Online search behavior differs based on illness stage and condition info: Yahoo! survey

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Consumers’ online health search behavior differs significantly based on their stage of illness and the condition they are seeking information on, a new study from Yahoo! found.


In a survey of 12,000 consumers, respondents were asked about their search behavior based on their stage in the illness cycle and their specific condition.


Among those surveyed, respondents fell into one of five categories:

*27% were undiagnosed.

*11% were diagnosed with an illness but not yet taking a prescription medication.

*24% were diagnosed and taking prescription medication with no plans to change.

*13% were diagnosed but considering switching their current medication.

*25% were diagnosed and considering stopping their current medication.


The Yahoo! survey found consumers in the undiagnosed stage are typically searching for information online because they are experiencing symptoms or are generally concerned about a condition and want to make lifestyle changes.


Additionally, the survey shows that in the diagnosis stage prior to taking a prescription drug, 50% of consumers rely heavily on search to determine if taking a medication is right for them.


The survey findings illustrate how important it is for pharma marketers to make sure general information and details about side effects are available on their branded and unbranded Web sites, according to Bonnie Becker, senior director of the pharmaceutical category for Yahoo! Search Marketing.


“Whether a consumer is looking online for information about a specific condition, learning about a certain stage of their illness, researching medication side effects, or finding ways to improve their health overall, search is the starting point of the online conversation,” Becker said. “In order to reach consumers and have maximum impact, marketers must not only include search in their overall marketing mix, but also tailor their messages to address consumers’ specific needs and concerns at critical phases during their search.”

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