The 'Aging-in' Opportunity for Healthcare Brands
Health systems increasingly use return on investment (ROI) metrics as a means of instilling discipline into the marketing function. In turn, a marketer might focus on the 65 and up segment because of perceived near-term needs that will generate revenue quickly, or they might target much younger adults to earn maternity and pediatric customers in the hopes of larger customer lifetime value (CLV) estimates. But there’s a middle group who may be more persuadable: The younger "aging-in" population.
I’m not referring to "aging-in" in the almost-ready-to-sign-up for Medicare sense, but rather to the 50-64 year old population that often seems overlooked in health system marketing plans. This demographic is working, has seniority with their employer, has favorable commercial insurance, and is starting to consume more health services. They are starting to pay attention to the health category.
This segment combines the tail-end of the Baby Boomers and the leading edge of Generation X. Their life experiences were shaped by hard rock, disco and pop music, political scandals, gas lines, economic booms and the Great Recession. And even though they may now take blood pressure or cholesterol medications, they maintain a self-perception of being younger and are looking forward to this window of time between the kids finally moving out and the contemplation of retirement.
So, how do you persuade them? Targeting from a media perspective is relatively easy. The harder part is avoiding the clichés of ‘senior marketing’ that turn-off this segment. Here are three tips:
- Don’t overly focus on age as part of your visual or narrative message. This group intellectually understands they are getting older, but attitudinally pushes back on messages that seem designed for the ‘senior’ set. This is an important distinction from older segments that embrace the ‘senior’ designation and silver-haired imagery.
- Focus on their motivations. These prospects are interested in experiences large and small that they may have previously delayed. The emphasis is on the ability to ‘do.’ This is strongly tied to a person’s motivations for new experiences and why your clinical service line needs to be in the context of enabling an engaged lifestyle with minimal disruption.
- They carry a sense of responsibility. This segment will go online to do research and can be cynical about superficial content, so make sure there’s a “there, there” when they land on your campaign page. This group solves problems at work and will approach a service line in the same way. Once they land on your page, your content needs to be structured to allow for deeper dives into volume/quality, return to work speed, how to access, cost considerations and next steps.
The 50- to 64-year-old aging in place segment represents a strong segment with favorable income and insurance, rising health needs and an increasing wiliness to listen to your message — as long as you don’t make them feel old.
Michael Crawford became interested in healthcare listening to the conversations around the patio table as his parents and their colleagues talked about work. For the past 30 years he's used his marketing expertise to help medical groups, hospitals and health systems connect with consumers, physicians, employers, brokers and health plans. He advocates for a strategic approach to marketing, audience-based communications, coordination between marketing and customer service functions, and early inclusion of the marketing discipline when planning services. His work has earned more than a dozen awards over the past few years. He’s no stranger to healthcare reorganizations or healthcare reform, from the failed effort during the 90s to the implementation of the ACA to today’s efforts at repeal. His blog, Healthcare Marketing Survival Guide, offers advice for B2C and B2B healthcare marketers trying to chart their course during uncertain times. Connect with him via LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter @health_crawford.