There are a number of definitions of “integrative medicine.”   They all involve the melding of conventional or allopathic medicine and complementary approaches. Whereas the two approaches used to be diametrically opposed, and there are still battle lines that are drawn, the use of integrative approaches is spreading throughout the U.S.

Many M.D.’s are incorporating various forms of complementary medicine from acupuncture and bodywork, to nutritional supplements and meditation into their practices.  These physicians are well positioned form a PR perspective.  When it comes to healthcare practitioners, the media is much more apt to interview an M.D. and particularly one who incorporates new forms of treatment into his or her practice. 

Here is where a well-constructed, effective PR campaign is essential.  Such a campaign educates, instructs, informs, and whets the public’s appetite to know more. On the marketing end, it also stimulates a target audience to take action, whether that be making an appointment, purchasing a product, or to visiting a store. The bottom line comes down to offering a good compelling story that also educates and informs.

It’s of interest to note that the complementary health care market was one of the few arenas that was not hit hart during the great (for lack of a better term) recession of 2008. This was particularly true when it comes to nutritional supplements.  And this trend continues.  The aging Baby Boomer population is fueling the upturn as are the legions of health conscious consumers turn to supplements as an affordable and generally (at least from many consumer’s perspectives) a much less risky way to stay healthy compared to prescription drugs.

According to “Nutritional Supplements in the U.S., 4th Edition” by market research publisher Packaged Facts, it is estimated that “U.S. retail sales of nutritional supplements exceeded $9 billion in 2009, up 8% over 2008 sales. From 2005 to 2009, the market grew by a total of 26%, fueled by growing consumer awareness about health maintenance, in addition to pressure by the media and government to enforce product accountability.”

This shift has to do with an increasingly health conscious attitude, as well as the nutritional supplement industry’s efforts to focus on more science-based claims.  During the past few decades the industry has made huge strides towards building its credibility in the marketplace.  The effort has paid off Packaged Facts forecasts annual sales growth in nutritional supplements will gradually improve over the new few years and sales were said to exceed $13 billion in 2014, yielding a compound annual growth rate of 7%.

Most complementary medicine is generally outside of the insurance umbrella and therefore must be paid for out of pocket, but this is one area where Americans a willing to spend their dollars.   That said, for those companies involved in the nutritional supplement or complementary and alternative medicine fields, reaching the target market is of tremendous importance.   It is clear that the market is there and that these are consumers that are willing to pay money in order to help safeguard their health.  The important part from a business perspective is to define the target market, pinpoint how and where to reach them and speak to them in a language they understand.   A combination of public relations and social media outreach is generally the best approach since it reaches the market and offers the validation and legitimacy that comes with being featured in the media.

 

Copyright © Savvy Healthcare PR Firm / Anthony Mora 2017