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Study of Consumer's Pharmaceutical Buying Behavior Towards Prescription and Non-Prescription Drugs

Authors:
  • Spectrum Hi Pharmacy College
  • Dayanand Dinanath Group of Institutions

Abstract and Figures

A survey based study was performed on diversely located peoples to know how they choose their medicine. The aim of the research was to find out about factors influencing the customer's choice of prescription & non-prescription medicines. The aim was also to understand and explore consumer behavior and to relate it to pharmaceutical awareness. The research questionnaire has been used for the survey study with major questions as: what's the source of information people choose about pharmaceutical product? What influences purchasing behavior for choice of medicines? and What influences choice of medicine for treatment of common ailments viz. Common G.I disorder, Fever & common pain related problems, Skin /hair related problems, Dental problems and Common wounds /cuts or injuries? The results were found very interesting as only 61% people choose pharmaceutical product's as per advice of their physician, while other information sources do affect people. On the other hand the purchasing behavior of medicines majorly affected for 38% as prescribed by physician, 14% as per pharmacist, 20% people purchase branded drug, 16% generic products, while 5% people make decision on cost of medicines and 7% on easy availability. For common ailments data were found as, people bypass the physician's prescription and 20% people go for most branded medicines. Similarly Pharmacist's advice is of no matter, even about 15-20% people go for home remedies. The survey reveals the fact that people wants medication as per their own choice and pricing. The physician's or pharmacist's suggestion is not of as much concern over money.
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Please cite this article as: Pujari NM et al., Study of Consumer’s Pharmaceutical Buying Behavior
Towards Prescription and Non-Prescription Drugs. Journal of Medical and Health Research 2016.
JOURNAL OF MEDICAL AND HEALTH
RESEARCH 2016 (01):03
ISSN:
ABCD-8888
RESEARCH
ARTICLE
Study of Consumer’s Pharmaceutical Buying Behavior Towards
Prescription and Non-Prescription Drugs
Neelkanth M Pujari1*, Anupam K Sachan1, Puja Kumari1, Priyanka Dubey1
1. Dayanand Dinanath College, Institute of Pharmacy, Kanpur, India
ABSTRACT
A survey based study was performed on diversely located peoples to know how they choose their
medicine. The aim of the research was to find out about factors influencing the customer’s choice
of prescription & non-prescription medicines. The aim was also to understand and explore
consumer behavior and to relate it to pharmaceutical awareness. The research questionnaire has
been used for the survey study with major questions as: what’s the source of information people
choose about pharmaceutical product? What influences purchasing behavior for choice of
medicines? and What influences choice of medicine for treatment of common ailments viz.
Common G.I disorder, Fever & common pain related problems, Skin /hair related problems,
Dental problems and Common wounds /cuts or injuries? The results were found very interesting as
only 61% people choose pharmaceutical product’s as per advice of their physician, while other
information sources do affect people. On the other hand the purchasing behavior of medicines
majorly affected for 38% as prescribed by physician, 14% as per pharmacist, 20% people purchase
branded drug, 16% generic products, while 5% people make decision on cost of medicines and 7%
on easy availability. For common ailments data were found as, people bypass the physician’s
prescription and 20% people go for most branded medicines. Similarly Pharmacist’s advice is of
no matter, even about 15-20% people go for home remedies. The survey reveals the fact that
people wants medication as per their own choice and pricing. The physician’s or pharmacist’s
suggestion is not of as much concern over money.
Keywords: Consumer behavior, self-medication, availability and pricing
*Corresponding Author Email: neelkanth743@rediffmail.com
Received 10 August 2016, Accepted 28 August 2016
Journal home page: http://epixpub.com/jmhr/index.php
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INTRODUCTION
The consumer is considered king in today's scenario of marketing. Gone are the days when
manufacturers could have sold anything to the consumers. Now a days it is consumer whose
buying preferences decide what should be manufactured, in what quantity and what should be the
quality of the product. Thus, a marketer has to take into account various factors while deciding on
marketing a product as consumers have different preferences and sometimes totally diverse
preferences. So the task of manufacturer and marketer becomes onerous and therefore it is very
important to understand the consumer behavior. Understanding consumer behavior is still arduous
in the field of pharmaceuticals as the target customer is not the end user but the influencer i.e. the
doctor who generates the prescription.
Background
With the pharmaceutical business growing and with some experience in a pharmaceutical working
environment, the authors have chosen to explore this field further through re-search. The pharmacy
sector has its interesting structure as medicine prices are the same in all pharmacies, and therefore
they lack in price competition in comparison to stores of the daily consumer goods trade. Today,
there are more product options as more generic medicines come out on the market and challenge
original products with their lower price. Hence, the focus of the research is on pharmacy customers
and their consumer behavior in regards to pharmacies and similarly priced over-the-counter (OTC)
medicines, thus medicines which are not on prescription. The research helps to understand current
behavior of pharmacy customers and gives an insight to the 4P’s of marketing; product, place,
price and promotion over some psychological aspects.
Before starting the study the authors found some of the facts pertaining to Pharma sector and
prescription pattern.
1. According to a survey, 70% of all prescriptions are never consumed.
2. According to consumer health information, 20% of all the new prescriptions go unfilled.
3. WHO reports the half of all the patients do not adhere to their prescribed therapy.
MATERIALS AND METHOD
The empirical research has been done with a quantitative research method to find answers to the
research questionnaire. Exactly a hundred people were surveyed using the questionnaire1 to find
out their behavior towards prescription & non-prescription drugs. The questionnaire form was two
sided and contains fourteen simple research questions, out of which six questions are used to
collect personal information about the respondent. This information however, cannot identify or be
linked to the respondent later on. Additionally the survey contains information about the purpose
Pujari et.al., Journal of Medical and Health Research 2016(01):03 ISSN:abcd:0000
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of the study and points out that participation is voluntary. The questionnaire contains closed-ended
and multiple-choice questions.2 The questions were designed to be clear so that respondents are
able to answer quickly and independently, also elderly people. All questionnaire forms, that
answered, were in English language and all forms that were used throughout the entire research are
identical.
It was considered suitable to use a questionnaire in the research since it allows collecting
information from a large amount of individuals. In order to best reach pharmacy customers
physically, of all ages, the research was not conducted online but through a paper form.
Statistical Analysis
The collected data was studied statistically using simple MS excel worksheet to find out the
percentage of results and to plot graphs for all the surveyed data.3
CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR
The term consumer behavior is defined as the behavior that consumers' display in searching for
purchasing, evaluating and dispensing of products and services that they expect will satisfy their
needs.
The behavioral sciences that have made significant contributions to the study of consumer
behavior are economics, sociology, psychology, and to some degree political science and cultural
anthropology. The modern day marketing discussion centers around the need for modern
marketing to be consumer oriented and to be concerned with the needs and wishes of the consumer
and thus, studying consumer behavior is critical, for companies, in getting success of the products
in the market.2
There are various factors which influence consumer behavior. Cultural Factors: Culture is the
fundamental determinant of a person's want and behavior. Social Factors: The social factors
includes Reference group, Family, Social status and role. Personal Factors: Various personal
factors influence consumer behavior like Age and stage in life cycle, Occupational and economic
circumstances, Lifestyle, Personality and self concept. Psychological Factors: The major
physiological factors are Motivation, Perception, Learning, Belief & attitude.
Psychographic Factor:
It is much more important to know what sort of patient has a disease that what sort of disease a
person has. This is the kind of thinking needs to have while dealing with psychographic behavior
of the consumer.
THE PURCHASING PROCESS
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Before a consumer makes a choice of product the consumer evaluates different alternatives that are
available. During this process various product attributes that the consumer associates with each
product option, can be evaluated and its importance determined. The evaluation of alternatives can
either be very extensive at times and rather narrow and fast at others. Consumers can create
different rules that help and facilitate their decision making, and decreases the amount of
information that they will process. The consumer narrows down the alternatives by the help of his
or her personal heuristic rules. These rules can be of various natures and can represent different
assumptions or mindsets. They can be related to their personal beliefs about products and
companies, if they associate product familiarity with product quality, or how they interpret product
quality based on indications that they obtain from a product’s visual appearance. Some consumers
tend to judge a book by its cover and it is common to associate high price with good quality, or to
form beliefs of product attributes based on the country of origin. Companies occasionally use
advertisement to connect their products with feeling of nostalgia, a some-times even sad longing of
the past, because these feelings that arise can influence the consumer to choose a certain product
over another. In some cases the buying behavior can turn into a habit where the consumer does not
need to put effort into making a decision. Such a buying habit can stem from a brand loyalty where
the consumer feels strongly and positively about a certain brand, and thus, makes consciously a
choice to buy a product of that particular brand. A personal connection to the brand can be
developed over time and reinforces the habitual buying behavior and makes the consumer less
prone to switch to any other brand. For other consumers the habitual buying behavior does often
come from inertia when the consumer is reluctant to put effort into the decision making process.
As a result the consumer develops behavior of buying a product out of habit. Because there is not a
strong personal connection to the product or the brand itself, the consumer is prone to switch to
other brand. The reason for a change of product can be the opportunity to easily buy another
product due to better availability or price.
All product purchases are not planned and the purchasing environment can influence the consumer
to buy products that the consumer was not intended to buy. Consumer’s some-times shop by
impulse when they can’t resist to buy a product that they all of a sudden feel a strong desire for.
The purchasing can likewise be spontaneous, where the purchase is not planned upon but the
consumer is led to buy the product because of a re-minder in the store, because the consumer is in
hurry or any other reason that incite the consumer to buy. To measure how well advertisements
affect consumer behavior and therefore sales is not an easy task. The expenditure on advertisement
as well as sales results can be compared to previous experience, or different amounts of money can
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be spent on advertisement in similar locations to measure variations in the sales results that each
location generates. It is known that many consumers are unable to recall advertisements that they
have been exposed to. This does raise a concern for the advertising company, since there is reason
to assume that the consumer may not remember the product or the advertised message at point of
purchase. However, the influence on the buying behavior of a consumer that is able to recall an
advertisement is not positive in every case. Consumers tend to not only remember advertisements
that they like, that raise strong emotions or that communicate a message that they believe in, but
also advertisements that do the opposite. Those re-called advertisements may have an unwanted
effect and makes the consumer avoid that product.4,5
Consumer Buying Decision Process
The consumer buying decision process is a five-stage purchase decision process which includes
problem recognition, information search, and evaluation of alternatives, purchase, and post-
purchase evaluation. The actual act of purchase is only one stage in the process and is not the first
stage. Not all decision processes, once initiated, lead to an ultimate purchase; the individual may
terminate the process at any stage. Not all consumer buying decisions include all five stages.6,7
Situational influences also affect the consumer buying decision process like circumstances, time,
and location. It can influence a consumer’s actions in any stage of the buying process and can
shorten, lengthen, or terminate the buying process.8
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Among surveyed data 58% people were male and 42% were female. 11% people were of age
below 18 yrs., 40% were between 19-30 yrs., 31% were between 31-45 yrs., 8% were between 45-
60 yrs. and 2% were above 60 yrs of age. The surveyed people were with different occupations, as
15% businessman, 14% self employed, 34% serviceman, 24% student, 13% unemployed.
20% of the surveyed people were having school level education or dropouts, 30% were self
employed, 31% were graduate, 19% were post graduate or higher qualified. Among them 28%
having monthly income less than or equal to 500 INR, 41% were having 5,000-10,000 INR, 11%
were having 10,000-20,000 INR and 20% people were earning more than 20,000 INR per month
Figure 1. 14% people spend <100 INR per month for prescription medicines, 23% people spend
between 100-200 INR, 35% between 200-400 INR and 20% were spend 500 INR per month for
prescription medicines Figure 2. The surveyed data of people shows that choice of physician for
common health problems is depends on different factors with statistics as; 46% choose M.D. or
highly qualified, 5% choose MBBS/BHMS/BAMS/BUMS, 2% thinks better to go to any other
popular non-qualified practitioner’s, while 11% were guided by advertisements, 5% follow
Pujari et.al., Journal of Medical and Health Research 2016(01):03 ISSN:abcd:0000
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family/friend’s suggestion and 31% were self directed Figure 3. Similarly 61% people choose
pharmaceutical product’s as per advice of their physician, 18% as per advice of pharmacist, 15%
as suggested by family/friend’s advise, 5% influenced by magazine/literature, 5% guided by
internet and 5% were self directed to choose their medicine Figure 4. On the other hand, the
purchasing behavior of medicines majorly affected for 38% as prescribed by physician, 14% as per
pharmacist, 20% people purchase branded drug, 16% generic products, while 5% people make
decision on cost of medicines and 7% on easy availability.
Figure 1 Monthly income of consumers
For common G.I. disorders (Flatulence/ Acidity/ Constipation/ Ulcer etc.), 35% data found to
follow physician’s prescription, 19% take medicines on pharmacist’s suggestion, 10% prefer home
remedies, 12% people follow family/friend’s advice, 5% follow instructions of
advertisement/literature/internet while 19% were self directed to choose their medicines. Similarly,
for fever & common pain related problems 14% data found to follow physician’s prescription,
18% take medicines on pharmacist’s suggestion, 13% prefer home remedies, 11% people follow
family/friend’s advice, 5% follow instructions of advertisement /literature/internet while39% were
self directed to choose their medicines. For skin/hair related problems 44% data found to follow
physician’s prescription, 11% take medicines on pharmacist’s suggestion, 13% prefer home
remedies, 12% people follow family/friend’s advice, 5% follow instructions of advertisement
/literature/internet while15% were self directed to choose their medicines. For Dental problems
45% data found to follow physician’s prescription, 15% take medicines on pharmacist’s
suggestion, 14% prefer home remedies, 08% people follow family/friend’s advice, 3% follow
instructions of advertisement /literature/internet while15% were self directed to choose their
medicines; and for common wounds/ cuts or injuries 24% data found to follow physician’s
28%
41%
11%
20%
<5000 INR
5000-10000 INR
10000-20000
INR
>20000 INR
Pujari et.al., Journal of Medical and Health Research 2016(01):03 ISSN:abcd:0000
http://epixpub.com/jmhr/index.php 16
prescription, 17% take medicines on pharmacist’s suggestion, 16% prefer home remedies, 5%
people follow family/friend’s advice, 3% follow instructions of advertisement /literature/internet
while 35% were self directed to choose their medicines Figure 5.
Figure 2: Monthly expenditure for medication
Figure 3: Choice of physician for common health problems
Figure 4: Influence on purchasing behavior of pharmaceutical products
46%
5%
2%
11%
5%
31%
M.D OR HIGHLY
QUALIFIED
M.B.B.S/BHMS/BAMS/BU
MS
OTHER POPULAR NON
QUALIFIED PRACTICNER'S
ADVERTISEMENT
FAMILY/FRIEND'S
SUGGESTION
SELF
60%
12%
8%
5%
5% 10%
physician
pharmacist
family /friend's advice
magazine/ literature
internet
self
Pujari et.al., Journal of Medical and Health Research 2016(01):03 ISSN:abcd:0000
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Figure 5: Influence on choice of medicine for treatment of common ailments
CONCLUSION
The behavior of pharmacy consumers has here been researched to discover the factors behind their
behavior for prescription and non-prescription drugs. The decision making and factors affecting
choice of pharmacy and choice of generic and similarly priced medicines have also been studied.
Consumers of different age groups, gender and occupations were included in the research.9 The
research was almost entirely conducted amongst the peoples in society as well as patients from
hospitals.
The data found quite interesting as most of the people are found escaping to spend money for
proper medication. Although people were earning handsome amount as their monthly income; but
on the choice of medicines (either prescription or non-prescription) they were found very choosy.
People prefer self medication beyond the expectations, likewise they do follow family and friend’s
advice, meanwhile internet/advertisements and literature etc. were also their preferred choice to
make decision for purchasing drugs. Even in common ailments data were found as, people bypass
the physician’s prescription and 20% people go for most branded medicines. Similarly
Pharmacist’s advice is of no matter, even about 15-20% people go for home remedies.
010 20 30 40 50
GI Disorders
Fever/ Common Pain
Skin/Hair Problems
Dental Problems
Wounds/cut/ Injuries Self
Advertisement/Litersat
ur/Internet
Family/Friend's Advise
Home Remedies
Pharmacist;s
suggestion
Physician's Prescription
Pujari et.al., Journal of Medical and Health Research 2016(01):03 ISSN:abcd:0000
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The survey reveals the fact that people wants medication as per their own choice and pricing. The
physician’s or pharmacist’s suggestion is not of as much concern over money. Although Home
remedies and people’s self knowledge for medicines is unexpectedly good.
The study is just a sample guide to suggest that the work is needed to be studied over large scale to
get the more effective data and precise results.
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... Only 60% population was buying medicine by physician's choice, whereas other factors like the magazine, internet literature, family, and friendly advice were also matters while purchasing a medicine. The author finds that people want their prescription on their own choice and price, while pharmacist's and physician suggestion is not an influencing factor over money [7]. ...
... The geography of such studies is great. As illustrative examples of "field" experiments, one can cite the impact of reacting target user groups on pharmaceutical advertising (direct and contact) [8][9][10]. one of the most problematic and controversial aspects of strategic decision making is determining its effectiveness. ...
... the geography of such studies is great. as illustrative examples of "field" experiments, one can cite the impact of reacting target user groups on pharmaceutical advertising (direct and contact) [8][9][10]. one of the most problematic and controversial aspects of strategic decision making is determining its effectiveness. ...
... The specimen of the statement that shall be inserted into the advertisement is "This is a medicine/supplement/ traditional product advertisement". For an auditory advertisement, it is adequate enough to mention: "This is a medicine advertisement approved by the Medicine Advertisements Board" [34,39]. ...
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1. vyd. Přeloženo z angličtiny Na tit. s. uvedené 12. vyd. patří anglickému originálu
The OTC Pharmaceutical Market in Emerging Countries: Market overview, key trends, competitive landscape and growth strategies
Business Insights (2010). The OTC Pharmaceutical Market in Emerging Countries: Market overview, key trends, competitive landscape and growth strategies, published by Business Insights, Mumbai.
A survey on behavior of diabetes patients in Kanpur south
  • A K Sachan
  • N M Pujari
Sachan AK, Pujari NM. A survey on behavior of diabetes patients in Kanpur south-Uttar Pradesh, India. Ann Pharma Res 2014; 2(02):66-9.