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Not Your Grandfather's Senior Citizen: Three Ways Marketing to Seniors Has Changed

For most Americans, the golden years mean something far different than it did for their parents. As a creative director of a graphic design agency that partners with Fortune 100 healthcare companies, I focus on the question: How do we now market in a way that is relevant to seniors who want to continue to live healthy and exciting lives?

Here are three ways I’ve seen marketing change as both culture and the industry has evolved.

1. A New Outlook on Seniors

Modern seniors are Internet-loving Baby Boomers who are very unlike their more traditional parents. They don’t see themselves as “old” and probably never will. Instead, they remain active, smart, and productive, long after exiting the workforce. Seniors have begun to look for ways to enjoy a healthier lifestyle in retirement. They engage in yoga, walking, and healthy eating---all activities their parents might not have considered. Marketers understand that they are speaking to a subculture proficient at sending e-mails, searching the Web, and using social media. I’ve seen and believe we will continue to see a change in Medicare-related marketing materials as they mirror people driven bycuriosity, energy, and a never-ending quest for good health.

2. A New Focus on Health-Related Products and Services

Because the average human lifespan now exceeds 78 years, the industry has had to respond with products associated with health and long-term care. As top agencies have begun to place a bigger emphasis on wellness as a way of life, the industry has stopped pushing what’s good for them and has started to promote what’s good for their clients. For example, many pharmaceutical companies have moved their focus away from drugs and toward disease education to help the aging population take the healthiest approach to their medicine. Healthcare companies are now providing wellness visits, online tools, and personal coaching and support to help clients take control of their personal well being.

3. Diversity of Creative Formats

There is a face-off emerging among healthcare marketers as they work to retain existing customers while continuing their pursuit of new business opportunities. While direct mail is still used to sell Medicare products to busy seniors, agencies are now seeking innovative forms of communication using new technology. We are beginning to see more concise marketing packages in the form of postcards, low-cost mailers, e-mail newsletters, and websites.

No matter what format marketers choose, reform needs to be navigated carefully and it requires a skilled approach to messaging and design. Inspiring copy and beautiful visuals are a necessary part of any successful campaign. As changes and concerns continue to emerge, staying on top of reform is essential.

We anticipate that the eminent change in the healthcare and Medicare landscape will create a massive opportunity for those of us who are designing and creating collateral in the health, wellness, pharmaceutical, and insurance space. The future is exciting and new---and marketers should prepare to make a big impact.