Thinking beyond the pink

Friday, November 30, 2007

Although the month of October, otherwise known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, sees women's health providers ramping up promotions and educational outreach, many agree that the overall message of the services they provide gets lost in a sea of pink.
"There's so much hype," said Vicki Jones, founder of the Women's Heath Boutique franchise. "The industry has done well at promoting awareness. What we have to do now is offer solutions."
"Cause" marketing, in which everything from kitchen appliances to chocolates to Ford Mustangs is tied to breast cancer awareness with a portion of proceeds donated, benefits mainly the manufacturers, say providers.
"I see a lot of it as just advertising," said Lucy McCarthy, owner of Natural Woman in Geneva, Ill., and a 27-year breast cancer survivor. "It's overdone, and I really don't think people are paying that much attention to it."
The promotions can get overwhelming, agreed Cheryl Hoyt, owner of Rockland, Md.-based Cheryl's Health Boutique.
"I have this conversation a lot, especially with women going through treatment who are saturated with it," she said. "It's always in their face."
It's best to read the fine print to see where your money is going, said Vicki Blevins, manager of VDK Turning Point in Lexington, Ky.
"I encourage women to ask what resource it goes to," she said. "How does it impact them? I know Susan G. Komen Foundation affiliates keep 75% of every dollar raised in that community."
The bar has been raised on awareness. It's time to change the focus, say providers.
"There are better products and services to make women look good and feel better," said Jones. "The challenge is getting information out about the tangible benefits to women (we offer) as opposed to just trying to raise awareness."