Safety and effectiveness more important than professional advice for Malaysians buying nutraceuticals – study

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

A consumer questionnaire from Malaysia found that consumers are willing to pay US$252 more per month for products that are clearly proven effective. ©Getty Images
A consumer questionnaire from Malaysia found that consumers are willing to pay US$252 more per month for products that are clearly proven effective. ©Getty Images

Related tags Malaysia Consumer attitudes Safety

A nutraceutical that has clearly proven to be safe and effective is a more attractive factor than professional advice for urban Malaysians when choosing to buy a nutraceutical.

Between product safety and effectiveness, urban Malaysians also place more importance on the former than the latter.

In fact, they are willing to pay US$252 more per month for products clearly proven to have no side effects than those without, and US$198 more per month for products with clearly proven effectiveness.

This is based on the responses coming from 111 consumers who answered a survey when visiting Sunway Pharmacy and Multicare Pharmacy in Klang Valley – the urban area that comprises of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor – in May 2018.

Writing in the journal Value in Health Regional Issues, ​researchers from Monash University Malaysia, Taylor’s University Malaysia partnered researchers from the US in conducting the study.

Consumers’ attitudes were assessed based on four areas: 1) scientific proof of effectiveness 2) scientific proof of safety 3) source of recommendation and 4) cost.

“Consumers weighed relatively high on the availability of safety and effectiveness proofs when they chose nutraceuticals.

“The study highlights on the crucial need to inform consumers using clinical evidences of nutraceuticals as the information is highly preferred by consumers,”​ the researchers said.

This is also said to be the first study that investigates consumers’ preferences of nutraceuticals and their willingness to pay using quantitative study methods.

The researchers added that the study findings were similar to that of a previous study, which suggested that the publication of potential harmfulness of nutraceuticals, such as antioxidant supplements, could decrease the use of the supplements.

Our study suggested that respondents would opt out of the use of nutraceuticals if they were not informed about the evidence of effectiveness and safety from certain sources of information.”

Most buy for general health use

Over half of the respondents said they had previously used nutraceuticals and used two products on average.

Nearly one in three used it for general health purposes, 26 per cent used it to prevent heart disease, 13 per cent for cancer prevention, 11 per cent for memory loss, 10 per cent for immunity, eight per cent for energy, and another eight per cent for knee health.

Overall, most of the respondents (71 per cent) did not have any medical conditions. For those with a medical condition, high blood pressure and high cholesterol were the most common, followed by diabetes, heart, then lung disease.

On the other hand, the mean age of the respondents was 46, with over half of them women (57 per cent).

Income wise, about 45 per cent did not work or earned less than RM$2500 (US$630) per month.

Twenty-two per cent earned more than RM$5,000 (US$1,260) per month.


Source: Value in Health Regional Issues

Consumer Preferences and Willingness to Pay for Nutraceuticals: A Discrete Choice Experiment

Authors: Siew Li Teoh and et al

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