Health and Pharma: A roundup of global trends and insights for 2023 – Part 1
December 18th, 2023, Bhavika Bansal

Health and Pharma: A roundup of global trends and insights for 2023 – Part 1

As a global data company with more than 22 million registered panellists, YouGov is uniquely positioned to provide the health and pharma industry with comprehensive and up-to-the-minute insights from more than 45 markets across the world.

Part one of our end-of-the-year global round-up covers insights into how the cost-of-living crisis shaped consumer attitudes in the health and pharma sector, international trends in shopping for prescribed medication and healthcare products, and consumer trust in the healthcare industry.

Healthcare spending in the age of cost-of-living cutbacks

Despite seemingly easing inflationary pressures at the start of the year, consumers across the world continued to grapple with cost-of-living challenges to varying degrees throughout 2023. In March, nearly half of Britons indicated that they noticed increased healthcare costs, as did 53% of Americans, 38% of our Nordic respondents and 58% of adults in the UAE. Furthermore, global polls – conducted across 18 markets – revealed that a majority of international consumers expected that the prices of healthy foods and wellness products (38% a lot and 41% a little) and gym memberships (58%) would increase over the next 12 months. Notably, almost a fifth of adults in India and the UAE expected to take on debt in 2023 to cover their healthcare spends compared to just 2% of Britons and Danes.

The end of the year, however, saw a more positive outlook among consumers internationally, with just 19% saying they expect to spend more on medication and other healthcare products in the next six months compared to the previous six months.

Branded drugs still hold considerable sway over consumers

One of the major factors driving demand for the less expensive versions of medications is the stark price disparity between branded and generic drugs. But despite their higher prices, more than a quarter of consumers across markets still prefer branded drugs - especially in Mexico (39%), India (44%) and the UAE (44%).

Trends in shopping for medicines and healthcare products

Wellness and self-care emerged as big themes for consumers in the post pandemic world - more than two-fifths of consumers globally say they use health and beauty products to make themselves feel better (43%) or look better (49%). Amidst this backdrop of today's wellness focussed market, data from YouGov Global Profiles—an advanced audience segmentation tool covering 48 markets around the world - uncovered key insights for the global oral care and personal care market.

Consumer-generated reviews, endorsements by social media influencers and recommendations from family and friends are ubiquitous when choosing medicines and healthcare services. More than half of consumers globally say word-of-mouth helps them while they're picking healthcare services. On the other hand, they are much less likely to believe the same when it comes to discovering new drugs.

With medication nonadherence becoming a common problem, YouGov also polled over 19,000 consumers across 18 international markets for a better understanding of the most prevalent barriers faced by prescription medicine users, what factors consumers research before buying their medications and the channels they use to conduct their research.

While the price benefits and other conveniences of online shopping are many, the benefits of in-store shopping - immediacy and the ability to browse and compare products side-by-side - are undeniable too. This is perhaps why year-over-year trended data from a global YouGov poll – conducted in 18 markets in 2022 and 2023 – revealed that global consumers remain divided on whether they prefer to shop for over-the-counter medicines and health and beauty products in-person or online.

Consumer trust in medical professionals and healthcare products

Navigating conflicting information around critical items like health and pharmaceutical products can be especially tricky. But for 43% of our internationally polled respondents, the guidance of medical professionals and pharmacists is a reliable source for expert opinions. This trust in medical professionals goes beyond information about healthcare products and medication. Doctors that have treated consumers before or are known to them personally (59%) and doctors in general (43%) are trusted sources for consumers seeking knowledge about medical treatments.

Product recalls by medicine and medical product brands were found to have a lasting impact on brand loyalty, with nearly half of consumers saying concerns about safety and product quality are the main factor that dissuades them from buying from a brand again after such a recall.

Continue reading part 2 of YouGov's health roundup series to explore more topics from the Health and Pharma industry that we covered this year.

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