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Health Care Consumerization Allows for Regional Medical Marketing

Map of Midwest focused on KentuckyDifferent regions of the nation experience varying incidences of health conditions, and this may factor into the success of health care marketing messaging.

We all know the stereotypes. Southern Californians are health-conscious and active, the South won’t give up an abiding love for fried food, Kentuckians and Virginians grow and love tobacco, the industrial Midwest suffers from poor air quality, New Yorkers are chronically short on time and always stressed out.

These are broad generalizations, but there may be some basis in fact.

Market research among health care consumers in a given region can yield insights into disease centers, as well as the cultural norms and attitudes that may contribute to them. Knowing the most prevalent medical concerns among consumers in your organization’s coverage area, you can begin to address them and market effectively.

Let’s look at one particular disease condition.

COPD and Regional Habits

According to the 2013 c2b Consumer Diagnostic, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is more prevalent in the Midwest and South.

Why might this be?

Though there are a number of factors that contribute to COPD, the heightened tobacco usage is no small risk factor. And according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 2012 US Census showed that smoking prevalence was highest in the Midwest and South.

Nationwide, the average tobacco-smoking rate was 18.1 percent.  Rates in the Midwest and South both exceeded the national average.

  • 19.7% of Southerners reported they actively smoked.
  • 26% of Midwesterners reported the same.

Now compare those rates against the rest of the US.

  • 16.5% of Northeastern adults self-reported as smokers.
  • 14.2% of Western Americans did the same.

Breakdowns by state were even more pronounced where the smoking rate in burley-farming Kentucky (28.3%) was nearly triple that of Utah (10.6%).

The CDC further reported that, of the 42.1 million estimated smokers in the US, in excess of 16 million — nearly 4 in 10 persons — suffered from a smoking-related disease.

Of these, COPD was most commonly attributed tobacco abuse. It’s no coincidence, then, that COPD is most heavily concentrated in the Midwestern and Southeastern states, with the heaviest continuous band running in an axis from Indiana and West Virginia south-southwest to Mississippi.

  • The COPD incidence rate in Kentucky exceeds 9% of the population.
  • Contrast this to Utah, where the COPD rate is only somewhere between 3-5%.

Given the smoking breakdowns by state, it’s not difficult to extrapolate the primary cause of high COPD occurrences. It’s obvious, then, that the need for pulmonology services will be higher in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky than it is in Mountain Time.

You need to know who you are marketing to, not just their habits.

Knowing the incidence rate of a given condition in your coverage area is not enough. Even knowing the contributing factors of a disease condition isn’t going to yield results on its own.

Continuing with the Kentucky example, that state’s tobacco-growing heritage may play into its relatively high smoking rate. But people there aren’t oblivious to smoking’s known detrimental health effects. 

You need to understand the internalized factors that cause people in your region to do what they do. Effective marketing requires that you deeply understand consumers’ motivations.

In earlier articles I discussed c2b solutions’ proprietary psychographic segmentation model, which groups consumers into five distinct segments based on their approaches to health and wellness. There are significant differences in motivations among the segments; consequently, effective messaging (advertising, education, interventions, etc.) will also vary by segment.

The c2b Consumer Diagnostic measured the smoking habits of the psychographic segments, and found that Willful Endurers were by far more likely to smoke relative to the other segments.

Smoking by c2b Psychographic Segment

Percentage of Each Segment that Smokes

smoking by c2b psychographic segment 

Willful Endurers are also more likely to exhibit disengaged health behaviors, bad habits and lower medication compliance rates. This does not mean all Willful Endurers are unhealthy, it just means that segment has a greater chance of experiencing certain health conditions based on their behavior.

Willful Endurers also require a specific approach to messaging that would not necessarily work among the other segments. My next article will provide a case study where Willful Endurers were successfully motivated to sign up for a 12 week wellness program using messaging based on psychographic insights.

Separately, the c2b Insights Accelerator database allows you to make comparisons by geography to determine health condition incidences and the psychographic segments you will be more likely to encounter in your coverage area. You can also gain perspective on the segments and the types of messaging or social factors that motivate them, and then use this information to develop your campaign.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


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