For healthcare marketers, tech-obsessed millennials have become the primary target for digital ad campaigns — but they're not the only demographic that’s online...
It’s no surprise that most online marketing campaigns target millennials — after all, they are the world’s first generation of digital natives, and consume up to 18 hours of digital content each day (usually via multiple devices at once).
The only problem is that targeting millennials has become a de facto “best practice” for medical marketers, which, in reality, is actually counterproductive. While Generation Y is certainly a logical target, focusing exclusively on one audience segment means you’re missing out on huge revenue opportunities from other digitally active patient demographics.
OK, Millennials Do Dominate a Little
Here’s the unsurprising stat you’ve been waiting for: 96% of those 18-29 years old use the internet, according to Pew Research. Not far behind is the 30-49 group, who are 93% internet-connected. So in fairness to marketers within the healthcare industry: yes, these groups are indeed good targets for digital marketing campaigns. In fact, according to the latest Makovsky report, millennials are more receptive to online ads from pharmaceutical companies than any other generation (51%, vs 36% for Gen X), and are also more likely to click the first link in a health-related search (critical for PPC campaigns). They’re also 35% more likely to trust pharma-led social media campaigns than those over 66, for example, according to separate Makovsky research.
However, the notion that millennials are the only digitally active demographic is a far cry from the truth. In fact, according to Adweek, the demographic that spends the most time consuming online content per week is Baby Boomers. Surprised? We’re just getting started.
Other Demographics Are Online Too
According to eMarketer, 63.7% of Baby Boomers over the age of 66 used the internet last year, and participation is growing rapidly. Already, Pew reports that half of those aged 50-64 (a 57% increase since 2009) and 77% of those 30-49 use social media on a regular basis. While they might not be quite as digitally active as millennials, older generations have a significant online presence and are just as likely (60%) to share content on Facebook, says Adweek.
Even more interestingly, these older users are actively relying on the internet to manage their personal healthcare needs. According to Accenture, searching for health-related information is the number one reason that seniors go online: 58% of those 65 and older, and 71% of those 50-64, currently use the internet for exactly this purpose.
Marketing to seniors is doubly important because, by and large, their healthcare needs are broader and more immediately actionable than those of younger generations. According to the Advisory Board, healthcare spending by those 65+ could increase anywhere from $200 million to $1 trillion by 2024. And grim though it may be, 62% of Baby Boomers currently have at least one chronic health condition related to obesity, while it is predicted that 60% will have multiple obesity-related complications by 2030. In spite of such statistics, they have the longest life expectancy of any generation, ever, reports Time — which means they’ll be in need of ongoing treatment for many years to come.
Yes, millennials are incredibly important for healthcare marketers; no one can deny that. But as these statistics demonstrate, many in the 35+ age range are now relying on the internet as their primary health-related resource. As such, medical marketers must expand the narrow focus of their digital ad campaigns to include a wider range of patient demographics — that, or risk missing out on a huge revenue opportunity if the competition gets wise first.
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