Chinese consumers’ medical decision and attitudes toward pharmaceutical advertising

Kara Chan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
27 Downloads (Pure)


A survey of 500 respondents from Beijing, China, was conducted to investigate their perceptions of the functions and consequences of pharmaceutical advertising and their medical decisions. Results indicated that Chinese consumers held a very positive attitude toward advertising in general, as well as toward pharmaceutical advertising in particular. Pharmaceutical advertising was most readily accepted as information for brand differentiation and market updates. However, pharmaceutical advertising was considered neither enjoyable nor trustworthy. Chinese consumers were marginally concerned about societal effects such as manipulation and economic benefits. They were most concerned about the economic costs of advertising. Consumers strongly supported the need for tighter control of the content of pharmaceutical advertising. Self-medication was found to be common in China (as opposed to going to a medical doctor). The proportion of consumers who used over-the-counter pharmaceuticals as a first-line treatment ranged from 35 percent for constipation to 51 percent for flu. Neither western nor traditional Chinese medical treatments gained overall popularity over the other among consumers for five common health problems. Dissatisfied Chinese consumers were more likely to bad-mouth a brand than complain to authorities. Pharmaceutical advertisers should adopt a mixed use of product and institutional advertising to market their products in China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-68
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of International Consumer Marketing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1999

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Marketing

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chinese consumers
  • Medical decision
  • Pharmaceutical advertising


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