A Tribute to Women During Women’s Health Awareness Week


As healthcare marketers we know that women age 35-64 make 80% of the healthcare decisions in their household, and that they utilize health services more frequently than their male counterparts. Source:  US Department of Labor. Women are more likely to choose healthcare providers, schedule doctor’s appointments, and make medical decisions for their entire family.

For years this segment of female consumers has been a coveted source in the healthcare arena and their continued influence has grown beyond what one would consider “traditional” healthcare – extending to an overall, proactive approach to healthy living and wellbeing. Despite shifts in lifestyle and household composition, e.g. single parent households, mixed marriages, etc., these female influencers still have strong footing and continue to build traction. So why has their influence remained so powerful and how can brands continue to connect with them?

Women A Growing Population. A recent Mintel report demonstrated that women make up slightly more than half (50.8%) of the US population, and with the general population aging, it’s expected that women age 65-74 (Boomer+) will grow by 21.2% from 2013-2018.  Moreover, the World Health Organization has reported that the life expectancy for women over the age of 50 is growing and, on average, women live longer than men. The result, an increase in demand for healthy aging solutions and care that addresses midlife and geriatric health needs including, comprehensive ambulatory services with preventive health, routine health screenings, and specialty care.

Engaging in Healthy Habits. Women realize that with a longer life expectancy, they will be faced with a variety of health concerns ranging from reproductive health, to bone health, to weight management, most likely prompting their decision to be more proactive about their healthy living choices and to support their interest in healthy aging. In fact, a recent Mintel report showed that women engage in more healthy habits than men, including exercise and healthy eating. Furthermore, women are more likely to use vitamins, minerals and supplements, with 54% of US women taking them regularly and demonstrating increased usage with age. Our government even plays a role in encouraging a proactive approach to health – with the Affordable Care Act, an annual well-woman visit is now considered a preventive service and covered by most health plans at no cost.

Building Brand Connection For Generations to Come. It is clear that women will continue to demonstrate their commitment to preventive health and their influence will extend beyond their own healthcare needs. Women instinctively have a need to be healthy and well for themselves and for the people in their lives – 82% of women believe there will be negative consequences if they don’t.

And, brands should take notice, with over two-thirds of women citing that brand preferences are influenced by those brands that motivate them to be healthy.  So… the brands that genuinely speak to a woman’s internal motivations, inspiring them through the functional and emotional benefits of the brand vs. external expectations, the “shoulds” and societal standards, will build lasting connections. Today’s woman has a different attitude about health and wellness – women are seeking brands that motivate them to be healthy and well, those that not only impact them but generations to follow. Brands should dig deeper, beyond base level definitions and understandings, to decipher the nuances that will motivate women to believe in their brands.

Remember, National Women’s Health Awareness Week is May 11-17. Pledge to be well, show your support and don’t forget (or, remind a loved one) to schedule a well-women visit today.

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Over 81% of Ameimagesricans over the age of 50 have become more conscious of what they eat.                              

Overall consumer interest in selecting food and activities geared toward wellness is increasing.  Consumers are realizing the effects that their eating habits and on-the-go lifestyles are having on their ability to maintain a healthy, sustainable life. They are becoming more selective in their product and lifestyle choices and increasingly understand the connection between their diet and health. Health and wellness is not a fad — it is becoming a way of life.

While most people pursue some form of health and wellness, the extent of their interest and engagement varies considerably – meeting consumers on their terms will motivate change and influence partnership with brands. Let’s face it, it’s not surprising that consumers vary in their commitment to exercise, dieting habits, and product choices, and that underlying demographic characteristics influence these decisions – a Gen X’er is far more interested in a stress reliever than a Boomer who may be looking for a memory supplement.

So what are the triggers that continue to motivate consumers to partner with health and wellness brands, and drive this industry forward?

  • Increase in consumer acceptance to a broader set of health and wellness solutions, including non-traditional treatments (herbal remedies, supplements, etc.).
  • Accessibility to more health information than ever; 96% of American adults who use the Internet look-up health information and they are not just looking, they are buying.
  • Growth of high opportunity segments like Boomers, a population expected to grow 41% by 2020, who will seek out solutions to maintain their vigor. And, on the other end of the spectrum the new generation (infants and their families) who will seek products for healthier development.
  • Government, health association, and employer advocacy of healthy eating and wellness initiatives are on the rise – an effort to temper increasing healthcare costs.
  • Broadening of health & wellness offerings at retailers in multiple channels, across various markets – everything from nutrition assessments, to testing services and preventative screenings, to spas and in-store clinics.
    • Take a look the next time you visit a Target, or even ShopRite store, you’ll be surprised at what you see.
  • Emergence of new players and partnerships are creating innovative solutions and expanding definition of the health and wellness space. Brands as diverse as Nestle, DuPont, and even Google are entering the sector.
    • Nestle is investing in gastro-intestinal health; Google in organization of personal health information; and DuPont, through purchase of DSM, in dietary supplements.
  • Accessibility to healthier products is optimal. Manufacturers are continually developing new, healthier products… just look at the supermarket shelves where new products appear everyday.
    • Supermarkets are becoming one of the leading channels for distribution; other channels, such as mass merchants, warehouse clubs, natural food stores, convenience and drug stores, continue to play a formidable role.

And, technology is helping to lead the way with digital, social, and mobile applications providing a more efficient and effective experience between consumers, healthcare providers, insurers, and health and wellness brands  – propelling consumers to connect, learn, and engage in more interactive experiences. 

The Proof Is in The Numbers

The trends all point in a single direction – more and more consumer spending on health and wellness. In fact, if the pace continues wellness could be the next trillion-dollar industry (Euromonitor International). Let me leave you with these stats:

  • Today the average household spends $148.48 per month on categories that have a wellness halo.
  • Over half of all consumers (54%) say they have recently changed their views on health & wellness.
  • 85% of consumers believe that certain foods have health benefits that go beyond basic nutrition and may reduce the risk of disease or other health concerns.

Health and wellness is the new way of life… for consumers and brands, those who adapt will ultimately succeed.



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The 2011 ANA Masters of Marketing conference brought together more than 1,700 marketers and marketing service firms to share in the year’s official theme — growth. Forrester Blogs has provided a good “cliff notes” version of the conference, which you can find here.

Despite the somewhat cautious tone of many speakers, the CMOs delivering growth are doing so by demonstrating enterprisewide leadership. Three strong examples, very relevant for healthcare marketers, were from:

• Stephen Quinn, VP and CMO at Walmart, who talked about leading like your customer is your boss.

• Esther Lee, senior VP of brand marketing and advertising at AT&T who talked about leadership beyond the marketing department.

• And Jon Iwata, senior VP of marketing and communications at IBM who talked about leading by building corporate character.

Easy to relate these three examples back to the need for an expanded enterprisewide leadership role for the healthcare CMO…

Customer as boss. Disruptive technologies (access to information, influencers, communities, grades, reviews, wait times…), new business models, alternative care options, etc, translate to an empowered customer, not a captive patient.

• Leadership beyond marketing. Consider how much brand value is enhanced or destroyed based on the customer experience, pre-during-post care, across the organization’s many access points. This evolves the role of marketing to impact brand-led culture, experience design and operationalization.

Leading by building corporate character. What’s your bigger envisioned place in the world, beyond that of (obvious) community health provider. The “core energizing idea” that resonates with, inspires and aligns employees and customers. As CMO, help to create the platform that continuously works to move both customer and organization forward in more meaningful ways.

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People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

This is Simon Sinek’s simple, smart idea presented through his TED talk: How great leaders inspire action. He calls his idea the ‘golden circle.” And it explains why some leaders and companies are able to inspire while others are not. It’s a concept that can’t really be boiled down to it’s essentials any further. But its value is big.

All companies know what they do. Most can identify how they do it. But far fewer (like Virgin, Harley Davidson, Six Senses, Innocent, Lululemon – my examples) can really identify why they do it – articulating why they really do what they do.

And “why” reflects how people make decisions (within their limbic brain, which controls our feelings) supported with the information (the “hows and whats”) people need to know to make them.

Simon’s ideas can just as effectively be applied to brand-building. And in some cases, might effectively replace the vision and mission statements which tend to sit and collect dust on corporate shelves.

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Though outside the health industry, this article by Gary Leopold of ISM which appears in MediaPost’s Marketing:travel – Playing With Partners: Some Rules of The Game – provides eight important considerations for creating successful co-brand partnerships.

These include:

• shared purpose and objectives
• shared strategies
• shared risk
• collaborate and support each other
• responsive to each other
• invest appropriate resources
• negotiate and work in good faith
• measure results and seek continuous improvement

Read the full article here. Any comments to share?

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High-energy brands share similar characteristics:

• strong and compelling visions
• central energizing ideas
• brand-centric cultures
• ability to link businesses and stakeholders
• drive shareholder value

And this energy shines through in their marketing. To marketing that is far more meaningful beyond messaging alone. Marketing that in and of itself adds value to people’s lives and that at the same time unlocks the real differentiating value of their brand. To marketing with energizing differentiation.

Healthcare, given its importance in people’s lives, has a real opportunity to up its marketing game. But this begins with acknowledging that communities and prospective patients don’t really care about the narrow view of what you have to offer. But they care deeply about their broader view of what you can do for them.

So beyond marketing messaging, consider additional ways to deliver what your audiences really want. Being the focus of their interest – instead of the interruption (by focusing on your hospital, service lines, procedures or technologies) – you’re much more likely to succeed.

Change the frame and look through your customer’s lens:

• consider their vision rather than yours
• their desire for participation vs. your desire for attention
• their aspirations vs. your functional benefits
• their desire to engage by doing vs. your selling
• their desire for community vs. your focus on the transaction
• wrapped in the most individualized, differentiating and branded experience you can provide

Competitors can copy much of the functional things that reside within your hospital, but they can’t copy your organization’s unique brand energy. This is your most sustainable competitive advantage.

If you truly look at the world from your customer’s pov, you’ll be surprised at all the different creative ways you can provide them with information they can use, with knowledge not easily gained elsewhere, and opportunities exclusive to their relationship with you.

Every year, Ad Age comes out with their list of the worlds Top 100 marketers. I look forward to the day when a healthcare marketer makes it to this list!

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Where are the trailblazers in mobile health heading? Peer-to-peer health care: wherein engaged patients and caregivers take an active role in tracking and sharing what they have learned.

Here is Susannah Fox’s (Pew Internet Project) presentation from the recent What Really Works Mobile Health conference at Stanford University. She discussed what people are really doing online – “how they are gathering, sharing and creating health information and what it means now that a majority of adults have on-the-go internet access.”

Some facts from her presentation:

• Six in ten US adults gather health info online
• 59% go online wirelessly, with a laptop, mobile device or tablet
• 48% of wireless users look online for information about doctors or other health professionals, compared with 31% of internet users who do not have mobile access

And two important (not yet mainstream but growing) trends:

• the “mobile difference” – give someone a smart phone and they become more social, likely to share and contribute
• the “diagnosis difference” – having a chronic disease significantly increases an internet user’s likelihood to say they both contribute and consume user-generated content related to health. Learning from each other, not just from institutions.

Does this ring true for you? How much have you personally connected with others, shared and contributed as it relates to health conditions?

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I’ve written in previous posts about the integration of health into hotel stays (Westin and New Balance).

Disney’s first specialty offering, brand-new health and wellness suites, will debut this fall at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. These suites will feature 100 percent cotton sheets, bamboo floors and non-allergenic wrapped mattresses, along with bathrooms that will include tea tree oils and rainwater showers for a relaxing, spa-like experience.

In addition, guests will also be able to indulge in seasonal and organic fresh foods at the concierge lounge, or enjoy a yoga session or a relaxing spa treatment at the resort’s newly renovated wellness studio. Finally, guests will also have the option of having cardio fitness equipment brought right to their rooms.

Disney’s core brand idea (or DNA, mantra, essence…) is family fun entertainment. More than a slogan, these three words should serve as a touchstone for business and brand decision-making. So, is integrating health into the Disney experience consonant with this brand idea? Share your thoughts.

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