March 19, 2024

Can Marketing Save Women’s Healthcare?

Woman standing with her arm raised and fist in the air

Every year, America celebrates and acknowledges the vital role of women in American history with a designated Women’s History Month in March. In recognizing the specific achievements women have made across the years, we also recognize those achievements didn’t come without challenges. And this month, we’re bringing to light the challenges in women’s healthcare that we can help solve and make history together.

As Americans, we live at the intersection of culture and capitalism. Products thrive and fail based on cultural values, economic systems and individual aspirations. When it comes to healthcare, however, this model often fails to consider the good of all.

That’s why in 2024, we find ourselves still failing women in healthcare. Women represent more of the health care system than men. They are more likely than men to suffer chronic conditions and use prescription drugs across all age groups. They are disproportionately affected by cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, migraines and osteoporosis.

Despite the need for more, women consistently receive less. From chronic migraines labeled as anxiety to an autoimmune disorder attributed to mental health, many women’s health issues are likely to be misdiagnosed or dismissed by doctors as something less critical. According to a 2022 KFF Women’s Health study, 44 percent of women with heart disease said their complaints were attributed to psychological causes.

With plenty of blame to go around, where is the glimmer of hope for women’s health today?

I believe there is hope; there are shiny specs of light that reflect optimism in women’s healthcare marketing today. Yes, you read that correctly, marketing. Brands are in the unique position to cross cultural barriers, steal attention and change both heads and hearts.

And most recently, we’ve seen a groundswell of women’s healthcare marketing that has challenged the status quo for women in a way that history has rarely seen. Periods, puberty, reproduction, sexual health and menopause are all topics that have recently been challenged through innovative and unique marketing campaigns.

Brands like Bodyform, Modybodi and many other pharma brands are leading women’s healthcare marketing to highlight the raw, authentic emotions that come with being a woman, but are rarely acknowledged. The campaigns associated with these brands serve as an ode to the glory of the female anatomy and the antidote to the toxic myth of women’s health always being perfect and clean and rainbows and unicorns. By showcasing their real-lived experiences, brands empower women to remove the shame that’s been associated with periods, post-partum and everything in between.  

It’s marketing that can help bring attention to non-profits working in service of reducing healthcare inequities. The Chrysalis Initiative (TCI) is a non-profit established to counteract breast cancer disparities among black women. EVERSANA INTOUCH partnered with TCI to boldly feature black women breast cancer survivors with an inequality sign painted over the breasts — a campaign that could not be ignored. It garnered so much attention that over twenty-five hospitals are now implementing unconscious bias training nationwide.

Finally, marketing can not only change hearts and minds, but it can also change laws. When Honduras banned the morning-after pill, the country immediately saw an increase of girls under 18 becoming mothers. To fight the ban, women’s rights activists, working hand-in-hand with an agency partner, launched a multinational campaign — “Morning After Island.” The campaign showed a literal platform “island” in international waters where these women could legally take the morning-after pill without risk of legal ramifications. The campaign garnered the attention of the world, which led to a petition signed by over 2.5 million women, and in 2023, the ban was repealed. 

These are a few examples of the superpowers that brands yield. They can inspire, authenticate and give women permission to take bold steps and challenge the status quo.

As marketers, we are in the unique position to take these bold steps as well. Governments and health systems value politics, profits and potential. But marketers don’t need to abide by that.  We sit in the unique cultural epicenter that provokes, challenges and elicits change. And, in this category, we are not selling products, we are saving lives.