Healthcare and Gen X: 4 Things Marketers Need to Get Right

When it comes to healthcare marketing, Generation X once again gets the short end of the attention stick.

Overshadowed by boomers—a prime target for healthcare advertising dollars as they age and require more care—and Millennials—the holy grail audience for the emerging health-tech industry—Gen X’s unique healthcare needs and position often leave its members underserved and mostly ignored.

This oversight is a massive missed opportunity for healthcare marketers. First off, Gen X is at the height of its spending potential. Its U.S. population of 65 million has saved a collective $13 trillion and owns 29% of the nation’s household wealth (versus just 6.4% owned by millennials).

It’s also the sandwich generation, which means Gen Xers make healthcare decisions for their aging boomer parents and their millennial children in addition to themselves. Gaining the attention and loyalty of just one Gen X consumer can grant healthcare marketers a fast-track audience with all of their family members.

Just like its neighboring generations, Gen X has unique perspectives and needs that marketers must know. Here are four ways that healthcare marketers can better connect with their Gen X consumers:

  1. Make it branded 

Gen X was the first real healthcare consumer, coming into purchasing power after the patient rights movement of the 1970s and the healthcare consumer rights movement of the 1990s. It also witnessed the rise of pharmaceutical ads targeted directly to consumers, which began as early as the ’80s and exploded full force in the late ’90s. As with other buying experiences, Gen X is accustomed to shopping around for its healthcare.

Gen X’s comparison for the self-determined selection of healthcare experiences makes investing in a brand critically important for healthcare businesses. Companies need to invest in a strong brand that stands out from competitors and creates a connection with the Gen X consumer. Ensuring a consistent, clear narrative across all points of the consumer journey demands a brand that is well-equipped to carry its message.

  1. Make it trustworthy 

Gen Xers’ mistrust of establishments makes them particularly skeptical when examining healthcare claims. Their generation grew up when the institutions of family, religion and government support were continuously weakened, and their experiences with first the AIDS crisis and then the opioid crisis further diminished trust of healthcare institutions in particular.

Present Gen Xers with facts over feelings, and include plenty of information from multiple sources to back up claims. Marketers would also do well to invest in review collections from satisfied customers, as Gen Xers often seek outside affirmation.

Marketers can also succeed with Gen X by investing in personalization. Gen Xers value personal connection—although they distrust medical establishments, they’re generally trusting of their individual providers. Creating that same personalized, valued connection with the Gen X consumer is critical to gaining their trust, attention and loyalty.

  1. Make it fast

Gen Xers are in the stage of life where they’re busy raising families and taking care of their parents, juggling multiple schedules and responsibilities day in and out. It’s no surprise that they want an experience that is convenient and straightforward. For example, they buy products from online retailers and prefer email marketing with promotional content that gets straight to the point.

Marketers can satisfy Gen X’s need for speed by investing in convenient onboarding experiences and focused marketing materials. Quick, forceful points of differentiation and promises of an uncomplicated transaction will go a long way with Gen X consumers.

  1. Make it everywhere 

Gen Xers grew up without the internet but they’re internet savvy, and 76% of Gen X uses social media. But that doesn’t mean advertisers should neglect traditional media—over 80% watch television and digital media each month, 97% listen to the radio each month, and 33% listen to podcasts at least once a week. And unlike millennials, who want ease and instant gratification, Gen Xers are much more likely to crowdsource reviews and compare notes before making a purchase decision.

This conflation of platforms means that marketers must invest in an omnichannel experience to stay in front of their Gen X consumers every decision point of the way.

The payoff

Gen Xers’ distinct traits require a tailored approach to marketing that accounts for their particular time of life and background. But the special attention can pay off—a good experience for a Gen X customer could mean triple the customers, with Gen Xers persuading and enrolling their parents and children to enroll. And unlike baby boomers, who tend to stick with one provider, Gen Xers will switch if they have a bad experience, meaning that even if their current healthcare needs are being met, savvy healthcare marketers have plenty of opportunity to convert.

Gen X might be smaller in population size and wealth, but its purchasing influence in healthcare makes it a powerful healthcare target.

Photo: JamesBrey, Getty Images