Medical food marketers can reduce consumer confusion

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition, Health care, Medicine

Medical food marketers can reduce consumer confusion
Medical food marketers need to address the fact many consumers are confused about the ‘food as medicine’ concept, especially as the influence of health care professionals is dwindling.

A report by Dutch market analyst SKIM Consumer Healthcare urges medical food brand owners to bridge consumer knowledge gaps

When presented with a medical nutrition product for the first time, consumers are often unclear about whether it is a serious pharmaceutical product or a healthy food product,”​ SKIM said.

“Can a ‘food product’ be as effective as a pharmaceutical pill or ointment? And if it is a food product, then why is it more expensive than the healthy products from the supermarket?”

“Since these consumers are looking for a means to manage or prevent a health condition, they will often consult a healthcare professional to ask for their endorsement. However, consumers are getting more and more knowledgeable and independent - for some conditions more than others - and they can easily search the internet to find answers or confirmation.”

It advised companies to pay close attention to:

  • The content of medical nutrition. ‘Natural’ or ‘active’ ingredients?
  • The kind of diseases and conditions it can be used to treat
  • Practical guidelines about when and how to use medical nutrition products
  • How to integrate them into their diet and daily lives

The report goes on to note: Where previously medical nutrition was mainly used to address malnutrition, medical nutrition solutions are increasingly being developed to treat or prevent diseases. At the moment, healthcare professionals and consumers (patients) aren’t always aware of medical nutrition as a treatment option.”

“How should they view such a product? Is it a ‘serious’, clinically proven medical product or a healthy, consumer product? Is it a drug or a functional food product like Actimel? It is therefore important to build awareness not only for specific products, but also for the medical nutrition category as a whole.”

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