The Lure Of Alternative Medicine(Homeopathy)

Global TGI Barometer
January 2008

Issue 33: The lure of alternative medicine

A combination of reduced faith in conventional treatments and the
growth in availability of alternative remedies has led to a rise in
the popularity of alternative medicine around the world. However,
there remains a degree of scepticism amongst many that alternative
approaches lack credibility. Using the latest research from Global
TGI, we investigate consumer attitudes towards alternative therapies
in different parts of the world.

Divergent attitudes
The results of the studies suggest that acceptance of alternative
therapies varies a good deal from country to country. This is likely
to be caused by a combination of cultural factors and variance in the
regulation of its use.
Focusing on the proportion of consumers in each country who say that
they ‘trust homeopathic medicine’, we see a considerable divergence of
opinion. Almost two thirds of consumers in India** say that they trust
homeopathy compared with less than a fifth in the US and Great

Homeopathy supporters…
In India, alternative treatments are a well established means of
combating illness, with an impressive 94% of people saying that they
have faith in alternative remedies. Homeopathy is integrated into the
general system of health care in India and our study shows that one in
ten consumers have consulted a homeopath in the last year.

Other strong supporters of homeopathy can be found in Latin America
and the Middle East. Around half of the population in Brazil, Chile,
Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates say that they trust homeopathic

…and cynics
In many countries, particularly in Europe, consumers are less
convinced. At 15% agreement, Britons are the least trusting of
homeopathy, and only 1 in 10 say that they prefer alternative
medicine. Even in Germany, the birth place of homeopathy, just 27% of
people trust this kind of treatment. France is the European market in
which people are most trusting of homeopathy.

Why go alternative?
There are many reasons why many consumers are increasingly turning to
alternative remedies to complement more conventional medicine. One
theory is that consumers are choosing more and more to take
responsibility for their own health and well-being. The internet has
had a large impact in this respect, with consumers being given access
to unlimited health information online. In the US for example, where
we have seen a slow but steady increase in the proportion of people
who say that they ‘prefer alternative medicine to standard medicine’
over the past five years, a third of the population now gathers
healthcare information on the internet.

At the same time, people are becoming increasingly health-conscious.
Taking Brazil as an example, 9 out of 10 people who trust homeopathic
medicine say that they would pay anything where health is concerned,
and one third claim that friends ask for their advice on health and
nutrition matters. In Germany and Great Britain, half of those who
trust homeopathic medicine believe that they should do more about
their health.

Who uses alternative medicine?
According to Global TGI research, people aged 35 and over are
generally more likely than their younger counterparts to turn to
alternative medicine, and acceptance of the practice appears to
increase with age. In Germany for example, 30% of 45-54 year olds say
that they trust homeopathic medicine, compared with just 20% of 18-24
year olds. The research also shows a clear gender divide, with women
generally more in favour of alternative medicine than men. In Chile
for example, women are 24% more likely than men to say that they trust
homeopathic medicine.

An alternative cure
Homeopathy is typically used to treat chronic or recurrent conditions
and our research shows that people who have faith homeopathic remedies
are generally more likely to have suffered from such complaints. In
the US for example, homeopathy supporters are 57% more likely than
average to suffer from eczema or psoriasis, 29% more likely to have
asthma and 22% more likely to suffer from allergies or hay fever. In
France, people who have suffered the same ailments were found to be
50% more likely than average to have consulted an alternative health
practitioner in the last 12 months.

'I trust homeopathic medicine' -
% agree
GB USA Hungary Argentina* Germany Russia* South Africa* France UAE
Chile* Saudi Arabia Brazil* India**

Base: Individuals aged 18+
* Respondents from urban areas only
** Respondents from ABC socio-economic groups in urban areas

Source: Global TGI

Steve Cooke – marketing director KMR Group: +44 (0) 20 8433 4381
Mailys Joucla – Global TGI executive: +44 (0) 20 8433 4487

Editors’ Notes
Global TGI is an international network of single-source consumer and
media studies, available in over 50 countries worldwide. Used by brand
owners, media owners and agencies, it measures consumers' product and
brand usage, media consumption and attitudes, based on large samples -
over 700,000 respondents annually worldwide. A typical survey will
cover around 4,000 brands and 500 product categories.

The Global TGI network of studies is operated by KMR Group. KMR Group
is part of Kantar, WPP’s insight, information and consultancy
division. For more information, visit

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