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Life Sciences

Brand Activism in Healthcare and Life Sciences

A brand activist driving change in the healthcare industry

Brand activism is a new buzzword in healthcare and life sciences spaces, and consumers are increasingly expecting their brands of choice to drive social change.

I recently conducted a series of consumer interviews for a major medical device brand. This brand has built a great deal of trust with their audiences by offering a top-notch product with great service. But when I asked interviewees what advice they have for this brand, their responses weren’t about product features or price concerns. In fact, their responses weren’t about anything to do with what the brand does. Overwhelmingly, the folks I interviewed wanted to see this organization advocate for their audiences and use their brand voice to drive positive change. Essentially, they wanted to see the brand stand for something.

This small group of consumer’s I spoke with share similar sentiments found in recent research by Edelman, Nielsen, Pew Research Center, and eMarketer. Simply put, consumer expectations around brand activism is on the rise. According to this research, over half of Gen Xers make buying decisions based on alignment with brand values and beliefs. As you look at millennials and Gen Z, that percentage goes up.

So let’s talk about what brand advocacy looks like in healthcare and life sciences and how organizations can begin to build greater advocacy into their plans.

What is brand activism in healthcare and life sciences?  

No doubt your organization has a mission statement and core values detailing why you do what you do and how you do it. Good brand activism docks right into that sentiment, the effort that the organization takes to bring awareness to and effect change that improves conditions for society, and often, more specifically, for the segment of society they serve.

Brand activism is active, alive and always on. It’s not simply slapping a new logo on a social media profile to align with the topic of the month (though it rightly can include that). Brand activism is deeper than that. So let’s look at a few ways your organization can get involved and drive good change.

Brand activism can be local, regional, and (or) global

Let’s first look at where brands can direct their activism. Some of that depends on where you operate, who your audiences are, and what your mission is. For example, if you are a local primary care practice, you are likely looking for ways to drive change right in your local community. It’s where you and your audiences live, work, and play.

Contrast that with a global medical device organization. It is operating on a national and international stage, likely looking at driving policy change and creating awareness on a larger scale. Wherever you fall on this scale, make sure your activities align. Consumers aren’t expecting a small practice to drive new national healthcare policy. But they are likely looking at your outreach efforts at home.

Brand activism to support your audiences

What are the biggest obstacles in your business? I recently worked with a client whose business is dedicated to a very specific disease state. And, while this condition is serious, it often plays second fiddle to other chronic conditions, and patients don’t always understand the seriousness of the condition. That’s quite an obstacle. But this organization can be looking at how to bring greater awareness to the condition itself.

Your organization likely has obstacles that limit access to needed education and treatment among certain audiences. Using your brand voice to deliver a consistent message can make a difference. Are providers asking questions during visits that can help uncover the condition you support? Are patients armed with the information they need? Do they know what questions to ask their provider when they are at risk? If not, this is a great place to drive change through activism.

Brand activism can stretch into many walks of life

Ultimately, when we look at diving change, that can put us into many different arenas: political, social, environmental, economic, among others. Your advocacy can put you on the front lines of legislation, finding innovative ways to reduce the environmental impact of your products, or increasing access for your services in marginalized or underserved communities.

And for those audiences that we discussed a few paragraphs up, seeing your organization actively live your values is a major trust builder. This work can also strengthen your position as an industry leader. The best part? The community you operate in is very likely to be healthier for your efforts.

Our Digital Healthcare Strategy team helps healthcare and life sciences organizations better understand their audiences and create digital experiences that educate, resonate, and drive action. Contact us today for more information.

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Marlana Voerster

Marlana Voerster is a Senior Healthcare Strategist at Perficient, where she works with providers and MedTech, pharma, and digital health organizations to build brand loyalty and enhance the patient experience through customer-centric digital experiences.

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