Question: do women care more about their hair or their hearts?

I wrote about companies marketing health through the lens of beauty
last week in the context of promoting osteoporosis drugs.

P&G gets this approach. This isn’t surprising to me because P&G also understands, psychographically, why I (an economist married to a banker) still buy expensive Tide when I know from Consumer Reports that Costco’s Kirkland brand works at least as well!

Welcome to the “Heart of Beauty” campaign, promoting the heart-healthy benefits of Metamucil. Metamucil has been recommended by the American Heart Association as a useful product to help lower LDL (that would be the ‘bad’) choleserol.

The motivation of the campaign is to “beautify” your heart. The challenge is to lower one’s cholesterol by taking Metamucil and participating in an online community at through April 2008. The online community features fitness and nutrition counseling.

To plan its campaign, P&G conducted a survey last year among adults. They compared the steps women take for “inner beauty” versus “outer beauty.” Their press release says it all: “Study finds women pay more attention to their hair than their hearts.”

Here’s what they found:

For outer beauty:
On average, women spend $86 on cosmetics, skin care and hair products each month
88% of women use cosmetics or skin care products regularly
34% of women spend more than 30 minutes getting ready in the morning
92% of women use skin care products at least once a month.

For inner beauty:
On average, women spend $41 monthly on vitamins, minerals and supplements — twice as much as they spend on “outer beauty”
55% take vitamins one or more times per month
18% of women typically exercise for 20 minutes or more every day

22% of women take a fiber supplement at least once a month for heart health.

Finally, what do women talk about more: the “outer” stuff or the “inner?” You guessed it: 57% of women talk with friends and family about clothes, hair and makeup at least once a month; 38% talk about cholesterol and heart health.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: I think that 4 in 10 adult women talking about heart health once a month is a favorable sign. Public service announcements, food companies, and the medical community are getting the message out that heart disease is women’s #1 killer, ahead of breast cancer. In this Go Red month of promoting women’s heart health, the Metamucil campaign is trying to capitalize on the reality that women spend more time on their “outer” than “inner beauty.” P&G marketers — whose products touch people 3 billion times every day — embrace the reality of women’s everyday lives, and that, as Martha Stewart would say, is a very good thing (I’ve linked to some of Martha’s low-cholesterol recipe for my foodie readers. Bon appétit, à votre santé!).