No, it’s not the Chief Marketing Officer, but the Chief Medical Officer. But I’m not talking about the Chief Medical Officers that reign in senior positions at pharmaceutical companies but rather the Chief Medical Officer that drives family healthcare decisions—mom or more broadly, women.

Recall the report from the U.S. General Accounting Office, Human Resources Division in 1992 that was reviewing representation of women in prescription drug testing found that “more than 60% of the drugs (whose clinical trials were reviewed in the survey), the representation of women in the test population was less than the representation of women in the population with the corresponding disease.”1

Not only was there a lack of representation in the trials, often the trial data were not analyzed for whether there were differences in response based on gender.

Are we doing the same thing when we service this consumer through our marketing initiatives?

Our work highlights that women operate differently in healthcare-related decisions. When it comes to health & wellness:

  • There is evidence that women prioritize social connections and support over direct help from experts and expert or technical information.
  • Not surprisingly then, digital media, including social, is a go-to media for wellness information but they also put their deepest trust in face-to-face interactions with family, friends and network ties.
  • Women often put the healthcare needs of others ahead of their own.
  • Our work suggests that “wearables” and their services may not be as tightly aligned to service the unique needs of women.

So, what’s the point? The point is, don’t be like the automotive industry who ignored the influence of women for decades. As we work to truly become more customer centric, remember this influential group, they may be the consumer and/or the customer—but odds are they matter. Understand them deeply—as women, as CMOs not just as in role of sufferers or caregivers. If you pull your lens up higher, i.e. from disease to Woman as CMO, you will better understand their motivations and service their needs better.



  • Janet Winkler

    Janet Winkler is Group President of Publicis Healthcare Communications Group. Janet leads a team of inspired professionals who are motivated to drive growth for clients. More than ever that means disrupting the conventional and providing ideas and solutions that leverage technology, insights, data & analytics, and consulting services, and do so in an integrated way.


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