By Catlin Renaud (@catlinrenaud)
Baby Boomers the 77 million people born between 1946 and 1964 are redefining aging and shattering traditional assumptions about the sixth and seventh decades of life. Weve all heard that 40 is the new 30, and that 50 is the youth of old age, but what does this mean for health care marketers?
Baby Boomers represent an ideal demographic because of their relative affluence. The influential over-50 market has $2.3 trillion in annual spending power and controls 50 percent of all discretionary income. Not only are they primed to buy, but theyre interested in retaining their youth and require more medical care for diseases and disabilities related to aging, presenting a growing opportunity for the health care industry.
The anti-aging movement encompasses technologies such as hormone replacement to slow the ticking of time as well as other products and services geared toward a youth-oriented culture: nutritional supplements, fitness facilities and trainers, medical spas, alternative medicines, and a focus on natural or functional foods.
Boomers want more than just to live longer; they want to stay healthy and active. They are powerful consumers of lifestyle drugs from arthritis medication to Viagra. Pharmaceutical companies recognize this as is apparent by the more than 400 drugs under development to tackle the effects of aging.
While marketers have traditionally lavished attention on the 18-34 demographic, the Boomers are the fastest growing demographic online, requiring marketers to rethink how they market and make products for older people. A misconception of this group is that they arent as active as younger generations on social networks, but according to IStrategyLabs, new Facebook users over age 55 grew by 922 percent in 2009 nearly three times the increase of the second largest demographic growth group of 33 to 54-year olds. Marketers should incorporate blogs, videos, podcasts and other social technologies geared to this demographic and allow them to share their opinions whether thats through comments, designated forums or Facebook fan pages.
Although Boomers only make up 21.1 percent of smartphone users today, eMarketer expects sales of smartphones to soar as they become more interested in these devices. This presents an opportunity for health care application developers as Boomers begin using devices not just for business, but to manage medications and other health care needs. For example, todays patients have more than two thousand apps to manage a range of diseases from diabetes to arthritis. As mobile Internet adoption rates soar, marketers should complement traditional media outreach with mobile initiatives aimed at this demographic.
As the worlds of health care and gaming collide, this presents another opportunity for attracting the attention of Baby Boomers. According to game developer Popcap Games, nearly half (46 percent) of social gamers are at least 50 years old and the average social gamer in the U.S. is a 48-year-old woman. In fact, 20 percent of social gamers were 60 or older. Social gaming is a fast-growing pastime, representing yet another avenue for health care marketers to connect with aging adults.
As Boomers embrace the role of both care giver and patient, they are an ideal segment for health care marketers. Theyre growing comfortable with new technologies and actively looking for information, whether thats to manage their own disease or that of a loved one. As they increase their use of social media and new technologies, marketers should develop valuable interactive content for this population interested in cultivating a healthy lifestyle.