Why is Diversity Marketing Important to Pharma Brands?

July 20, 2020

Diversity marketing has become a hot topic. U.S. brand agencies and managers are trying to meet the cultural demand for more inclusion of diverse races, gender identities, religious beliefs, and other personal characteristics into mainstream communications.

Brands such as McDonald’s, Target, AT&T, and Harley Davidson have each embraced diversity marketing. But why has it become so important? And why should it matter when it comes to pharma marketing?


What is Diversity Marketing?

Also known as ‘inclusive marketing’ or ‘in-culture marketing’, diversity marketing is the practice of embedding language, images, and messaging that seeks to connect with a broad coalition of audience members. Moreover, the emphasis is not only to appeal to a broad audience but to establish a brand reputation that is inclusive of multiple different personas.

According to

“Diversity marketing involves acknowledging that marketing and advertising must offer alternative ways of communicating to these diverse groups. With that knowledge, diversity marketers aim to develop a mix of different communication methods in order to reach people in each of the diverse groups present in the market.”

As it applies to pharma brands, diversity marketing seeks to connect with physicians and other healthcare professionals (HCPs) – as well as consumers – based on a variety of physical attributes, education backgrounds, belief systems, heritages, politics, and other defining characteristics.


Why is Diversity Marketing Important to Pharma Brands?

Pharma brands have been diversifying their leadership and organizations for years. According to, six of the top global pharma brands were already ranked among the most diverse companies in 2016. And there is good reason for brands to transform organizationally into higher diversity: better financial performance.

But similar impacts can also be felt when marketing campaigns become more inclusive. Today’s audiences want to see or hear more than one persona in marketing content. A 2019 survey by Google and The Female Quotient revealed that 64% of consumers “took some sort of action after seeing an ad they considered to be diverse or inclusive“ – with some segments responding at a higher percentages:

  • Latinx+ (85%)
  • Black (79%)
  • Asian/Pacific Islander (79%)
  • LGBTQ (85%)


In addition, Adweek reported on a 2017 study of 1,500 marketers that found – among other results – 80% agreed using images that show nontraditional families, workplaces, and individuals reflect modern society and helps generate a positive brand reputation. By taking a more inclusive approach to pharma brand marketing, marketers can avoid perpetuating racism, sexism, classism, tokenism, ignorance, and reductive stereotypes.

Image removed.


3 Steps to Improve Diversity in Pharma Marketing

If your pharmaceutical marketing has not fully embraced the paradigm of diversity marketing, here are a few initial steps you can take to become more inclusive in your campaigns.


Deep dive into your audience.

Look at data to refine your ‘audience intelligence’ as it relates to gender, income levels, geographies, race, etc. If necessary, conduct focus groups to better understand characteristics that are not easily tracked, such as a physical capability or alternate points of view. Once you have defined characteristics, create personas for campaign targeting across various audience segments.


Organize a diverse panel review board and feedback loop.

Getting feedback is helpful when building your marketing assets. Create a review team of diverse employees that can shape campaigns to be more inclusive. Then design a feedback loop that maximizes group input while not becoming a bottleneck that slows production.


Hire with diversity in mind.

Finding great talent across multiple cultural, ethnic, racial, and gender paradigms can improve marketing campaign inclusion. By not only hiring but hearing from a diverse population of workers, brands can plan and execute campaigns that have more of a chance of hitting home with multiple audiences.

Inclusiveness can also help thwart potential cultural mistakes. As the Content Marketing Institute points out:

“One needs only look to Gucci in 2019... it had to atone for another cultural mistake – turning Sikh-like turbans into a fashion statement. The garment adorned their runway models and was sold as ‘Indy Full Turban’. Perhaps if its team had included people of color and/or the Sikh faith who knew their input would be welcomed, these scenarios would have turned out differently.”


As you prioritize diversity, consider where you place your inclusive messaging. Elsevier has multiple advertising opportunities to reach any audience of HCPs in print or in digital formats. Contact us today for more details.


Article Written by: Alex Brown


Share this blog
Share Post to LinkedIn Share Post to Facebook Share Post to Facebook

Related Blogs

To get the latest in pharma and med tech marketing