Women’s health is a spectrum that includes topics like menstruation, pregnancy and menopause, among countless others.

Increasingly, women’s health has been the subject of more campaigns, commercials and marketing initiatives.

However, the best practices for healthcare marketers when it comes to reaching those audiences is changing as women advocate for what they’d like to see in their respective healthcare journeys.

With that in mind, WPP and GroupM held a happy hour reception this week in New York to honor Women’s Health Awareness Month and spotlight some of the primary concerns brands should take into account when advertising to women.

The event also featured a panel discussion with Erica Taylor, VP and chief marketing officer at Genentech; Christine Guilfoyle, president of SeeHer; LaToya Christian, executive director of GroupM; Niven McCall-Mazza, editor-in-chief of theSkimm; and Maria Givens, head of media, digital and platforms at Bayer.

Here are some of the main takeaways for medical marketers from the event.

The power of women’s health grows

The panel kicked off with the central question: Why has women’s health become so top-of-mind for consumers and brands?

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted health disparities and how society is not set up to support women, the panelists noted, adding that the gender pay gap still exists.

Research points to women feeling overwhelmed in juggling their careers, families, relationships, friendships – and, of course, self care. 

The panelists noted that women are often tasked as the “chief worry officers” of their households – in charge of planning vacations, their children’s activities and schoolwork and everything in between.

Still, in the post-pandemic world, women are increasingly stepping into leadership positions in their careers – and becoming wealthier. Simply put, “boards and brands are paying attention” to the emergence of this dynamic, the panelists noted.

The gargantuan gap

One way of reaching women authentically is breaking down the stigma around communicating about uncomfortable topics in health, like stress, periods and even constipation.

Givens pointed to a recent campaign out of Bayer for its laxative MiraLAX, which employed Broad City stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson to discuss the topic of poop and constipation in a light-hearted way. 

The three-minute video, dubbed “The Gut Gap,” pointed out how women are more likely to be stressed than men and twice as likely to be constipated.

The panelists encouraged marketers to spur uncomfortable conversations and normalize having these discussions around all health issues, whether it’s around opioids, pre-natal nutrition or cardiovascular health.

Much of the health “gaps” women face is linked to the fact that the medical system still has a limited understanding of women’s health. 

The panelists pointed out that women were not even required to be included in clinical trials until 1993, when the National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act was signed into law.

As a result, the gap in understanding of women’s health issues is “gargantuan,” the panelists said.

Equity improves life for everyone

The panelists encouraged healthcare marketers to gain a deeper understanding of the youngest generations, including Gen Z and future Gen Alpha consumers. 

These generations are the most diverse and technologically-savvy generations in the U.S. yet – and they’ll have new, equitable ideas about how they want to be reached and treated in healthcare.

Finally, the panelists urged men to pay close attention to the shifting ideas about women’s health – because “investing in equity improves life for everyone.”