Syncing multicultural marketing strategies and the healthcare industry bottom line

Steve Millerman, CEO of Prime Access, wades into the debate regarding the lack of multicultural trends being maximized to their full potential within the healthcare and pharma industries.

Despite the ongoing conversation about America’s changing demographic landscape, many pharmaceutical companies remain reluctant to fully invest into a top-line strategy that would engage with nearly 40% of the US population – Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, etc. How is it possible that multicultural trends and highly scalable opportunities have been recognized by key industries across the board, yet are not being maximized within health care, and, specifically, within pharma?

One of the most frequently heard pushbacks from pharma, in response to their visible absence on the multicultural advertising landscape, is the constant challenge of tying each budget investment to a specific business case. The data is there to lay the foundation for the effort – healthcare disparities, adherence challenges and patient engagement struggles have been documented properly, making the case for the outreach – but translating those efforts into new patients and new prescriptions has proven to be a bigger task.

As someone who has experienced both sides of the healthcare marketing industry – within the pharmaceutical company and, now, on the agency side – I see a disconnect between the traditional agency proposition and what most pharma companies need today.


“…multicultural marketing is a discipline that needs to be integrated across internal channels and functions…”


Below, let’s look at five key steps that could help pharma marketers evaluate their multicultural game:

1. Is there an existing multicultural capability within your organization?

Applicable across multiple brands and scalable for many therapeutic areas, multicultural marketing is a discipline that needs to be integrated across internal channels and functions, and requires different skill sets compared with those of traditional marketing practices. Building a dedicated multicultural marketing team within your company is critical to driving the organization forward.

2. Do you build your business case with more than cultural insights and Census data?

Census 2010 findings have been out for more than three years and cultural insights have been documented for decades. Those two elements alone are simply not enough to initiate a strong business case. Cultural methodologies require a different approach compared to traditional marketing ROI. State-of-the-art technologies are now available to isolate ethnic vs. non-ethnic patients, and analyze promotional response in Rx sales.

3. Do you take the time to build your multicultural P&L?

If you want to be 100% confident in your multicultural investment, respect the time it will take for it to become profitable. Ad-hoc, afterthought approaches cannot – by definition – produce an impactful multicultural strategy. Building an appropriate P&L structure allows you to have a business plan that signals the positive effect of multicultural strategy on the company’s revenue.

“If you want to be 100% confident in your multicultural investment, respect the time it will take for it to become profitable.”

4. Do your Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) drive business case with marketing teams?

Whether those already exist as part of your organization’s D&I efforts or you still have to set those up, ERGs can be leveraged to inform the company of cultural insights and plans. ERGs equipped with the right tools, data, and resources will drive awareness inside the organization, becoming valuable ambassadors of a company-wide commitment to multicultural strategy.

5. Does your agency partner understand both sides of the coin?

Finally, whether you choose to select an external partner to carry out your efforts or not, make sure that they help you navigate the multicultural landscape as well as know the specifics of the healthcare industry and profitability. A successful track record in both areas is key, since applying multicultural strategies from outside of healthcare simply does not work.

Company-wide commitment to a strategic multicultural program has been proven to have a positive impact on the revenue cycle as well as on the overall competitiveness of the organization. The demographic make-up of the US has already changed, but the transformation has not yet ended. With statistics indicating that ‘general market’ messaging misses more than 66% of the multicultural population, can you really afford to let go of a slice that big?





About the author:

Steve Millerman is the Chief Executive Officer at Prime Access, the largest independently owned healthcare agency reaching the US Hispanic, African-American, Asian American, LGBT, and other diverse US populations. In his current role, Steve overlooks all aspects of the agency business, including proprietary solution development, maintaining the agency footprint within the industry, and spearheading Prime Access growth through organic and new business opportunities.

Steve’s pharmaceutical and healthcare industry experience spans multiple therapeutic areas and ranges from $30 million to $2.5 billion brands. Most recently, Steve led the cross-cultural marketing capability at Novartis Pharmaceutical Corporation.

Steve’s thought leadership and track record has been recognized internally and externally throughout the industry with a number of Business Excellence Awards, Brand Team of the Year Awards, Marketing Masters Awards, as well as three DTC Perspective Awards for best multicultural campaign of the year in 2012 and 2013.

Steve completed his pre-medical undergraduate program in Columbia University in New York. He currently resides in New Jersey.

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