Healthy Aging Also Means Healthy Spending: Marketing to the Largest U.S. Population Segment
If visions of American seniors have you picturing elderly people sitting in assisted living homes and playing bingo, think again. Today’s seniors are vibrant, active and engaged. While many healthcare companies are focusing marketing and research dollars on millennials, consider this: baby boomers in the U.S. represent approximately one-quarter of the country’s population and control 70% of disposable income.1 However, only 15% of brands have a strategy to reach this market.2 That’s what we call opportunity.
Before marketing to seniors, you need to know some things about them. For example:
- The number of Americans aged 65 and older is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, with its total population share rising from 16 percent to 23 percent.3
- Due to increased longevity, with 82% living independently at home, baby boomers will spend more money on products and services designed to keep them healthy.4
- Seniors are twice as likely to use the Internet regularly compared with any other age bracket.
- With longer lifespans, Americans are holding off on retirement, not just because of financial responsibilities but because they want to embark on a second career in the “golden” years of retirement.5
- And even though their population is growing at a slower rate, seniors are expected to outnumber children in the United States by 2035.6
Brands would do well to reconsider the populations typically stereotyped as dependent, sedentary and well past their prime. Some industries have taken note, and they are on to something. Healthcare design and the explosive growth of 55+ communities are signs that lifestyle marketing to this demographic is imperative for brands who see this segment’s growth.
But what is the best way to engage with this demographic? What traits, behaviors and triggers compel Americans 55 and older to engage with a brand? If you have a healthcare product or service and want to engage with this demographic, do your research first. Here are some questions to help your brand understand this target market to create messaging that resonates with them.
For adults between the ages of 55 and 74:
- Where do you seek healthcare advice (health tips, doctor recommendations, treatments, symptom checks)?
- When scheduling a well visit with your doctor, how do you prefer to set up an appointment (phone, online, etc.)?
- Do you prefer telehealth or in-person visits for wellness visits?
- What is your biggest concern about aging?
- Do you plan to sell your home and move into an assisted living community? Or do you prefer independent living or at-home care for as long as possible?
- What do you wish companies/brands knew about you?
- What stereotypes do you hear about the 55+ age group (baby boomers and Gen X) that you feel are inaccurate?
- What is most important to you at this stage in life?
- Are you retired? At what age did you retire? If not retired yet, are you planning to retire? If so, at what age?
- What is something you wish to improve with healthcare services?
- Do you use apps? If so, what is your favorite? Would you use an app for healthcare services (scheduling appointments, ordering medication, viewing health info.)
- What events do you enjoy attending (art fairs, concerts, festivals, etc.)?
- Do you shop online? How often? For what?
- How often do you dine out of home?
- When you find a brand you like, do you stick with it?
- How much time do you spend on physical activity each week (exercise program, running, hiking, yoga, or other sport)?
- When you think of healthcare services, what brands come to mind?
- What is your favorite brand? What characteristics about this brand make it stand out above others?
- What major purchases (over $10k) do you plan to make in the next year? E.g. car, home, trip, luxury item, other
- Do you own a second home?
- Do you travel internationally?
- What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?
The responses to these questions offer a glimpse into the minds of the largest and most under-marketed segment of the U.S. population.
Effective messaging that resonates and drives action with your target audience always starts with a strategy rooted in research. For nearly 25 years, our health communications team has delivered critical support in market and audience research, integrated communications and creative services to help our clients better connect with their customers and stakeholders. We turn data into insights and insights into messages. Let’s connect on your next project.
- William E. Gibson, “Age 65+ Adults Are Projected to Outnumber Children by 2030”, March 14, 2018, accessed September 13, 2022
- Global Coalition on Aging, accessed September 13, 2022
- Fact Sheet: Aging in the United States, www.prb.org, Accessed September 9, 2022
- CHPA, “Too Big to Ignore: Boomers Are an Ideal Market for the Self-Care Products Sector. A strategic perspective for product developers, manufacturers, and marketers,” accessed September 8, 2022
- Jeffrey M. Jones, “More in U.S. Retiring, or Planning to Retire, Later,” July 22, 2022, accessed September 8, 2022
- Jonathan Vespa, “The U.S. Joins Other Countries With Large Aging Populations,” March 13, 2018, accessed September 8, 2022