Mature market consumers can hardly be understood without a clear view of their varied, specific experiences in mind. As businesses fully appreciate the mature market and it’s formidable spending power, smart marketers will segment these consumers with respect to several unique considerations.
A momentous paring of powerful demographic events has just occurred — the 65+ are the fastest-growing segment of our population — and every 8 seconds, a “leading edge” boomer is having a 66th birthday in 2012. And remember, there are 80 million of them out there. Corporate America is unprepared for this demographic revolution.
As baby boomers join this fast moving parade to seniorhood, the market is being redefined by a generally more wealthy, demanding consumer. Cognizant of substantial revenue at stake, advisors, marketers, advertisers and sales professionals are striving to understand and connect with their mature target market. In doing so, it is essential that your differentiation and segmentation are based on more than just age.
Older consumers are not one simple category, and should not be approached as such. Instead, successful marketers will segment their mature target market into sub-groups, according to health status, life stages, socioeconomic circumstances, values, generational cohort and personal histories. Keep in mind, your own age and life experience as a marketer will influence your ability to empathize and understand the life changes that define your older customer.
For instance, a person’s health status has a dramatic influence on their perspective. Chronic conditions are a natural part of the aging process and your mature target market will include people dealing with a very wide range of issues, some more serious than others. They may suffer from arthritis, impaired vision, changing metabolism, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, menopause, prostate problems, Alzheimer’s, or some combination of more than one of the above. Are these customers sick or well? They’re both, and they will in most cases manage these conditions seamlessly for many years. Communicators with any segment of the mature market should be mindful of the influence these evolving conditions will have on their customers’ needs, perceptions and choices.
Research has also shown that consumers’ life stages have perhaps the most profound impact on their thinking and behaviors. Life stages define the way people look at the world at any given moment. For example, some mature market consumers are dual income and have kids at home. Others may be empty-nesters enjoying their new found freedom whose adult child just lost a job and has moved back home. Your target customer may be a grandparent, retired but still working part-time. Older seniors may be struggling with the loss of the spouse; this may leave them with financial concerns or symptoms of depression, even if they never dealt with these problems previously.
Another may find that their caregiving responsibilities for a loved one in another state occupy nearly every waking thought. Nearly 50 million Americans define themselves as “caregivers” today. This is a massive area of need and opportunity currently being overlooked by many companies.
The point — at any given moment, your customers defining life stages will determine the messages they will tune into, the advice they need or the products they will buy.
The bottom line is this — with every “life change” comes an array of important “life choices”. It is critical to understand your customers’ “life changes” so you can be there to participate in their important “life choices”. These are “triggering events” and it is critical that you are prepared to engage clients at these life-choice moments.
Understanding how these scenarios define and influence your customer is essential to serving them as effectively, conscientiously, and profitably as possible. Don’t gloss over available data on your target market, but incorporate it into strategy and, where possible, conduct your own research into developing lifestage driven profiles of the customers you seek to reach.
Jo Cavender from the Speakers on Healthcare speakers bureau just sent a note and asked a question about “cost transparency” in health care.
Jo…Cost transparency is both a big topic and a core problem in HC. It is one I have a very strong personal POV on. I’ll briefly give you what I feel is the core message for patients/insureds and providers.
American consumers have almost no understanding of what “healthcare costs”. Unlike other major expenditure’s in their lives where they comparison shop to the dollar, (think auto, air ticket, appliances, hotels, rent, contractor bids, etc.), most consumers, until recently, never or rarely asked what a therapy, new drug, another test, 10 sessions with a PT, an extra night in the hospital, etc., will actually cost. Historically co-pays have been so low for the well-insured they haven’t asked and still don’t to this day. Providers? Well let’s just say they tend not to offer.
This has begun to change over the last number of years. Fewer consumers are “well-insured”. The biggest change has come from the millions of self-employed who now purchase high premium/high deductible individual insurance. They’ve had an awakening — all it takes is that first trip to an ER, that first question to your MD about “generic vs brand”, that first decision about whether to do the MRI or settle for the X-Ray, etc. — as they often pay the first $5k of cost, this consumer has started asking questions.
Healthcare providers are quite unprepared for it, but millions of the “new” consumers I refer to are going to be asking about prices, looking for second opinions, questioning care plans, insisting on the generics, etc. They are even looking for prices to compare procedures internationally (medical tourism). It is absolutely critical that this new consciousness regarding HC costs emerge from how we implement HC reform or we will have achieved very little. I think for millions of consumers who have been shielded from cost consciousness, this is about to change, they are about to “get smart” about HC shopping. All they have to do is ask their self-employed neighbor with individual insurance how it’s done.
Many think that better information on quality and cost (transparency) will be enough along with HSA’s, pay for performance, technology, etc. to motivate this consumer evolution– I think it will still require the act of pulling money out of their billfolds to bring about this change. Now if we can just get physicians and hospitals to join the parade….??? Bruce Clark
Some observers fear that the typical behaviors of retirees – in particular, selling out of stock market positions and relocating to warmer climes – spell trouble for the U.S. economy. But what went before is never an advisable measuring stick when it comes to the baby boomer generation, for whom there are no guarantees.
Now that the oldest baby boomers are on the verge of retirement, panic has erupted over the future of Social Security – and investment markets. In recent years, most retirees have sold out of stock shares and attempted to generate a flow of current income with low-risk bonds and certificates of deposit. There has also been a trend of downsizing homes, as retirees snap up smaller holdings in regions that are sunnier or, in some cases, closer to family. Some analysts and commentators have tended to assume these trends will continue apace as baby boomers become the retirees of tomorrow. So far they’ve been right as we witnesse a bear market accompanied by a near collapse of the housing market.
While this vision of the future is plausible enough, baby boomers have turned their entire collective existence into a kind of homage to the unpredictable and the unexpected. In other words, stock market and real estate investors would be wise to avoid premature judgements: the generation that drove the longest bull market in American history may not be ready to pull up stakes and assume the senior citizen mantle just yet. The fact is that baby boomers almost certainly will not retire as early as expected, or at least will hope not to.
A widespread lack of savings among members of this generation, in part a product of their lifestyle, also means boomers must work longer to enjoy the choices they have made and that to which they’ve become accustomed. It’s not just a matter of baby boomers living in luxury. A significant number have put off families until middle age; another hefty portion have had second families in recent years. This means many will still be putting kids through college at age 65, and therefore might not be ready for retirement at the usual age. And the standard retirement age, once 65, has increased.
Congress has raised the age at which full Social Security benefits are available: it is now 66 or 67, depending on the year in which one was born. Of course, how long full benefits will exist is now anyone’s guess. For the youngest boomers, only recently turned forty, assuming Uncle Sam will pick up the slack no longer makes sense.
On a brighter note, increased longevity means 65 is just not as “old” as it used to be. In the eyes of many, 80 might be old – but there’s no reason why a 65-year-old should slow down just because tradition dictates it. So, financial concerns and extended life spans mean many baby boomers will stay within the work force for longer than expected. On the other hand, a recent decline in average retirement age suggests some are moving in the other direction. Some boomers took early retirement packages amidst corporate downsizing crises; the job market had slowed, and getting out seemed the only option, whether they liked it or not.
Whether they retire early or late, however, the point is that baby boomers are likely to stagger their retirement over a much more protracted period of time than did earlier generations. Slotting boomers into an unsuitable mould will leave a lot of observers confounded.
Astonishing change is transforming health care as we know it — and it goes beyond healthcare reform.
Dr Bruce Clark joins with Health Strategies Group to offer corporate leaders and decision-makers tools for responding to this change.The population of the U.S. is rapidly aging and the impact of genomic medicine is growing significantly. These two trends, and their “tributaries”, will transform the future of health care as we know it. Insofar as healthcare is an industry, and healthcare providers must stay competitive — questions abound regarding the best means of preparing for these “disruptive” new scenarios.
Companies want to know how to keep their board members and executive team on the cutting edge with regard to transformative currents shaping the future of health care. To answer this dilemma, Initially developed for and presented at The Governance Institute, this half-day “executive briefing” features the nation’s leading authorities on genomics and aging and is now available for your organization’s board retreat or other executive strategy session.
The expert faculty of genomics and aging experts is led by Bruce Clark, D.P.H., co-founder of Age Wave and Impact Presentations Group. Considered one of the nation’s foremost authorities on the business implications of an aging society, Dr. Clark’s team is well equipped to educate company decision-makers on topics such as the new supply in genomics medicine and demands of the new mature consumer.As waves of discovery in biotechnology and genomics gain force, significant implications arise for all health care sectors. Genomics topics include: the convergence of genomics, robotics, and nanotechnologies; widening use of genomic drug interventions, reclassification of therapeutic modalities and the revolution taking place in testing and personalized medicine. Topics addressed in the “New Supply” module include: how reform will redefine the private health insurance model; the rise of an “ownership” society; the impact of the substantial expansion of services available; skewing of optimal and cost-effective assessments of health status; greatly activated consumers.
Through this discussion, attendees will receive a broad and detailed picture of biotechnology today and how it fits into the context of our health care system.That context also includes an increasing number of mature Americans – and, in particular, more mature Americans spending more on healthcare (including discretionary spending). The “New Demand” module will include: Generations of Medicine, a multi-media exploration of who we have been and who we’re becoming; explanations of four trends that will transform the future of healthcare and two trends changing the healthcare consumer; new research on the defining characteristics of the “new mature consumer”; health information technology and the older consumer; what the longevity revolution means for the concept of growing old; the use of consumer choice models and retail health markets; the task of healthcare decision-making in a multi-generational society, and ten crises health care leadership will face in post-reform America.
For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The baby boomers are reaching retirement age, meaning big changes ahead for US workplaces. A new survey by the Society for Human Resource Management points up key areas of potential difficulty.
The baby boomer generation begins turning 65 in 2011 – which means most boomer workers with retirement savings accounts will soon be eligible to withdraw their stores without penalty. The generation that’s powered the last few decades’ GDP and kept the workforce going strong will soon take its leave from the workplace. What will this mean for labor in the United States over the next several years?
Worries abound that the baby boomers’ retirement en masse may result either in worker shortages or increased rates of outsourcing abroad. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has attempted to present a reasonable and plausible forecast in its recent Future of the U.S. Labor Pool Survey Report.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall national workforce will grow by 12 percent by 2012. However, the percentage of workers aged 55 and older will increase by 49.3 percent. Many baby boomers may remain in the workforce to age 65 or beyond – but eventually, when they retire, HR professionals will be faced with the dilemma of replacing them.
According to some analyses, too many of those entering the workforce lack core competencies – a serious issue that will further complicate the staffing difficulties presented by boomers’ retiring. Many HR professionals in both the private and public sectors are slow to acknowledge a rocky road ahead. Only half of HR departments surveyed provide skills training for permanent staff on an ongoing basis or are researching how pay scales can be modified to remain competitive. This may be because only a quarter predict the flood of retiring boomers will be a problem to their organizations (though 43% say it has the potential to become a problem).
The SHRM’s survey found that almost no organizations questioned have plans to relocate; however, 17% have looked to fill jobs overseas, and another 17% intend to explore outsourcing possibilities in the near future. In part, this may be because of a perceived lack of skills in the domestic labor pool. About half of responding HR departments said they find new workers entering the workforce lack overall professionalism, written communication skills, analytical skills or business knowledge.
What can be done about these sobering concerns? The SHRM’s report uncovers a number of problem areas within the US labor force, and creative solutions will be integral to addressing fundamental obstacles before they become a crippling problem for business and industry. The retirement of the baby boomers is at a critical juncture for the US economy and the way it is handled by various sectors will go a long way towards determining the future of the nation’s competitive edge.