In a nation where pharmaceutical product costs are unpredictably fluctuating, consumers, the NHS and pharmacies, are feeling the brunt of it. The NHS is crippled by the price points of certain drugs and medical supplies, and whilst consumers are first to complain about the costs of prescriptions, they would soon understand by reading into the costs behind the scenes.
Similarly, in the retail market global brands are fighting for the monopoly of shelf space but maintaining premium costs. However, consumers are gifted with more of a choice in this realm. In the past few years private label brands, offering cheaper alternatives, have earnt themselves a gateway and many consumers have been happy to embrace them. In the supermarket retail sector, we are living in the world of the ‘alternative consumer’, where many have moved past the perception that private labels and cheaper brands are low quality and are instead seen as a smart bargain.
Yet, arguably when it comes to pharmaceutical and health products, we haven’t quite got to where we want to be with this perception. There has still been a reluctance to purchase cheaper alternatives of generic drugs such as paracetamol, which can be bought for as little as 19p over the counter. The NHS has even clamped down on the ability to write prescriptions for over the counter products after it was revealed to be costing them around £136 million a year for prescriptions for medicines that can be bought from a pharmacy or supermarket1. The same perception challenges are felt by healthcare brands with conceivably lower price points.
Darren Collett-Mills, Managing Director of Axis Medicare Ltd. and Early Bird Swift, the home pregnancy and fertility test brand, shares his view on why lower price point healthcare products should not be overlooked by consumers.
“When we look at consumer behaviour, in the past and present, it’s evident that the retail cost of a product can affect the perception of its quality. Whilst some retail sectors have found solutions to this, the healthcare sector is still somewhat challenged. Many consumers assume that the same quality will not be achieved, when in fact the technology or formula behind a premium product and a regular product can often be very similar. This can certainly be said of the pregnancy test market, where tests need to have undergone thorough laboratory testing to even get to market. For example, our Early Bird Swift test is proven over 99% accurate, and it is a lower price point than some others in the market but still capable of delivering critical results. Accuracy is a priority for our market’s customers, and I think more attention needs to be given to demonstrating to them that their needs come first and we as an industry assure quality is at the forefront of our products.”
“In the healthcare industry, new players are entering the market regularly. Consumers are naturally attracted to fresh thinking brands and new product technology, even if they hold a premium price tag. Some consumers even find the higher price a more attractive feature in their purchasing decision. Therefore, some long serving brands with lower price points may feel that they are sometimes overlooked. How often do consumers consider the years of experience that may be held by these brands and the development time that has gone into perfecting a product? The importance of brand experience is not always recognised, but it should be seen as a reassurance for consumers.”
“Some products’ purposes are to be bold and impressive. In the healthcare market, a product’s performance and ability to serve its purpose is essential. Consumer-brand identification may sway a customer to pick one brand over another, but if a product is a necessity requirement as opposed to a lifestyle brand, you would think simplicity would appeal as a priority. This can particularly be the case for pregnancy tests, where consumers need clarity via a product with ease of use, with minimum fuss.”