Women make over 85 percent of consumer purchases in the U.S.
When it comes to the household, they make up to 90 percent of the healthcare decisions.
Ninety four percent of women make their own healthcare decisions, and 59 percent of women make healthcare decisions for others.
And yet women’s health marketing isn’t doing a good job of meeting their needs.
In fact, 66 percent of women feel “misunderstood by healthcare marketers,” and according to at least one website healthcare marketing is one of the top three industries doing the “worst job of meeting women’s needs.
What a blow to our industry and to our women.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
How do we better market to women healthcare consumers?
We can start by talking to and listening to women.
And so I did just that. Our Director of Content, Melanie Saxe, and our Senior Content Writer, Sara Romero worked together with me to write this post. While we don’t pretend to have all the answers, we’re moving in the right direction for a fresh take on women’s health marketing.
In this blog post, we share:
- A look at women’s healthcare then and now
- And 8 tips on how to market to today’s women healthcare consumers.
Women’s Health Then and Now
There’s a lot to cover on the history of women’s health, and we can’t cover it in a single blog post. But much of modern medicine was initially developed with male physiology in mind, which in turn influenced how physicians understood human physiology, made diagnoses, and prescribed treatment.
Therefore, it’s not a surprise that this approach not only underserved women, but also caused a myriad of negative consequences.
One of the best examples of this is heart disease. Early research in cardiovascular disease mostly included male subjects, leading to “hallmark symptoms of heart attacks being taught as pain in the left arm and chest.” As a result, women are “50 percent more likely than men to be misdiagnosed following a heart attack and more likely than men to die from heart attacks.”
Women also can experience biased healthcare delivery. Despite reporting more severe levels, frequency, and duration of pain, women are less likely to be treated for pain.
Sadly, the list of suboptimal outcomes and negative consequences goes on and on.
But, there is hope.
Looking Ahead for Women’s Health
As women’s health slowly gets the attention it deserves, investors, pharmaceuticals, and market disruptors are flexing to create a marketplace for the unique healthcare needs of a woman.
But, does women’s health marketing resonate with them as women, mothers, caregivers, and chief family health officers?
To attract and retain the loyalty of this large demographic, companies must recognize that most women determine when and where they, their children, spouses, and aging parents receive care.
Hospitals, health systems, and healthcare practices cannot ignore women’s significant influence over their nuclear and extended families.
Appealing to women as healthcare decision makers can help healthcare marketers, doctors, physicians, and other healthcare professionals increase their (loyal) female patient volume—and attract several of their relatives.
Women’s Health Marketing: How to Market to Women Healthcare Consumers
Here are 8 ways to market more effectively to women healthcare consumers in women’s health and beyond as household decision makers.
1. Revisit and redefine your product or service.
If there was ever a time to review and evaluate your women’s health product or service, now is that time. The traditional healthcare system is having an awakening, and you have an opportunity to be a part of that awakening.
Here’s what this means as it relates to your women’s health product or service:
- Women’s health is evolving into all our healthcare.
- Women’s health must deliver an integrated experience to women.
- Women’s health must feature a personalized care delivery model.
- Women’s health must shift from care models focused on specific body parts or reproductive life stages to care for the whole person.
- Think beyond hybrid care to all options of care: video, chat, clinic, hospital, and home.
Do you offer a brand experience that engages women and attracts them through the front door?
2. Develop detailed personas for women’s health marketing
There’s no one-size-fits-all woman, so make sure you understand she is more than just her gender or identity.
Take time to identify the types of women you’re targeting and develop buyer personas to align with each market segment.
How do you get to know the women you want to market to?
“Talk to them and ask the right questions,” says Melanie Saxe, Director of Content at Healthcare Success.
One of the best ways to learn about the women you want to market to is to ask them to share their thoughts, concerns, frustrations, values, and where they plan to invest their time and money.
You can talk to women and ask them questions via in-person chats, calls, and emails. You should also take time to read through customer reviews, customer surveys and online feedback.
“It is always a good idea to involve sales and customer service at this point of your research stage,” says Melanie. “These professionals have the most direct contact with your customers and can provide real-world feedback.”
Here are a few good questions to ask when developing your personas for women’s health marketing:
- Age range
- Job title
- Family size
- Who is a part of their family?
- Married, single, or in a relationship?
- Do you plan on having children if you don’t have any?
- Education level
- The channels (where) they spend the most time online
- The most prevalent pain points (or, the barriers to what they want and need)
- How does your product or service help solve their problems?
- Their top core values
- Their hobbies and interests
Specific, accurate, and well-defined personas will help increase the effectiveness of your communications. The more your brand or business considers the nuances within your target audience, the easier it is to engage with them and build trust and credibility.
Making this effort will ultimately translate into new conversions, more sales, and higher revenue for your business.
3. Consider age and generational marketing
The language, imagery, and platforms you use to attract your target audience are highly influenced by age and generational preferences.
For example, if you’re marketing a new fertility treatment, you’re probably targeting older Gen Zs and younger Millennials. Meeting them where and how they are online is crucial for success.
Women’s health marketing becomes even more nuanced when targeting the smaller but often underrated Gen X population because they are most likely caring for their children, themselves, and aging parents—and may have needs across the entire care continuum.
4. Create the type of content they’re looking for
When creating content for a female-based audience, understanding and leaning into their values is a must. Depending on your target age range, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind regarding their stance on wellness, beauty, aesthetics, and female-specific wellness.
Gen Z females are unabashedly wellness-conscious and the driving forces behind popularizing vegetarian and gluten-free diets.
They have a holistic view of health and recognize how social and emotional wellness, sleep, and stress affects wellness. They support “clean” beauty brands that don’t add harsh chemicals to their products and support the things they care most about diversity, inclusivity, sustainability, transparency, and trustworthiness.
The bottom line is that Gen Zs will not buy products from a brand they wouldn’t be friends with. They are very likely to follow the brands they love and communicate openly with them about their likes and dislikes. Zoom over to your social media channels to attract this audience and start interacting with them. Create content that’s light and fun but also factual, transparent, and socially conscious.
As millennial females continue to grow into their 30s, they’re becoming more health- and cost-conscious, so including easy access to more in-depth information is important.
Millennials are the most health-conscious of all generations, with 76% prioritizing healthy food choices. They’re also interested in alternative treatments or natural health options (e.g., acupuncture and chiropractic care) and will often exhaust these options before scheduling a pricey doctor’s appointment.
Millennials, the largest generation (72.1 million) on record, are single-handedly driving demand for care models that offer both in-person visits and digital care services like online appointment booking, one-on-one digital communication with their providers, and telehealth. To attract this audience, focus on factual content, offer up-front pricing, and support alternative healthcare options (even if it’s your goal to book a medical appointment).
Gen X is a smaller but vital audience for your women’s health marketing efforts. As I mentioned, this generation of women is responsible for making healthcare decisions for three generations. Their primary concerns are quality of service, convenience and time, and finding the best possible option for their unique circumstance. They’re very interested in and driven by excellent service, more appointment options, and convenient scheduling capabilities (e.g., online booking).
To attract this audience, focus on ways to reduce friction by offering different ways to connect (e.g., social media, health portals, apps, etc.), present facts backed by reputable sources, and offer loyalty programs to help them save money.
If you’re creating content for female baby boomers, remember that they are proactive about their care yet cost influences their buying decisions. For this reason, they spend more time making purchase decisions.
To reach female baby boomers, create quality content that will help them make better-informed healthcare decisions.
5. Distribute the content on the right channels
Once you know who you’re targeting, here’s where you’re most likely to find them:
Gen Z females frequent platforms like Twitch and TikTok, so punchy, informal copy and captivating videos are a must.
Millennial females gravitate toward Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and popular online shopping sites, so captivating video content continues to be a high priority.
Video is still important for this busy generation, but they’re also willfully independent and skeptical. Gen X females prefer YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. To appeal to their naturally non-trusting sensibilities, avoid big-spend, flashy advertising and focus on authentic, transparent, and direct women’s health marketing tactics that favor visual content and story-based advertising.
Can you reach them online? Yes! But you have to know where they are exactly. While 50 percent of boomers spend 15 hours a week online, they’re more likely to spend time on hospital or provider practice portals. Finally, they’re also social. More than 80 percent of boomers participate in at least one social media site. Make sure to develop snackable versions of educational content so that they can share the information with their peers on social media.
6. Be inspirational
Women are having a movement amidst political unrest regarding inequalities like the gender pay gap, sexual and reproductive rights, and more. They’re ready for businesses and brands (and politicians) to listen.
Women are more likely to engage with brands that stand for something, support a cause, or strive to do no harm (e.g., ethical business practices). They’re also willing to pay higher prices for the products and services they need from businesses that care about their issues.
7. Go social
Seventy-six percent of women aged 18-50 use social media sites regularly and are more likely to interact with brands online than men. If you need more convincing data, consider this:
- 76% of women are active on Facebook
- 55% of women use social media to access sales and promotions
- 30% of U.S. women check their social media accounts several times per day
- 58% of those who consume news on social media are women
8. Be mobile-friendly
Women are always on the go, whether going to or from work, pick-ups, doctor or dental appointments, or grocery shopping. So it’s not hard to see why 60% of their social media time is spent on mobile.
If you’re looking to attract a female audience, make sure your campaign, promotion, or integration is compatible across all devices.
It’s time to make women’s health marketing a top priority when creating content for your products and services—even if your products are meant for men. More likely than not, they’ll be the ones doing the research, choosing the doctor, and scheduling the appointment.
Next week, I’m sharing more about the wellness-oriented healthcare consumer, so be sure to check that out.