|By: Cristina Alvarez|
Anyway, don’t they say that the fifties are the new thirties? I’m getting confused with all the numbers and decades. But what I do know is that in 2011, the oldest boomers will become 65 and enter the Medicare club.
We are not aging gracefully (although some would say it’s totally the opposite), utilizing our country's greatest brains to develop new forms of cosmetic surgeries, exercise mechanisms, skin preparations, and even miracle garments, to hide the inexorable action of gravity. I guess some can pull off the Botox and nips and tucks and look handsome. Well, you know how others look, rather like zombies in dire need of sleep.
But I’m digressing… baby boomers better fez up! Quickly. If not, you’ll be missing out on the enrollment window of three months prior and three months after your birthday, and pay a penalty for it. What’s more, you could actually be disqualified for the Medicare Supplement, horror of horrors!
If you’re a Supplement Medicare insurance company, think about the opportunity now. It has been researched, I swear, that older people rely more on intuition than rationality. That sounds irrational, right? For me, intuition is pent up rationality, waiting to jump out, but without an attitude. So if you are a marketer for this segment, employ images that promote strong positive emotional responses. Following that trend of thought, first impressions, which have a heavy emotional charge, are also more durable for older than younger adults. So be very careful and put your best foot forward.
First you engage them and then you throw information at them. They do want the information, but get them interested first. But oh please, don’t give them more than what they need. Remember, their clock is ticking away, so be respectful of their time. That doesn’t mean you’re going to give them choppy phrases or bulleted lines. Older adults process thoughts slower, so be clear, but to the point. If you can, make a little story of it, peppered with emotional cues. You can’t lose with a. information they need, b. to-the-point information, c. information that touches their soul in some form.
One thing that us mature audiences hate are absolutist statements about religion, politics, philosophy, companies, about almost everything. So make sure you present your information deferentially, in the “if you allow me to explain” mode. But… take advantage of our greater sensitivity to subtlety… go ahead, don’t be shy, throw in a metavalue about your services to make it more attractive… it’s allowed, and good marketing too. But put it within context and make it holistic. For older adults, it’s about the whole experience, because they’ve reached a point of synthesis in their lives.
Baby Boomers are turning 50 at a dizzying rate of 1 every 10 seconds. That's more than 12,000 each day and over 4 million a year for each year of the next decade. And for the health plan companies out there trying to cash in on this emerging target, 2011 will be a wild feast. By the way, analysts say that this increase in the number of Medicare enrollees is projected to contribute 2.9 percentage points to growth in Medicare spending by 2017. Not good for the government, and eventually, not good for the aging.
Typically, emerging markets consist of younger (or underdeveloped) people coming of age (or to quote an Evangelist, people “Seeing the Light!”) and beginning to consume a product that wasn’t available to them before for reason of price or maturity. In that sense, we can truly say that the Baby Boomers are babies that have finally grown up. Not grown old. Medicare will become the insurance for the boomers, not the insurance for those on their final trek. Some say the healthcare system is not prepared for their grand and copious entrance, that 36,000 geriatricians would need to be activated by 2030.
Who knows about those geriatricians? 65-year-olds ain’t no grandparents no way no more. They are mature, coming of age, sophisticated consumers. They do not feel antediluvian. In fact, they feel energized, ready for another round. Many boomers will work past their seventies, and at more than 100 million strong, this group and other customers born before 1965 will be - in fact are - the single most important consumer group in the U.S., in addition to being the wealthiest, best educated, and most sophisticated of purchasers. They’ve become the new customer majority.
By the way, new statistics just came out on life expectancy: a man currently age 65 can expect to live until age 83, and the average 65 year old woman until 85, according to the Social Security Administration. And why would they lie? For them it’s best that we all conk out sooner rather than later.