalty.
  2. Build credibility: this includes brands listening to the needs of their audiences, responding with authority, and collaborating with influential and accredited individuals, groups and businesses to ensure messages resonate.
  3. Provide information to consumers in a way that builds trust and provides knowledge to empower self-care and fact-based decision-making – it’s all about the science.

When it comes to communicating complex science in a simple way, pharma and life sciences leads the charge. While red tape limits (and with good reason) free-flowing communication around drugs with lay audiences, much can be learned from the approaches used to talk about the evidence for drugs and applied to consumer health products. It’s a rarely tapped-into approach with immense potential.

Wise brands that set out to drive empowerment by emphasising the science behind their products to educate (not promote to) their customers will build all-important trust that leads to improvement in the brand-to-customer relationship, sales and longer-term loyalty.

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