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Boomers and Healthcare Marketing

Maren Elwood, President of OnSite Research has done some interesting research on what she calls Boomers and Zoomers, as part of OnSite’s CyberCensus 2008. Her method of research is called ethnography, where the researchers imbed themselves with those they are interviewing to get an in-depth look at their subjects in their own environment.

The quality of this research often provides richer insights into what people do, rather than simply what they say in a focus group in an unfamiliar setting.

Maren says, “On-Site has developed a new cyber segmentation based on cyber literacy, not demographics. We found that age is not what determines your level of comfort with online tools, it’s your level of cyber literacy. Many Boomers have become ‘Zoomers’, people who are comfortable with online tools, but other Boomers have given up with technology.”

Watch the Youtube clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLs8BxNpd1o

Since being exposed to her work on the difference between Boomers and Zoomers, I’ve been thinking about how important it is for health & wellness companies marketing to the Boomer generation (78 million Americans) to understand the difference between these two groups and to choose the appropriate messaging and media for each.

With a huge wave of up-and-coming Boomers hitting the half-century mark, someone turns 50 in America every 8 seconds, there is obviously going to be a slew of new products and services to accommodate them in the next phase of their lives.

A quick check on the advertisements on AARP Healthy Living section serves up a Kellogg’sTM Live Bright TM Brain Health Bars advertisement and an ad link to Oral Longevity, an initiative between the American Dental Assocation and GlaxoSmithKline promoting good oral healthcare habits to older Americans.  The former ad appears to target Boomers leaning towards prevention and willing to try new products that may well serve these interests.  The latter ad appears to speak in a more traditional style educating and advising older Americans about good habits for oral care.  Each one served up on the AARP site but with distinctive styles addressing different audiences.

So it may be wise for us marketers to remember that just because someone was born between 1946 and 1964 doesn’t mean they should all be considered one huge target market. It’s not the python that swallowed the Volkswagen. And this is where it becomes interesting.

The challenge for marketers is going to be as Boomers mature we are able to identify and understand the needs of the various sub-groups within the 78 million. They see themselves as a sub-group of one, with a desire to be targetted individually not as one of 78 million.

Even though there are many high-tech tools available to us now, it won’t be worth the effort using these tools if the Boomer on the receiving end is closed to that style of message or media.

Posted in: Baby Boomers, Cyber-literacy

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