Pharma, take note: Millennials plan to spend more on meds, study says

survey
COVID-19 has concerned consumers planning to spend more on prescription drugs—especially younger people. (Pixabay)

The COVID-19 pandemic has millennials worried—and that has them planning to buy more prescription drugs in the future, new research finds.

WPP's global media group, Mindshare, began surveying consumers in mid-March to find out what people were thinking about the then-emerging pandemic.

The finding? A lot of concerned consumers. But Mindshare also found that the more consumers worry about their health, the more they plan to spend on medications, Alexis Fragale, Mindshare's director of consumer insights, said. 

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Overall, 77% of those surveyed planned to increase spending or spend the same amount on prescription medications.

However, when analyzed by generation, 26% of millennials—compared with only 9% of baby boomers—said they expect to increase their spending. It's not that boomers will spend less85% expect to spend the same amount. They just aren't likely to buy more. For comparison, 41% of millennials expect to keep their spending steady.

RELATED: Drugmakers struggle to meet demand for antidepressant Zoloft amid COVID-19

While researchers didn’t ask why, Fragale thinks that COVID-19 has had a substantial impact on people’s mental health. Prescription medicines are a broad category, and since respondents didn’t specify which medicines they were planning to buy, the drugs could be anything from contraceptives to antidepressants, she pointed out. Still, it's an opportunity for pharma to reach the younger market.

Millennials are more inclined to pay more attention to their overall health, Fragale said. That means "they are probably are a bit more receptive to messaging and awareness."

Other respondents Mindshare surveyed who are also changing plans to spend more on prescription medicine after COVID-19 include 37% of Hispanic consumers, 32% of Black consumers and 29% of Asian consumers, compared with 22% of white consumers.

Another part of the survey focused on Americans' opinions on brand involvement in taking action during COVID-19. Pharma and healthcare tied at the top of the list with 71% of respondents saying they should be involved. The study characterized involvement as donation of supplies, such as basic necessities for communities in need, safe plans for customers upon reopening and tips on how to be healthy during quarantine.

RELATED:  Roche aims its first Ocrevus commercials at millennials, encouraging them to take charge

So along with giving the expected donations and advocacy support during the pandemic, pharma companies should also consider content, Fragale said. While it may seem obvious to create more positive messages, third-party research shows that for people with chronic conditions, for instance, "optimism can play a key role in helping people cope with pain and counteract some of the negative emotions," Fragale said.

"One thing that brands can do, at least in the chronic conditions space, is to not only keep that in mind for their creative messaging, but to show up in more positive media environments," she added.

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