The nation's shift to managed health care has left many women unhappy with the medical attention they receive. Feeling that they don't have easy access to or sufficient time with their doctors, they are looking elsewhere for information and support.
Along with introducing a variety of nutritious foods just for women (see Brand Marketing, June 2001), marketers are becoming a source of help by sponsoring health-oriented events, featuring information on product packaging and even creating full-blown, cause-related marketing programs. Dasani bottled water, for instance, sponsors a wellness section on iVillage.com, an Internet portal for women, while The Gillette Co. established The Gillette Centers for Women's Cancers in Boston.
Supporting women's health is a way for marketers to demonstrate that they care about women as people, not just as consumers, said Mary Lou Quinlan, chief executive officer of Just Ask a Woman, New York, a marketing consultancy devoted to understanding the needs of women.
"It helps to humanize brands," Quinlan told Brand Marketing.
Nearly half of all consumers say it's increasingly a hassle to deal with their health care plan, according to the Monitor Minute, a report from Yankelovich, Norwalk, Conn., a research and consulting firm. As a result, many are reluctant to see their doctors unless they are very sick, the report stated.
Marketers can respond by providing tools for consumers to manage their own health care more effectively, according to the report. They can also provide access to "health coaches," and create a culture that encourages health habits, like eating right, exercise and relaxing.
"Because women feel burned by or dismissed by medical professionals, they feel the only way to gain control is to get the information on their own," said Quinlan.
A few years ago, if a marketer got involved with a woman's cause, it was a point of difference. But now, it's almost a prerequisite, said Quinlan.
"Women expect marketers who target them to invest in the causes they care about," Quinlan said.
Some marketers are connecting their brands with women's health and wellness issues at the corporate level. Others are bringing it to the retail setting through point-of-purchase materials, like special displays, pamphlets and videos.
Marketers who cater to women in this manner can see positive results.
After all, women purchase or influence the purchase of 80% of all consumer goods. By 2010, women are expected to control $1 trillion, or 60%, of the country's wealth, according to research conducted by BusinessWeek and Gallup.
Following are some of the ways marketers are getting more personal with women:
THE RAZOR'S EDGE
The Gillette Co. may expand its role in aiding women with cancer by creating a comprehensive cause-related program this year, according to Eric Kraus, vice president of corporate communications for the Boston-based company. Product packaging and advertising may be included in the effort.
The move comes five years after Gillette awarded a gift of $5 million to a strategic joint venture of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Brigham and Women's Hospital and the Massachusetts General Hospital to establish The Gillette Centers for Women's Cancers, a program that enables a woman to see her entire team of physicians in one visit at one location. The Gillette Centers also promote and sustain research specifically for the discovery of new and improved therapies and diagnostics for cancers that affect women. Gillette feels that in light of its leadership in the female shaving category, it has a responsibility to become more involved with issues that significantly impact women. "The goal of Gillette's involvement with women's cancers is to underscore and maximize the visibility of Gillette's commitment to women," said Kraus.
To heighten awareness about the Gillette Centers, Gillette has launched The Gillette Women's Cancer Connection. Through a Web site (www.gillettecancerconnect.org) and other activities, the Cancer Connection links women and their families to "the emotional and social resources needed to ease the journey through treatment and into recovery." More than 1 million people have visited the Web site.
"Throughout this Web site, you will find information, compassionate guidance and support relating to many of the issues you are facing -- from self-esteem, sexuality, communication and fear of recurrence, to the daily challenges of family life," the Web site states.
The company also has established the Gillette Women's Cancers Foundation, which provides grants to research programs.
TAKE ME TO THE WATER
The Coca-Cola Co., Atlanta, has positioned Dasani, its first North American bottled water, as a brand that "understands women's needs for everyday wellness," said Kellam Graitcer, senior brand manager, Dasani. Coca-Cola runs a Dasani-branded wellness section on iVillage.com.
"Dasani water is committed to helping women attain balance in their personal lives," the Web site says. "Dasani water knows hectic days can drain your physical energy. Try these Simple Solutions to help soothe and strengthen your body."
On the site, a wellness team provides "simple solutions for the body, mind and soul." One recommendation, for instance, says that women who use a cosmetic that contains alpha hydroxy acids should use extra sunscreen when outdoors. While AHAs have a modest effect in reducing fine wrinkles, they remove the top, sun-damaged layer of skin, which makes the skin more vulnerable to further sun damage, the site says.
While the brand is targeted at adult men and women, the majority of bottled-water consumers are women, and women most often are opinion leaders on wellness attitudes and behaviors, such as drinking water.
The partnership has enabled Dasani to reach women in a place where they are looking for wellness information, said Graitcer.
"We seek to reach all of our various consumers in places that are personal and motivating to that consumer," said Graitcer.
Along with the iVillage site, Dasani promotes wellness in other ways, including by distributing wellness content in brochures at retail. Advertising, point-of-sale and other marketing materials also support wellness insights.
While the Dasani program focuses on women's health, Coca-Cola feels it's important to link its brands with issues that are relevant to its consumers, Graitcer noted.
"We seek to establish branded relationships and to fulfill our consumer needs, both physically and mentally," Graitcer said.
THE FRUITS OF LABOR
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer for women in the United States. In 2001, about 192,000 new cases of breast cancer were expected to be diagnosed.
That's why many marketers are partnering with breast cancer awareness, support and information groups. Last year, the Kellogg Co., Battle Creek, Mich., became a National Series Sponsor of the Komen Race for the Cure, sponsored by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. For the past five years, Kellogg has served as cosponsor of the National Breast Cancer Survivor Recognition Program. Kellogg provided pink T-shirts, caps and buttons for breast cancer survivors to wear during race events. Kellogg also provided race participants with "In Memory Of" or "In Celebration Of" back-signs to wear in honor of those affected by the disease.
Uncle Ben's, Yoplait USA and Johnson & Johnson are also active in the foundation.
B&G Foods, Parsippany, N.J., marketer of Polaner All-Fruit spread, is strengthening its relationship with the National Alliance of Breast Cancer Organizations, a nonprofit resource for information and education on breast cancer in the United States. The goal of the relationship is to raise awareness about good breast health and to generate support for NABCO's education and information programs.
The alliance began in September 2001 with a nationally distributed freestanding insert, radio advertising and specially marked supermarket displays of Polaner All-Fruit. The displays carried breast health information for the consumer, featuring early detection guidelines and other breast-health resources.
This year, B&G is including other Polaner products -- including ready-to-eat chopped garlic -- in the initiative. For the first time, it is also featuring NABCO information on packages of Polaner All-Fruit.
The program is a good way for Polaner to promote early detection and show that it cares about its target market: women who are 45 years of age and up, said Jordan Greenberg, senior marketing manager, Polaner.
"Today, marketing is about relationships," Greenberg said. "It's not just about the products, but what you can do for the consumer beyond the products."
Because it's sweetened with only fruit juice, not artificial ingredients, Polaner All-Fruit has been positioned as a healthy product. The NABCO partnership drives home this message even more, said Greenberg.
Like B&G Foods, Dreyer's/Edy's Grand Ice Cream, Oakland, Calif., is also expanding on its relationship with the NABCO. (The company's products are marketed under the Dreyer's/Edy's brand name throughout the Western states and Texas, and under the Edy's name throughout the remainder of the United States.)
From May to October 2001, it adorned about 13 varieties of its Better-for-You line (which includes light and no-sugar-added varieties) with a pink ribbon, the symbol of breast cancer awareness.
As part of the "A Taste for Life" initiative, a portion of sales of the specially marked packages supported NABCO's educational programs that empower women to seek early detection.
This year, it's creating "pink ribbon" packaging for its entire Better-for-You line, which features more than 30 flavors. For every pink ribbon that consumers clip off the package and mail in, Dreyer's will donate 50 cents to NABCO, up to $250,000. Called "Clip a Ribbon for the Cause," the program will run from May to October 2001.
"We wanted to give consumers more control over how much we donate to NABCO," said Yulanda Young, marketing manager, Dreyer's.
The campaign received strong retail support last year, according to Young. "Retailers were very excited about it," she said, noting that retailers drew attention to the campaign by displaying additional point-of-sale materials.
Dreyer's/Edy's also has special Web sites at www.dreyersbetterforyou.com and www.edysbetterforyou.com to encourage people to learn the facts about breast cancer, good overall health, and the benefits of following a balanced diet and active lifestyle.
"All this shows that we're concerned about 'the cause."'
Young said NABCO is a good fit with Dreyer's Better-for-You line because women with breast cancer are often encouraged to reduce the amount of fat in the diet. She pointed out that marketers that cater to health issues such as breast cancer should do so only if the cause fits in with the company's product profile.