Generation Jones: Marketing Healthcare to Young Baby Boomers
While some debate still lingers about what exactly to call “young” Baby Boomers—those born between, say, 1955 and 1964—universally known and accepted is this segment’s unprecedented impact on the healthcare industry, and its critical importance to healthcare marketers as a result. In terms of size, income, and standard of living, this distinct population segment is different—and perhaps more powerful—than any other mainstream demographic in history. And while given various monikers like “Generation Jones” or “shadow Boomers,” or even clustered together as part of Generation X, this group, which today includes adults ages 52-61, will demand and consume more healthcare services than any other in U.S. history thus far. Just consider these facts and figures:
- Size: Conservative estimates peg the total Baby Boomer population around 76 million, with young Boomers representing slightly more than half, at 38 million+
- Affluence: The 55+ age group controls more than three quarters of the nation’s total wealth, according to Forrester Research
- Standard of Living: Boomers exceeded the previous generation’s living standards by a huge margin, outconsuming their parents by 50-60 percent on a per capita basis, and living longer to boot
Marketing healthcare services to young Boomers, though, requires a special understanding of their unique needs and usage patterns. For example, these health-conscious consumers utilize technology differently than other generations, and aspire to participate more actively in their own care. It’s likely, however, that providers who take proper steps today to engage young Boomers will enjoy sustainable relationships for the next 20 years or more. Here are several ideas for making the most of this tremendous generational opportunity.
Meeting Unique Consumption Patterns Among Boomers
Advancements in healthcare and technology are a big part of why Baby Boomers are living well and remaining in the workforce for longer than previous generations. And while Boomers’ parents likely never used the internet or owned an email address, much less a computer or mobile phone, Baby Boomers—especially those in this younger sub-segment—are hip to today’s modern technology, although they do tend to use it in their own way. Understanding young Boomers’ unique consumption patterns for technology, products, and specialized services is the first key to effectively marketing to this demographic:
- They’re online…a lot On average, Boomers spend more time online each week (27+ hours) than any other demographic—even Millennials—and are now considered the fastest-growing user segment on the web.
- But mobile isn’t their preferred medium While Boomers are avid internet users, two-thirds use a desktop computer to access information online. In addition, only one in three uses a smartphone. This data points to the importance of long-form digital communications like blogs, newsletters, and special reports for communicating with this audience, which is also one of a select few that still tends to respond well to printed materials.
- They spend Boomers account for almost $7 billion in annual online sales, outspending the younger generation by 2:1 per capita and further validating Boomers’ role as affluent and tech-savvy consumers.“(Boomers) want to prevent health problems in their lives whenever possible and are willing to do, and pay, whatever it takes within their means to ensure that they don’t just live longer, but live better. They refuse to believe that aches and pains are the price one must pay for growing older.” – HealthLeaders Report
Creating Marketing Messages Boomers Want to See
Never known simply to “follow the crowd,” Boomers helped usher in a new age of consumerism, and were the first generation to compel businesses to cater to their ever-growing and changing needs. As a result, these consumers expect unique value, crave ease of use, and are ambitious in their self-directed pursuits of health- and product-related information. The best and most easily accessible tool at their disposal? The internet, of course. Inbound marketing tactics work especially well among younger Baby Boomers, who hope to derive practical, reliable information from healthcare websites and marketing messages, and are likely to associate value and trustworthiness with those who deliver it. So whether it’s facts about Medicare, tips on disease or injury prevention and diagnosis, or help understanding and selecting the best treatment option from numerous available choices, be sure to start by originating content that meets Boomers’ needs…they’ll seek it out and respond if you do. Then, using content as a foundation, utilize additional inbound tactics like social media, video and Q&A sessions, and organic search to expand your online presence and connect with young Boomers actively seeking out relevant health information. Become a trusted resource online, and create programs empowering current patients to become referral sources, as Boomers are inclined to do their own homework when selecting service providers, but do tend to trust guidance from peers and regarded experts. Perhaps above all, recognize that the tone, voice, and even purpose behind your marketing shouldn’t be geared toward selling services, but instead about empowering and celebrating the active, health-conscious lifestyle that’s common and coveted among this demographic. Provide value by offering an easy-to-use, patient-facing website, complete with searchable health information, convenient portals for scheduling, prescription management, viewing records and data, and interacting with a physician or specialist to help transcend the traditional provider/patient relationship and become the active, continuous health and wellness partner that young Boomers want and demand.