The Silver Tsunami

Marketing Healthcare Services to the Boomer Population

It’s here. The silver tsunami. The huge wave of the United States population born between 1946 and 1964.  There are more than 75 million of us who are reaching the age when we need healthcare services more than ever before.

This demographic is not only big in size, but also big in wealth. While boomers account for 32 percent of the adult population, we account for 34 percent of the net worth and 39 percent of total income. So we’re not a group that marketers should overlook.

Today’s baby boomers have a number of unique characteristics when it comes to healthcare:

  • They are optimistic about their future health
  • They don’t see themselves as sick or old
  • They want to stay active for as long as possible
  • They have a sense of entitlement around healthcare innovation
  • They are willing to try new things
  • They aren’t digital natives, nor are they digital slackers
  • They are worried about healthcare costs

Our research tells us that boomers see themselves as “forever young” and want to remain active for as long as possible. They rely on both traditional and digital media, but younger boomers are more tech savvy.

Compared with younger consumers, boomers are less likely to go online and more apt to turn to their doctors for help managing their health. Physicians tell us that it’s not uncommon for their patients to come into their offices with information that they’ve accessed online (some of which is accurate and some isn’t).

Online boomers most often search for health information about conditions, drugs and doctors, and they’re also beginning to behave more like consumers when shopping for providers. In fact, about one-quarter of online boomers checked quality ratings or asked about cost before choosing a doctor.

The significant population of aging baby boomers is poised to change the way healthcare is delivered in the United States and technology has huge potential to help consumers take better care of themselves. As marketing and communications professionals, it’s critical that we understand the nuances of engaging with this group. When targeting baby boomers in the healthcare space:

  • Speak to their values and attitudes, not their age
  • Focus on positive messaging
  • Help them feel vital and in-control
  • Assume they are willing and able to use technology
  • Understand their multichannel media behaviors
  • Appeal to their need for simplicity and convenience
  • Establish personal connections

It’s also the perfect time to think not just about what we’re saying to this audience, but how and where we’re saying it. Brands targeting boomers are using improved design with larger fonts, simpler layouts and improved design that enables better understanding of often complex messages.  All of these add up to better communication that not just reaches but truly resonates with today’s active boomers.


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