By Erin Edge, Editor in Chief, Healthline.com and PsychCentral.com
At Advertising Week New York 2022, a theme emerged from panelists across Healthline Media’s sessions: we need to listen to our audiences.
As one panelist put it, an office is a dangerous place from which to view the business. For brands, marketers and all of us in health and wellness, hearing from the people we serve about how they feel and what they want should be the cornerstone of any marketing insights practice.
When we hear from direct individuals and communities, we can recognize the impact we have now and the more significant impact we could have. When we understand people’s needs, we can reach them more effectively and offer them more: more diverse products and services, conscious language, personalized solutions, helpful information and genuine support.
Designing for Diversity
Diversity is already a top-of-mind theme in marketing but doing it right and successfully reaching a broader audience means first hearing from people about how they want to be seen and represented.
In our session, The Beauty of Intersectionality, Martin Ekechukwu, Chief Strategy Office, A-Frame Brands explained, “It’s very difficult to build brands and build products or even create solutions if the people who are ultimately affected by the problems are not in the room having the same conversation.” That’s why, he said, “We bring in a lot of diverse groups to help educate us on things we just didn’t know about before.”
In the same panel, Tyler Rochwerg, Senior Brand Manager, Neutrogena, shared how feedback pushed the company to include queer content on the website year-round, not just during Pride month, and to show actual acne marks on models for a more realistic image of beauty.
In our session Sum of the Parts: How Micro Changes Lead to Macro Wellness Effects, Dr. Jenny Yu, MD FACS, Head of Medical Affairs, explained Healthline Media’s diversity-first approach: “We’ve paid attention to the consumers and users who come to our site, ensuring that our content is relatable… so that they can see themselves in our content.”
Cultivating Cultural Empathy and Conscious Language
Panelists in our session A Recipe for Tomorrow: Bridging Culture and Nutrition reframed the idea of cultural competency as cultural humility. Maya Feller, Lead Dietician and Healthline Medical Advisor, explained that “‘Competency’ assumes that you have finished something and you have an answer… Rather, we have to work from a lens of cultural humility, meaning that we allow the groups that we’re naming and talking to to be the experts in their lived experiences.”
Amy Gomez, Ph.D., SVP, Diversity Strategy, Klick Health, provided food for thought: “What would happen if we led with empathy, asking a lot of questions and doing a lot more listening than talking?… What are the different paradigms that we need to be centering more of to be truly inclusive in our work and in the guidance we provide?”
Through this empathy, brands and marketers can develop internal language standards that reflect the words groups prefer for themselves, like Healthline Media’s Conscious Language Guide, which ensures our content is welcoming and affirming.
How can brands best innovate for the individual? At Healthline, we hear from our audiences that they want to learn about products, devices and treatments designed for them, but that can be hard to find.
In Sum of the Parts, Mark Mullet, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, obé Fitness, explained the company’s approach: “Data is everything… The fitness business is not one size fits all… We really use data to make sure that we are delivering the best experience to our members at home based on what they want.” Ultimately, the aim is to help people “fall in love with movement” and create more lasting habits through personalization.
In the same panel, Karina Kogan, Chief Marketing Officer, OURA, explained the company’s “human-centered, member-first” approach to research and development, noting that user feedback has led them to develop a different ring shape, launch an integration with the Strava fitness app and partner with Natural Cycles for temperature tracking. She says, “All of that comes from asking members what they want, how we can better serve them and what features they feel are missing.”
Offering Support Through Education and Community
Supporting audiences on their health journeys is critical. To do this well, brands must listen to understand what kind of education and experiences people need.
The right information helps consumers find the right solutions. Martin Ekechukwu explained: “If you’re not helping to educate your consumer and audience, you’re going to ultimately fail… We really ensured that the consumer we’re going after understands what the challenges were, what gap existed and ultimately how to solve it with the product we have.”
Tyler Rochwerg agreed, “We hear from consumers that they’re overwhelmed and confused by all the information that’s out there.” Looking for a solution, they realized they could turn the camera to the knowledgeable skincare formulators on their team. So far, they have created over 30 videos that entertain and educate people about skincare.
A supportive community can also make a difference for the right audiences. Dr. Jenny Yu explained how Healthline Media identified a need for community among those living with chronic conditions, leading to the development of Bezzy. Mark Mullet agreed, saying, “We talk to our community, we listen to our community, we hold our community on our ultimate pedestal.” Through member feedback, they find the best ways to help members engage with each other, go to events and feel a sense of togetherness.
Taking the Lead on Audience Listening
At Healthline Media, our audience-first approach is the basis of building best-in-class experiences that resonate with more people. By deeply understanding our audiences first, we can meet users with the right message at the right time, empowering both us and our advertising partners to make a difference in their health and wellness journeys. To dig into more insights and trends, visit the Healthline Media Insights hub.