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A Growth Opportunity for Pharma: Hispanics

Posted by | 6:25pm on Friday, February 17, 2012

From 2006 to 2011 Latin health search keyword queries grew 588% per Google 

I attended the Google Hispanic Marketing Forum on February 15, 2012 in New York City. While Hispanics are certainly not a rare market, whenever I get a chance to attend a Google event I go because I always learn something new.

According to the last US census, one in six Americans are now Hispanics, and this figure is rapidly growing. Although all the speakers were excellent, I’m going to share insights from the presentation that focused on pharma and a few other facts. Eric Talbot, who spent a dozen years in pharma and is currently at Univision, started his talk with the fact that about 69% of Hispanics have health insurance and currently represent 9% of the US adult pharmaceutical market. This is a growing market and represents an opportunity.

From 2006 to 2011 Latin health search keyword queries grew 588% per Google. Television (33%) and online (29%) are the main media sources of health for Hispanics. Interestingly, 78% of Hispanics use search engines to find more info on something they saw on TV. In terms of digital, with Spanish ads a Spanish landing page is preferred, but Talbot noted that even with an English page the bounce rate is not huge. It’s important to note that overall 80% of Hispanics search using mobile devices.

A gap in diagnosis
Comparing the patient journeys of Hispanics to Caucasians from diagnosis to adherence, the biggest gap was in diagnosis. Both groups have similar treatment and adherence rates. According to Talbot, the opportunity for pharma is to increase awareness and provide education to accelerate and increase diagnosis. Talbot noted that less than 1% of direct to consumer ad dollars by pharma is spent on the Hispanic marketing, and many major brands have no online Spanish presence.

Although many Hispanics speak English, Talbot shared a study that showed watching TV ads in English garnered less brand awareness and decreased understanding of the medical concepts.

Language is not the only potential barrier to reaching Hispanics; there are also cultural differences. To illustrate this, Talbot screened two Flomax commercials: one in English and one in Spanish. The English-language ad focused on the discomfort the man felt while the Spanish-language ad focused on the husband’s responsibility to his family to go to the doctor. The Spanish-language ads were very successful, resulting in a 250% increase in Flomax.

Overall, it’s an interesting idea in this time when the US marketing as a whole is getting saturated. What do you think?

YouTube is gonna be even bigger
The event also made clear that Google has recruited quality partners to make serious investments in developing content for YouTube. A number of speakers made the point that we were on the cusp of something big, and that instead of thinking of developing for a specific medium (TV, digital, etc.) it’s all about developing good content. Ben Silverman, former NBC head who has a company partnering with YouTube, said, “It used to be a broadcast-centric model; now it’s a consumer-centric model.”

(Image courtesy of Eileen O’Brien).

About Eileen O'Brien

Eileen has more than 16 years of digital healthcare marketing experience. She is an opinion leader on social media and biopharma, and has been invited to speak at industry conferences and quoted in publications.

View other posts from Eileen

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    17 February 2012 at 11:02pm
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  • http://twitter.com/eileenobrien Eileen O’Brien

    MM&M reports on more of the details from the Univision data referenced in this post: http://www.mmm-online.com/univision-study-finds-demand-for-in-culture-communications-to-hispanics/article/227926

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  • http://liquidgrids.com Jack J. Florio


    I fully support your comments – especially as it relates to the gap in diagnosis. When I was with Eli Lilly, back in the 90′s we ran programs called “Hispanic Health Initiatives.” We went into 5 major Hispanic markets and ran programs on diagnosis and treatment of diseases like depression, ulcer, etc and brought a panel of culturally aware physicians together on a panel and had several hundred physicians in the audience. The focus was to under diseases from the cultural and linguistic perspectives of the Hispanic patients to provide the best possible care and advice to patients for after they left the office. Recommendations to patients had to fit their cultural, family, dietary, etc customs to be effective.

    At LiquidGrids we are focused on Social Healthcare Intelligence and engagement for pharma companies we recognize the importance here as well. We have hired Christine Soya (@csoya), Medical Anthropologist and Social Media Strategist. She has been invaluable in assisting our clients identify more effective ways to both listen to consumers in the social world as well as engage back with them.

    As an industry, we must continue to improve our cross cultural communications.

    Jack J. Florio, CBO – LiquidGrids

  • Katie Mihelich

    Here’s a good example of a Hispanic focused campaign from Novo Nordisk:

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