Health Styles of the 40-Everything Woman

by Yahoo! and Digitas Health
Women in their 40s and 50s are a critical audience for advertisers today based on their tremendous spending power. For marketers in the health sector, this segment is especially critical since roughly 3 out of 4 women in this age range have at least one health condition. Yahoo! and Digitas Health partnered to thoroughly understand these women as people, not just as patients. We talked to thousands of women across America to move beyond the stereotypes and understand how women think and feel about their life stage, their health and caring for others with health conditions—so we can help marketers create more meaningful connections with this audience. Our comprehensive methodology included interviews with 100+ women 40-59, followed by a survey of 2,500+ women 20-59 to quantify findings.

Five major insights emerged:
1. Mid-life is mostly "wow" followed by a little good natured "ugh.": Mid-life is approached with a new zeal, as nearly half of women 40-59 strongly agree that they have a positive outlook on life, compared to only 36% for women 20-39. In fact, women in mid-life today are confident with nearly 50% strongly agreeing that they can do just about anything they really set their mind to. Likewise, when asked about her current life stage, 60% of women 40-59 strongly agree that she is less concerned with what others think about her, compared to 43% of younger women.

Her Outlook is Significantly More Positive than Her Younger Counterparts I strongly agree with the following statements (top 2 on a 7-pt. scale):

I have a positive outlook about life

48% 36% 31% 46%
40-59 20-39

Life is difficult


For more info on this study, please contact your Yahoo! account manager or call 866-747-7327.




Information is experienced as much emotionally as it is functionally. Not surprisingly, information plays an important functional role in making health decisions for this life stage. When asked what is important to them in health information sources, 69% strongly valued "expertise" and 67% strongly valued "making information easy to digest and understand." However, our unexpected learning was that emotional factors were equally important. Women indicated that they also valued emotional factors in their information sources—"have my best interests in mind" (66%) and have "no hidden agenda (66%)."

What Kind of Information do Women Want? I strongly value the following in health information sources (top 2 on a 7-pt. scale): Expertise

(info that comes from respected sources)

69% 67% 66% 66%

Makes info easy to digest & understand

Has my best interests in mind

No hidden agenda


The Web offers multiple touch points to help women "realize to decide." Approximately 34.5 million women aged 40-59 go online each month and 56% of the women we spoke to say they turn to online sources frequently as sources of health information and/or support. Long recognized as sources of support, online communities are also being recognized more often today as information sources in their own right. 43% of women in mid-life who turn to them do so to gather general health information and, giving is as important as getting.

of the women we spoke to turn to online sources frequently as sources of health information and/or support



"Yes Doctor" has become "Yes Doctor, but..." There has been a fair amount of research about how patients are doing research online before their doctor’s visit, and it remains true for this age group. Nearly half of women 40-59 strongly agree that patients have more of a role in diagnosis and treatment these days because so much information is available online. Interestingly, what women said they want from doctors, but don’t (often) get is "a partner

For more info on this study, please contact your Yahoo! account manager or call 866-747-7327.


who makes decisions with her, based on who she is and her context." While 60% say their conversations with doctors are productive, barely 34% say they are comfortable. There is a real opportunity to enable more comfortable doctor-patient conversations.



We have identified 5 health styles that come at the intersection between her outlook and her situation. Each of these styles defines a distinct approach to health decision-making and thus presents a unique opportunity for marketers looking to reach this audience. Stereotypes of women based on their life stage are obsolete and these approaches provide a fresh perspective for brands to have a better conversation with women. • Optimistic and proactive — She keeps a positive attitude and does everything she can to stay healthy: for her, it’s about healthy actions.

of women 40-59 strongly agree that patients play more of a role in diagnosis and treatment


• Savvy explorers — She loves researching online, leaving no stone unturned to base her decision on a solid, well-rounded understanding. • Connected consensus seeking — Her decision-making style is driven by connecting with people and talking through her options — turning to friends, family and especially others like her who speak from personal experience. • Detached and disinterested — She practically ignores the whole subject of health — including her own. Relatively healthy and skeptical, she is least engaged in health related issues. • Constrained and overwhelmed — This is the group that is most frustrated and overwhelmed by coping with chronic conditions and illness and has driven perceptions of a broad negative outlook at this life stage.

Implications for Marketers
• BE HONEST & STRONG. Messaging around women’s health should focus and celebrate her confidence during this life stage, but be humorously realistic about the stresses of life. • BE EVERYWHERE SHE IS. To engage her effectively, broaden how you think about how she engages with health information — think beyond narrow definitions of conventional online sources to "health-o-tainment," like The Biggest Loser or Dr. Oz. Know more about where she goes online so you can reach her more effectively. • BE IN THE CONTENT SHE CARES ABOUT. Women manage their health through medication, fortification and information. There’s ample opportunity to partner with publishers to create places of education, so brands should expand their focus beyond side effects of medication to become a resource on topics such as vitality, food and exercise. • BE PRESENT EMOTIONALLY. Women are not just looking for functional and prescriptive information around her health but also information that delivers emotional support and confidence in decision-making. Tailor your messages to provide that emotional support or create safe places for women to share their experiences anonymously. • BE SPECIFIC TO THE HEALTH STYLES. Health styles tell us a lot about where women go online and how they manage their life and health. To help her make better decisions and improve your ROI, develop campaigns, content and messaging that speak to the health styles that will work best for your brand.

For more info on this study, please contact your Yahoo! account manager or call 866-747-7327.

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