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Women’s Health Styles Panel

Laura Lang, CEO Digitas; Alex von Plato, Exec VP & Chief Creative Officer, Digitas Health; Susan Manber, Sr VP & Exec Planning Dir, Digitas Health; Lesley Jane Seymour, Ed-in-Chief MORE Magazine; Laura Michalchyshyn, Pres & GM Discovery Fit & Health; Brenda Coffee, CEO BreastCancerSisterhood.com; Angela Matusik, Chief Content Exec, iVillage. Photo by Kelly Davidson.

Recently I was honored to be a panelist at a Fortune 100, invitation only event. The NewFront’s “Brands Meet Content” has become the premier event of Internet Week in NYC. At this event, NewFront and Digitas, the world’s largest digital ad agency, brought together Hollywood’s elite, leading content creators, distributors, talent and Fortune 100 marketers to develop the next big innovative ideas in worldwide online content.

Like the cowboys and settlers of the American West, Digitas and NewFront are successfully riding into a new frontier and taking the world’s largest brands along with them. With the help of this year’s A-List speakers, this creative, high-tech wagon train is helping brands discover that online content is just as important as distribution, and that content doesn’t necessarily need to be created by the brand. The nuances, new rules, and no rules of this new world are unfolding everyday, but make no mistake. There’s a new sheriff in town: Branded, digital content.
Just a few of the event’s A-List speakers included actor, online content developer and branding wizard, Ashton Kutcher, and his wife, Demi Moore; John Battelle, Founder of WIRED magazine and Federated Media Publishing; Beth Comstock, Chief Marketing Officer & SVP of General Electric; Clive Davis, Chief Creative Officer for SONY Music Entertainment and Richard Stengel, Managing Editor of TIME magazine. I was proud to be in the company of such talented trailblazers.

The NewFront’s Women’s Health Styles panel I was on was an outgrowth of a study done by Digitas Health and Yahoo about how women in their 40s and 50s see themselves and how they make decisions about their health. The study wanted to steer clear of the stereotypical image of this age group: women who are somewhere between Super Moms and the Sandwich Generation who care for aging parents. One thing emerged loud and clear from this study. Today’s women are not their mother’s generation.

Women in their 40s and 50s are better educated, have more disposable income, take better care of themselves, look better and make decisions differently than any previous generation in history. We are the generation that grew up believing we could have it all but have since discovered that having it all is a balancing act of compromise, sacrifice and stress. We want to connect with other women who’ve walked in our shoes, women who are genuine and authentic, real women like ourselves.

The Digitas Health/Yahoo study discovered five core insights into this age group:
1.) Women mostly see mid-life as a “wow” followed by a good natured “ugh.” This age group is happier and more positive than women 20 to 30; they have more time for themselves; they’re less concerned with what others think, and their experience has given them wisdom and perspective.

2.) Gathering info about health is as much an emotional experience as a factual one.
Women want information from respected sources, and they want it easy to digest and understand. They also want a trusted source that has their best interest in mind and no hidden agenda.

3.) The Internet helps women “realize to decide.” Over half of the women in the study get their health information and support online, plus giving is as important as getting information. At some point, something happens between a woman’s research and her experiences that gives her an “ah-ha” moment and makes her realize she needs to do something “about it.”

4.) Our response of “Yes Doctor” has become “Yes Doctor, but…” Because so much information is available online, nearly half of the women surveyed believe they have more of a role in diagnosis and treatment. Women want, but don’t often get, a doctor who makes decisions with them, based on who they are and what their situation is.

5.) Five temperaments and approaches to making health decisions.
a. Optimistic & Proactive: She has a positive attitude and does everything she can to stay healthy.
b. Savvy Explorers: Digs and researches online to get a well-rounded understanding.
c. Connected Consensus Seekers: Wants to talk about it with friends and family, especially those who speak from personal experience.
d. Detached & Disinterested: Practically ignores the entire subject of health, including her own.
e. Constrained & Overwhelmed: Has problems coping with chronic conditions and illness and has negative outlook about this stage of life.

As a result of this study, advertisers are learning they need to reach women about their health in new and different ways other than banner ads or a generic Facebook page. Not only do we use technology, we use it for everything from researching our family’s healthcare, to connecting with one another. We look for authenticity and transparency from the brands we use. We want to know more than just the ingredients in our skin cream. We want brands that solicit our opinion and value their relationship with us. Social media allows us to be more than just nameless, faceless statistics. We’re a brand’s focus group; we reward quality brands with loyalty and word-of-mouth advertising, and if they let us down, another brand will take their place.

Thank you Digitas for inviting me to such an awesome event, for appreciating the “sassy strength” of BRENDA’S BLOG and for recognizing the relationships my readers and I have created. We are a team. They mean the world to me, and I hope they mean the world to all the products they honor with their purchases.