The Science of Marketing to Women

By Ellen Nowakowski

To market health care and pharma products or services to men, companies should include more images of scantily clad women and focus on visuals to connect with their target audience, right?

While men may be more responsive to suggestive ads featuring beautiful women, they may not be the right target audience, even if the product promoted is intended for them. Why? According to MayoSeitz Medias Media Monitor report, its the power of the purse. Women control $4.3 trillion in U.S. consumer spending and make a staggering 80 percent of health care decisions.

If women are in the drivers seat, shouldnt more companies rethink their marketing strategy? Whether shilling drugs for sexual dysfunction or looking to raise awareness on the importance of a prostrate exam, the marketing program should reflect the dominance of women.

Thats a lesson learned well by the Old Spice creative team. “The Man your Man Could Smell Like campaign was targeted at women, delivering commercials and videos that were both visually-rich and content heavy executed with the intention of tantalizing the female senses. We looked at him, and looked away, and couldnt stop looking and telling our friends. The marketers successfully executed against the five stages of the female buying process resulting in a 107 percent increase in sales.

According to website SheConomy, women dominate men in four of the five stages of the buying process: kick-off, research, purchase, ownership and word-of-mouth. Men lead the way when it comes to parting with their cash or pulling out a credit card, but other than the actual purchase, its the women who are taking responsibility for the decision-making process.

Women are more likely to pay attention to information around them, whether thats print advertising, television commercials, or through online and offline social networks, and then conduct additional research. After their research is complete, women will share the information with the man. In other words, if a woman doesnt have your product on her radar screen, theres a good chance its not going to make it onto the mans short list. And, many women like to share their knowledge and experiences with their social network, which helps raise awareness and delivers the benefit of word of mouth.

There are definite gender differences in how men and women view health care, with women more comfortable reaching out to medical professionals due to visiting gynecologists from the onset of puberty to seeing the obstetrician during their childbearing years. Men, conversely, are less likely to be engaged with their health care and are typically motivated by fear of something being wrong or the urging of an influential female.

By understanding the science of marketing to women, pharma companies can more effectively message to men and influence their purchase behavior.



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