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Understanding the Spanish Culture for High Impact Multicultural Pharma Marketing

As Peter Drucker, renowned educator, management consultant, and author, said, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” This mantra holds true with multicultural marketing in the pharmaceutical industry, especially with Hispanic and Latino populations. Successful pharmaceutical marketing amongst the Spanish groups should focus on providing personalized care to the right individual at the right time in the right place thereby expanding upon the basic tenet of the Affordable Care Act which reaches all Americans.

Below are a few cultural considerations that increase industry profits by positively impacting the development of strategies for pharma marketing to Hispanic and Latino consumers who experience customized care.

Family Dynamics vs. Individualism

  • Group interdependence among family is at the center of the Hispanic world. Affiliation, cooperation, and group activities are weighted heavily as Latinos understand there is strength in numbers. Their health decisions rely on an extended family model and are typically made after consulting various family members. Opinions from adult children of the older generation are valued extensively. Pharma branding with marketing campaigns needs to be family-focused.

Imagery vs. Text

  • In the Hispanic culture, a picture is worth a thousand words. Incorporating culturally embedded cues into pharma marketing that reflect attire, family values, symbols, ethics, rituals, traditions, material objects, and services in their culture, stimulate how these consumers respond to the pharma industry. Through this identification process both their self-image and confidence in pharma’s judgment of prescription medication is enhanced, resulting in a change in their attitude towards the brand and eventual increased brand acceptance.

Technology Media vs. Traditional Media

  • In the past, it was widely believed that the only effective way to deliver Spanish-language pharma marketing messages was through traditional media, such as the television networks Telemundo and Univision. However, the newer generation of Hispanics on the go are not as interested in traditional media; they are more interested in smart phone technology and social media sites. One in three are the primary pharma decision makers as caregivers of an older generation of family household members and make their choices by engaging with technology media. They are three times more likely to use their smart phones to decide about pharma for themselves and other family members. Pharma marketing via technology media will soon become a leading strategy that is mandatory.

Fatalism vs. Optimism

  • Many Latinos believe that destiny is predetermined and little can be done to change outcomes. For example, they may believe that death is inevitable after receiving a cancer diagnosis and also believe that any type of prescription drug cannot improve the chance of survival because it is out of their control. A Hispanic participant in a recent NIH study sorrowfully stated, “I worked with a person who had arthritis and was going to get cortisone but the last time she went to get it at the hospital, she didn’t return home. Instead, she went to the cemetery.” Pharma marketing must help Hispanics move beyond this mindset by reinforcing examples of positive outcomes in their culture with marketing campaigns targeted at patient support groups on social media, such as Facebook, that encourage pharmaceutical use to recover from an illness.

Natural Healing Remedies vs. Prescriptions

  • Home remedies tend to be the first medicinal approach used in the Latino culture prior to visiting a medical professional. However, often times these home remedies are more detrimental than beneficial. For example, recently Hispanic parents treated their infant with star anise tea to cure colic, which resulted in the infant suffering from seizures and needing to be rushed to the emergency room at a Miami hospital. Pharma marketers should see this as a new opportunity to gain market share by targeting Latino consumers with public service announcements about the dangers of consuming natural healing remedies in lieu of advanced pharma medications with proven results.

High Power Distance vs. Low Power Distance

  • Pharma marketing in the Spanish culture is impacted by high power distance because Hispanics conform to a hierarchy where everybody has a place in the world which needs no further justification. On the other hand, in a low power distance culture, inequalities of power between doctor and patient require further justification for acceptance. For example, when doctors prescribe a certain brand of medication to Latinos, often times the pharmaceutical is not questioned since the doctor is viewed as an authority figure not to be doubted for fear of appearing disrespectful. Pharma companies may gain a competitive advantage by providing guides to Hispanic patients describing the brand’s impact and side effects in plain, simple, straightforward, 3rd grade level Spanish language for additional motivational encouragement to stay on a medication regimen with a specific brand.

In summary, minorities are increasingly becoming the new majority and the so-called “average” pharma consumer is now interacting on a complex and multidimensional landscape. Knowing the customer is most likely the single most important concept of a flourishing pharma market across cultures, and in particular with the Hispanic and Latino groups. This growing diversity has had a substantial economic impact as shown by an increase in pharma spending power that has significantly encouraged marketers to take into account various cultural characteristics when formulating a winning marketing strategy.

 

Resources

Barker, KK and Guzman, CEV. Pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer advertising and US Hispanic patient-consumers. Sociology of Health & Illness. 2015 Nov; 37(8):1337-51. doi: 10.1111/1467-9566.12314. Epub 2015 Aug 3.

Katz JN, Lyons N, Wolff LS, et al. Medical decision-making among Hispanics and non-Hispanic Whites with chronic back and knee pain: A qualitative study. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders. 2011;12:78. doi:10.1186/1471-2474-12-78.

Pinedo, Diana. (2018). The state of multicultural marketing in 2018. Healthcare Success.

Multicultural marketing: Embrace the New Normal. (2016). PM360 Online.

The Case for Culturally Competent Health Marketing. (2016). Newlink America.

Linda J. DiPersio
Professional Writer
Linda J. DiPersio, MSM, MSHC, is a professional writer. Currently, she is pursuing a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) degree at California Southern University. Linda earned a Master’s in Health Communication from Boston University and a Master’s in Management from Lesley University. She has been published in the Journal of Communication in Healthcare. Linda is a researcher/writer for the Public Health Museum and a member of the American Public Health Association. She is the author of psychological, pharmaceutical and historical health information on her website: www.health-savvy-with-Linda-DiPersio.com.
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