Pay attention, pharma marketers: Men are checking out your brand marketing

Men have pharma needs, too. Traditional pharma marketing strategies target women, following common marketing wisdom that women control or influence the vast majority of household purchases, up to 80% or more depending on which study you read.

But new research from ID Media points to men taking a more active role in healthcare. In fact, when it comes to responding to advertising and healthcare information, men consistently outranked women, according to the data gathered by ID Media parent IPG for its biennial New Realities study.

While women take more prescription drugs than men--52% to 35%--men seem to be more engaged when it comes to drug marketing and information.

For example, 68% of men versus 60% of women agreed that it was their responsibility to get informed about medications prescribed by their doctors. Another 54% of men versus 47% of women said they find great value in information available when deciding what drug to take, while 48% of men who take prescription drugs versus 37% of women said they research prescription medicine on the brand's website.

"I believe technology has greatly influenced both men and women in finding information on the internet related to healthcare," said Michael Baliber, senior director of media strategy at ID Media, noting that mobile access in particular has been a key factor in men's increased engagement with healthcare information.

The research also uncovered differences among men of different ages. Not surprisingly, Millennials ages 18-34 are more receptive to pharma marketing and information than Gen X and Baby Boomer men ages 35-64. Among Millennials, 41% said they greatly value TV, print and online advertising for information on new drugs and healthcare developments, versus just 23% of the older group. Another 44% of Millennials strongly agreed that ads drive them to ask their doctors for more information versus only 22% of the combined older generations.

The older group, however, was more likely to agree that it's their responsibility to get information about drugs a doctor has prescribed to them, at 71% to Millennials' 63%.

What does it all mean? That's what ID Media plans to find out and will begin media testing, digitally targeting men and women, as well as men in different demographic groups to gauge response rates in the real world.

"The biggest a-ha in this is we can now take the survey information and apply it to media strategies," Baliber said. "We can track efficiency and effectiveness and find out if we can selectively show differences. And then maybe that drives a larger male-targeted media plan."

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