More than 10,000 Americans turn 65 every day, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And those seniors are living longer, much healthier, more active lives. Seniors currently account for more than 60 percent of healthcare spending, and their Internet use has doubled over the last five years. But DTC marketers can’t push irrelevant messages to this growing segment because they are also skeptical of “marketing claims.”

Older demographics typically see themselves 10 to 20 years younger than their real age, so of course it makes sense to not make anyone in these groups feel “old” in your communications: an image of a gray-haired oldster and “silver” sprinkled through the copy won’t do much to win them over.

Most seniors want health information that is both credible and real-life. You need to go beyond the obvious fair balance to provide tips on maintaining a high quality of life while under treatment— addressing both the demands of the disease state and, if necessary, some of the consequences of the medication. If your product makes people feel tired, for example, include information on steps patients can take to boost their energy levels. DTC marketers have to be very clear about brand messages for older consumers. Members of this group tend to be intensely skeptical, and they’ve been around the block more than a few times—“Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt.” So you can’t pander…but don’t make it unnecessarily hard, either. On your “drug.com” websites, you might want to ensure that the fonts are at least 12 points. Avoid using Flash, and make sure the pages are printer-friendly, so consumers can print out this credible, real-life information and discuss it with their doctors.

Seniors also tend to be more health-oriented and proactive than other demographics. Because of Medicare, they don’t avoid trips to the doctor, and they tend to be very demanding when it comes to choices in prescription products. While they do want to save money on their prescriptions, they also can be finicky about being forced to change to generics if branded products are working well for them.

You might think reflexively that social media is for younger demographics. But did you know that seniors are the fastest growing segment of social media users? They are keeping up with current friends and family, reaching out to past loves and old friends, and tracking what many others are doing in their later years. Among other things, they are trolling for ideas and input on healthcare decisions.

Seniors have a high level of disposable income, and they are having more of a say about healthcare treatments. Don’t expect to get it right the first time when marketing to this segment, and keep in mind that they expect a lot in healthcare marketing.

  • Richard Meyer

    Richard Meyer has worked in healthcare marketing for more than 12 years and is the author of www.worldof dtcmarketing.com and www.newmediaand marketing.com. He is the Director of Online Strategic Solutions.

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