In this age of digital, marketers are able to more easily target their audiences based on aspects like, well, age. And the age of your target audiences could play a part in determining the best messaging to use as well as which digital channels to employ. So we reached out to marketing experts to determine how their approach to reaching Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964) versus Millennials (born 1981–1997) differs, if it does at all. More specifically, we asked marketers about what social platforms they use for each generation, if they choose to use any newer technologies/digital platforms based on what generation they want to reach, and if programmatic buying or other targeting techniques can be used to send customized messages to each age group.

Dori Cappola

The ability to tailor specific messages to specific audiences is paramount and can be very powerful and effective in increasing response rates. After all, personalization of media is the ultimate goal—the only question is how best to achieve it. One recommendation: Use a combination of both content and audience-based targeting. Content targeting is fairly direct; simply run your ad when your specific area of interest is being discussed to help to increase the ad’s relevance and timeliness. Conversely, audience targeting can be quite complex. That is because while audience targeting can start with the most basic of criteria, such as gender, age, household income, etc., it can also be scaled up to become infinitely more complex by leveraging programmatic tactics.

Targeting Without Isolation

Even under the headline of programmatic media, audience targeting can range from being fairly straightforward to ultra-sophisticated, utilizing propensity models that can pull in medical data for even more efficiency. That said, in pharma, privacy is key, so when it comes to your brand’s messaging, we also recommend broadening your view a little to prevent “isolating” anyone. This has the added benefit of making your creative usable for a slightly broader audience, which will mean less variation to take through the med/reg/legal (MRL) review and approval process.

Kendra Fanara

Whoever said “one-size-fits-all” clearly never tried to squeeze their size 9 foot into a size 5 shoe. Let’s face it—it just doesn’t work. Much like a wrong-sized stiletto, social marketing is not a one-size-fits-all effort.

The role of social media within your strategy can make or break the success of your objective. Success depends on your ability to understand how different groups of consumers will react to your content. Generations play a huge role here—Baby Boomers and Millennials, for example, consume content very differently. To ensure success, marketers need to understand how content and platform preferences differ among different groups.

Generational Social Media Preferences

Baby Boomers are using social media and other digital devices not only to search for information, but also to stay in touch with family and friends. More than half of Boomers who use social networking sites will visit a company website or continue their healthcare search online because of something they saw on social media. Facebook, then, is a great platform to drive Boomers to your site, where you will have a clear call to action waiting for them.

Millennials, on the other hand, use social media as the primary source for information, presenting a bigger opportunity for marketers to reach them. I use a mix of multiple social media options to move this group—especially Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The particular platform to use depends on the type of content I am displaying and the action I am hoping my readers take.

When choosing the right platform for the right audience, strive to understand where people are going and the types of information they are consuming. Content is key, so ensure your content inspires, educates, innovates, and connects. Without relevant, interesting, and useful content, your digital marketing effort will be as obsolete as your size 5 shoe.

James Mackie

For marketing professionals, no shortage of smarts and stats exists that paint a picture of Millennials as young, urban, socially influential, digital natives with short attention spans. While I might even know a few Millennials who fit the profile, it’s not good enough for marketers to fall for these overly simplistic stereotypes. There is, in fact, a wide age range among Millennials—they are simply not a homogeneous group.

Marketing to younger versus older Millennials can be just as nuanced as marketing to other generations, like Baby Boomers. In healthcare marketing, the differences are even more nuanced. Millennials are not only consumers, patients, and caregivers, they are now also healthcare professionals. We’re already seeing significant differences in how next-generation Millennial HCPs behave in key areas, such as education, peer engagement, and interaction with patients.

Some Things Don’t Change With Age

Even though Millennial marketing is largely focused on digital channels, certain truths remain unchanged across all generations. While digital expectations are higher, consumers are more connected—and paths of brand influence are far more sophisticated—the fundamentals of Millennial marketing aren’t radically different than those of traditional marketing. Great marketing is still about courage, creativity, and simple ideas that reveal meaningful truths.

Millennials are just like any other smart consumer group—if you put them first, they will become a captive audience. They want to be entertained, inspired, and understood. More than past generations, Millennials expect authentic, transparent brand engagement. They crave brands that boldly stand for something. Be brave, touch their consciousness, and reach out to them at a deeper level. You may find that Millennials are a great audience who rapidly respond to great marketing.

Drew Fine

With dermal fillers, a common question for the 45- to 55-year-old women is: Am I going to look natural? For the new dermal filler launches of Restylane® Refyne and Restylane® Defyne, Galderma chose to put resources towards helping customers overcome this barrier with an emphasis on digital tools, emerging technologies, and a focus on testing and learning!

Before and after images are the status quo for this market. However, given the static nature of current tools, they can’t always convince someone they will look natural post-treatment. With this launch, Galderma used audience insights to change the game to showcase product benefits and results. Galderma knows Boomers want to see themselves in the brands they use (testimonials, proof from women her age) and Millennials use images to communicate. The answer was a digital solution, evolving to GIF/short-form videos that capture a range of people’s expressions—from smiles to grimaces.

The recently launched RestylaneUSA Facebook channel created a platform to reach out to consumers about their concerns. Galderma is optimistic our strategy with the page will allow us to meet our consumers where they are. It is early and we are still learning, but engagement rates are beating benchmarks and performing well.

Finally, Galderma identified emerging technologies as a way to help with training HCPs. We incorporated virtual reality to help explain the design and science of these new products, which led to our best training scores and feedback to date. We think there’s a strong path forward with training and education capabilities, but content development is the largest challenge.

At Galderma, we also keep 5% of budgets held for “test and learns,” so we can stay culturally relevant while keeping teams motivated.

The most commonly observed side effects include swelling, redness, pain, bruising, tenderness, headache, lump formation, and itching at the injection site. For full Important Safety Information, please visit

Dr. Andrée Bates

It is widely known that generations use technology and save data differently. This includes both the way they consume content and which devices and platforms they prefer. However, even within generational groups there are numerous individual differences. With the ability to analyze big data with artificial intelligence (AI), pharma marketers now have the ability to target right down to the level of the individual. This is the most powerful form of targeting so that content—and digital channels—can be tailored for the individual no matter what their generation.

Next Best Action Modelling

One example: Next best action modelling (NBA). You can think of NBA as a customer-centric approach that helps your customers take the “next best action” after they complete one action. It’s similar to Amazon’s recommendations—since you bought X, you may also be interested in Y. When done well, it’s incredibly powerful. NBA changes the paradigm. Instead of finding the next customer, it focuses on finding the best proposition for the customer to add value to them and be relevant for what they need at that time. This means the next best content and channel are served up by individual customers to maximize their engagement and journey to your brand.

This is a customer-focused rather than product-focused approach, and it treats each customer as an individual person within the context of their individual behaviors (past and present), needs, and preferences. It also works in the pharma industry. The foundation of NBA is a combination of data and advanced AI modeling to ensure that the most likely outcome is predicted from a set of interactions with a customer or customer segment. To be successful, it needs to be well-planned and executed. If you would like to read more of how this was applied within pharma, check out this case study:

Chris Cullmann

Many stereotypes surround the digital behaviors of Baby Boomers, Millennials, and all of the nuanced age brackets on either side of those groups. A strong digital marketing program should be informed by what behaviors it is designed to change. Both audiences are connected: A 2017 study from eMarketer, reports that more than 95% of Millennials and 78% of Baby Boomers are online.

However, for healthcare brands to capture the attention of Millennials, be prepared to engage them and project a positive reflection of who they are. A BCG.Perspectives study shows 18- to 24-year-olds gravitate to and share affinity with brands that “say something about who I am, my values, and where I fit in,” trading social media equity when they find brands that appeal to them. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers are more likely to choose brands based on value and reputation.

Choosing Emerging Platforms

Emerging platforms are critical to healthcare marketing—we are compared against every brand on the market, regardless of category. Our patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals are living in a rich and stimulating world, and it is our charge as communicators to put health messaging at center stage. Although virtual reality, augmented reality, and 360° video represent new and spectacular platforms, we need to find relevant and meaningful places for them in our audiences’ journey.

These mediums are critical to building engagements and relationships with our audiences. Millennials want to identify with their preferred brands, and they want to see their own values reflected back to them. Healthcare brands that can create meaningful touchpoints and adapt to new mediums are much more likely to find favor. These choices need to be informed by audience research and what is true to the voice of the brand creating it.

Bryan Kaye

In reaching different generations, approaches will vary in several ways, including messaging. It’s important to embed tailored messaging and multimedia at the content level, which would include variations in copy and accompanying multimedia content, always being mindful of the real-life value it brings to the audience and the way by which it captures attention.

When it comes to health, the most important difference actually isn’t digital at all—it’s the state of one’s condition at any given moment; the impact on their lives and families; and the many struggles they may face physically, emotionally, or in everyday activities. Understanding these details can provide unparalleled value in developing the right approach to truly connect with your audience via digital—not just market to them.

It starts with research and discovery. It’s “discovery,” because we are venturing deep into the digital world, exploring tech, mobile, social listening, uncovering insights, identifying opportunities, and understanding context—with that understanding, we lay a baseline for our path forward.

These insights form our strategy, teaching us how to speak to the individual, rather than the entire generation.

Different Ages, Similar Approach

While we see differences in content for each generation, how we use each platform to reach them may not actually be fundamentally different at all. We do see levels of consistency that transcend generations, namely in the established (though evolving) technical functionalities, unique features, and then how we combine those features to craft the best solution for engagement in a meaningful way, over time.

In the end, we all have one thing in common: We are attracted to good content. Whether the type that teaches, supports, entertains, or engages, at any moment we’re captivated by what we find interesting, intriguing, may answer questions, or provide value…or just plain silly GIFs that make us laugh.

Charles Ogden

There are big differences between connecting with Millennials and Boomers—differences that stem from their mindsets and relationships with media.

To generalize, for Boomers digital is a convenience; for Millennials it’s an essential. Digital is Millennials’ home turf. As the first generation who didn’t know a world without the Internet, their screens are their source of news and information; it’s where their friends are, and where interactions are immediately accessible. You need to reach them where they are and be additive—your marketing must enhance the experience they’re already having and feel integrated in the conversation.

Millennials’ attitude toward brands, and lifestyle in general, is different than Boomers’. They’re getting married later, and life-stage messaging doesn’t resonate as well. They’re concerned with social causes and social responsibility, equality, sexuality, and diversity. They’re skeptical of brands, placing more trust in social groups. They value health and wellness, and are using apps that help them stay healthy. According to an interesting Aetna survey, they view “healthy” as a commitment to exercising and eating well, where Boomers view healthy as “not sick.”

Millennials Reject Traditional Advertising

Be mindful that Millennials are media saturated. They’ll consume and share content more readily than Boomers, but they don’t want to be blatantly advertised to. Campaigns should appeal to what Millennials care about in a way that feels genuinely authentic. Such content is far more likely to resonate and be shared across social media—relatable messages are shareable, traditional advertisements are not.

The approach you take for Millennials can work for Boomers too, but not vice versa—Millennials don’t respond to the traditional tactics used for Boomers. For a Millennial audience, the way you create campaigns, the calls to action, the content, and the brand experience should be more sharable, less intrusive, more colloquial, and more tech-savvy.

Sunny Verma


In 1996, Bill Gates famously declared “Content is King,” accurately predicting the future of the Internet and the power of digital content. Decades after these prophetic words, Internet adoption has reached an all-time high with a 97% adoption rate among Millennials—and even a striking 76% adoption rate among older Boomers ages 60-69 ( Clearly digital content is here to stay. Indeed, consumers are relentlessly demanding relevant targeted digital content—content built upon a foundation of deep consumer insights generated through advanced data analytics. This potent fusion of customer, content, and data is transforming the digital content experience—and driving marketing strategies that transcend descriptions such as “Millennial” and “Boomer.”

In pharma, delivering the right message to each healthcare professional or consumer, based upon the stage of his or her journey, remains the key to engaging customers and driving sales performance across all channels and segments. Regardless of whether customers are Millennials or Boomers, the characteristic they all share is an ever-increasing expectation for content that speaks to their unique attitudes and behaviors. Hence, pharma companies are now starting to think like publishing companies, striving to meet the unprecedented demand for greater quality, variety, and quality of digital content.

Linking Content to Customer

As we study innovative players from other industries, we learn that data plays an integral role in linking the content with the customer—improving the quality and impact of the experience. Therefore, we view the ability to leverage advanced data analytics as the key to generating robust customer insights that yield relevant content.

The role of marketing is to positively impact customers’ attitude and behavior. In digital marketing, for Boomers and Millennials alike, content is the primary driver of the experience when it is timely, targeted, and relevant—guided by data insights and recommendations to boost customer engagement and positively impact their attitude and behavior.


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