Med Ad News
December 3, 2010
Targeting Women Online
By Erika S. Fishman, Director of Research, Manhattan Research
If the FDA approves Gardasil for older women, Merck will have an interesting marketing challenge on its hands pushing beyond the relatively strong success of its recent campaign targeting younger women. Recent findings from Manhattan Research show that age and whether or not women have children in the household strongly impact online behavior and digital media adoption, suggesting Merck and other brands targeting women need to leverage more granular segmentations of women to effectively market their products.
Due to the significant impact women have on the health decisions of others, Manhattan Research compiled an analysis of women’s online characteristics and profiled women by age and status of children in the household, based on its Cybercitizen Health® v9.0 study. Specifically, one-quarter of online women report to influence the health decisions of others, with the potential to directly impact an average of two other people in this manner. This finding, coupled with the fact that women are relatively advanced in their use of online health resources, suggests the online channel represents a valuable opportunity for healthcare marketers targeting women.
In order for women’s potential influence to come to fruition, it is vital for marketers to understand how women are spreading health information, while also acknowledging the differences exhibited by women of different ages. Asking young women to “tell someone” about HPV vaccination is a strategy in line with the findings that young women prefer to forward online health and pharmaceutical information to others through traditional word of mouth, but Merck may want to take a different approach when trying to reach an older audience found to prefer the “send to a friend” or “email this” feature through a website.
Marketers should also take note as to how women spread information through user-generated content, with the majority of online women using social networking sites today. The way in which women use these sites changes by whether they have children in the household. Specifically, the findings show that among women age 40-54 using social networking sites, those with children in the household are twice as likely to use such sites for health information, compared to those without children in the household.
To best target to an intended audience, insights garnered by granular segmentations and analysis of behavior are needed. In some cases it is the combination of multiple variables that reveal the most notable differences.
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