The Three Types of Content That Mattered to Chemists in 2021

We reviewed the biggest stories – and what we can learn from them.

By CEN BrandLab

Reading Time: 3 minutes

All day every day, C&EN’s team is focused on how to better serve chemists at whatever stage they’re in in their professional pursuits – whether graduate students or CEOs of major chemical companies.

Doing that is no small feat. The team is constantly tapped into what scientists need to know, experimenting with new types of content, and exploring new channels for delivering it.

Knowing your audience is a critical part of marketing too. Understanding what chemists care about and how to help you reach them is why BrandLab exists.

Today, we’re sharing insights into what content was the most popular across our audience of members in 2021. And, of course, we’ve included recommendations for how marketers can leverage these insights to become more relevant and effective in your own work.

Insight #1: Chemists Were Personally Affected By COVID. They’re Also Really Interested in How to Technically Solve It.

Like every news outlet in 2021, C&EN’s coverage has included tight monitoring of COVID-19 and its impacts. But unlike other news outlets, C&EN went deep into the science of vaccines – specifically, how mRNA vaccines are made.

Both types of content attracted thousands of views. Scientists wanted to know about SARS-CoV-2 variants, but even more wanted to understand why lipid shells were critical to the creation of the mRNA vaccines, and how Pfizer’s oral inhibitor works.

Insight #2: Chemists Care Deeply About Their Community

C&EN’s people coverage ranked the most consistently as universally interesting to the scientists we serve. In 2021, coverage of underrepresented people in chemistry attracted thousands of views. Black chemists you should know about and LGBTQ+ chemists you should know about were among the most read stories of the year. C&EN’s Trailblazers issue, which celebrated Black chemists and chemical engineers, was also among the most read features.

Winners of coveted awards like the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, reports on salaries of US chemists, along with scandals involving individual chemists, also spiked readership.

Insight #3: Chemists Want to Read About the Near-Term and Long-Term Future

C&EN’s coverage of breakthroughs and their implications on the profession and society overall were among the most popular pieces produced in 2021. In particular, articles about chemist concerns about Delta-8-THC (a substance in cannabis), a special report on the future of gene editing, and a piece exploring whether ammonia is the fuel of the future were all highly read. 


These trends may or may not continue in the future, but C&EN’s coverage will continue to seek to hit the intersection of what matters most in chemistry, and what chemists care about. 

Why does this matter to the marketers we work with? 

BrandLab partners with brands in the pharmaceutical, life sciences, chemical and instrumentation industries to craft and share stories that earn the attention of scientists around the world. Understanding what makes scientists tick is our focus, and sharing that expertise with you helps us all provide better, more useful information to chemists. 

For marketers, there are a few takeaways: 

  • Invest in knowing your audience: Learning more about which topics grab the attention of key qualified audiences is the first step toward developing a relationship with the scientific community we serve. However, topics shift quickly – and understanding the themes, news and culture of chemists will help you stay relevant to them. 
  • Create content to meet their needs: Creating content around core topics of chemist interest will reach and engage these audiences in a way that grabs their attention on the topics they’re already interested in – a better way toward quality interactions. BrandLab can help you determine the best content types and channels for engagement. 
  • Focus on franchises: By understanding not just the topics but the types of content scientists prefer, it’s easier to build a flexible content strategy that allows for movement from topic to topic as new cycles mature and interests shift. Aligning with the science of how things work, the impressive people within the scientific community who make the work happen, and the future of the industry is a good place to start. 
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