Posted on September 6, 2010
Study after study shows it. Do you believe it?
Marketing experts preach it. Should you really be listening?
A stroll through your local shopping center validates it. But are you looking in the right places?
Is it possible that men are the new drivers of healthcare decisions?
Without question, women continue to have great influence over most household purchases and key family decisions, including all aspects of healthcare from choosing doctors to scheduling appointments.
But men are taking on increased responsibility when it comes to their family's healthcare and your marketing efforts need to be adjusted accordingly.
Here's why: It's estimated that more than 75 percent of the job losses in the past two years have affected men, and nearly 60 percent of college graduates are women. That means men are getting more involved in running the household - either as a stay-at-home dad or as a double-income family with joint responsibilities.
If you don't recognize this, you could potentially alienate an entire market segment, costing your organization dearly.
Do you doubt that this shift is occurring? Take some time to find out whether there are any signs within your organization. Have the pediatrics and imaging areas track whether it's mom or dad or both bringing children to the clinic or hospital. Have the switchboard log who is calling your facility and for what.
If you see signs of the male influence in healthcare, make sure you're ready to adapt to their needs. Obviously men and women hold varying values, get their information in different ways and make very distinct decisions. It would make sense to ask the question, "How do men make decisions about healthcare?" And, if they are becoming more involved, "Do we have the capabilities in place to help them in their new role?"
A good reason to consider these questions is the potential benefit to your bottom line. Identifying and engaging emerging markets can help you get a step up on the competition-a big step up.
You'll still want to have a strong emotional connection with women, but you also will want to focus more on quantitative measurements like cost and quality that might appeal more to men. Whatever you do, don't let the "women drive healthcare decisions" belief become a crutch that prevents you from exposing your messages to all potential patients.
If your competition fails to do the same, it will be a huge advantage for your organization.
Do you agree or disagree? Do you see any trends that would challenge us to think differently?