Building Your Baby Boomer Base: The Power of Generational Marketing
The practice of Generational Marketing is an approach that utilizes generational segmentation to shape marketing tactics and messaging accordingly. It continues to grow in its use throughout the health care industry. Generational Marketing allows you to understand your target audiences and can be a difference maker between you and your competition.
This is the second in a series of articles that will outline how you can tailor your hospital marketing towards several key generational groups. This article is focused on how to reach the Baby Boomers (born 1945-1965).
Baby Boomer Basics
The term Baby Boomers is the distinction given to individuals born between the end of World War II, in 1945, and 1965.They were called Baby Boomers because of the dramatic increase of births during this period. They are also referred to as the “Me Generation” due to the emphasis they place on individualization and self-expression. Baby Boomers grew up wary of anything or anyone that represented authority. “Boomers” believe in presentism and adopted the motto “Be Here Now,” which reflects their emphasis on living in the moment and their optimism with the world. Some perceive Boomers to be singularly focused on themselves, but are very family-focused. They place an incredible amount of emphasis on familial roles and responsibilities.
Baby Boomers are a generation of workaholics who embrace putting in long hours. They relish the fact that their work defines them. Boomers tend to display openness to new technologies if the technology is easy to use and adds value to their work. Some have been fortunate enough to reap the benefits of that dedication by retiring early but 65% of Boomers plan to work past age 65 or do not plan to retire. They are demonstrating that enjoying retirement activities and still working are not mutually exclusive.1 In summary, Baby Boomers are short on free time but big on goals.
Boomers Belief in “Me First” Trumps
All Boomers are drawn to products and services that are relevant to their needs. One of the biggest pet peeves for Boomers are organizations referring to them as senior citizens or mature. Some other words or phrases that do not go over well with Baby Boomers are “retiree,” “aging,” “in the prime of their life” or “the golden years.” Boomers prefer to be addressed where they are in their life stage such as “empty nesters” or “sandwich generation.”
Boomers Focus on Living the Best Life Possible
Living an energetic and healthy life is a lifelong pursuit for Boomers. They focus their discretionary income and free time on reaching their wellness goals. Not surprisingly, they are always searching for products and services that can help the anti-aging process. They look to stave off weight gain while living a more natural life. Boomers are the crusaders for changing the face of 50 so keep that in mind when portraying them through images. Baby Boomers don’t want to view themselves as old or immobile. Storytelling is an effective means to reaching Boomers through words and images. Be sure the stories evoke relevant emotions that connect your product or service to them. Emphasize that they are living life to the fullest but avoid the traditional “retiree activities” such as biking, gardening and tennis wherever possible.
Boomers Love/Hate Relationship with Change
Boomers like flexibility and options but the word “change” is a double-edged sword for them. On one hand, they are proud to be the generation that brought change about in the world (think countercultures, feminism, suburbs). They like being considered agents of change to the world. Baby Boomers tend to prefer things that provide instant gratification and require very little change from them overall. Your communication should focus on what can be improved for them without major changes being asked of them.
The Key to Winning Boomers Over is Through their Wallet
Baby Boomers aren’t focused on prestige but they are responsive to being perceived as smart with their money. They are very aware of price and look for everyday low pricing vs. sales. Boomers generally do not respond well to time-sensitive offers but they do understand a “good deal.” Providing them with a competitive advantage that is value-added strikes to the core of Boomers’ primary question of, “What’s in it for me?” Focus your messages on building value in their minds. If they believe they are getting a good price for a superior product or service they see it as a win/win and will not pass that up. Boomers want to be the ones in charge of decisions, especially those for themselves. They do not rely on others to help make decisions, especially those that deal with spending money.
Marketing to Boomers Requires Efficiency
Boomers are always yearning for more information but are the least patient generation. Baby Boomers like facts that can help with making the decision but don’t appreciate a data dump of information. It’s best to categorize the proof points in ways that lead them to choosing one option over the other. Convenience is also a key factor in their decision-making process. As much as possible, make sure that all their possible questions about your product or service are answered. Providing a short Question and Answer section with your marketing will help Boomers greatly.
In general, Boomers like to receive their information through word-of-mouth advertising such as social events and seminars. Direct mail, TV and email are also marketing tactics that lead Baby Boomers to act. Boomers prefer the internet for gathering information about job opportunities and health information. In many cases, they will make up a large portion of your online customers. They also gather a great deal of their “facts” from social media sites. Make sure the products and services you are marketing to Baby Boomers have detailed information that is categorized in an easy-to-read format and avoid long narratives. Pull out your value propositions so they are easily digested and make your call to action by either phone or email. Their expectation is that once they take a step you need to respond quickly.
Remember to talk to Baby Boomers in terms that speaks to their need of self-importance and public recognition. Use phrases that place them as part of the solution, especially when asking for their feedback. Think about using phrases like “Your feedback makes a difference,” or “You are the reason we are successful.” If you can tie your product or service to a larger mission or a greater cause for the Boomers to believe in, your hospital will earn their loyalty.
- Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. Baby Boomers. Pioneers of a New Paradigm. 15th Annual survey of workers, 2014, from https://www.transamericacenter.org/retirement-research/15th-annual-retirement-survey/three-generations-press-release
Jason is CEO & Chief Strategy Officer of Brown Parker & DeMarinis (BPD), an internationally-recognized advertising agency that is on a mission to make health systems and hospitals the most beloved brands in the world. A pioneer in hospital marketing, BPD works with clients to unlock the power of their Purpose inside and outside their organizations, resulting in highly engaged employees and physicians and dramatically higher brand preference and service-line volumes.