Healthcare for the Ages, Part II: Why It Still Makes Sense to Market to Baby Boomers

As noted in last week’s post, one key to long-term success for aesthetic practices is to engage Millennials, those 18–35 year olds who have not only become the largest demographic group in the U.S. but who are embracing cosmetic procedures like never before.

Then again, perhaps the only thing worse than ignoring Millennials is focusing on them to the exclusion of other age groups. Baby Boomers, for example, may have lost their standing as the nation’s dominant demographic but they still constitute a large and enthusiastic pool of potential patients for aesthetic practices. Here are four reasons why:

They accept getting older; they just don’t want to look it

As with every other life stage they’ve passed through, Boomers are putting their own stamp on their “golden years.” Raised in a period of great social change, they believe that challenging conventional wisdom is a good thing and that self-improvement is a worthy goal, whether it entails taking classes or getting a facelift. Seventy may not be the new 50 but for a generation that’s not built to grow old quietly, elective aesthetic procedures represent an acceptable tool in their efforts to look as young as they feel.

They know what they want

According to RealSelf research, 41% of women in the U.S. ages 55–64 would consider aesthetic options beyond the retail counter and almost one-half (19%) would consider seeing a plastic surgeon to accomplish their health and beauty goals. And millions of them follow through every year. In 2014, patients ages 51–64, accounted for more than 50% of all brow lifts, neck lifts and facelifts and one-third of all non-surgical procedures in the U.S., according to ASAPS. Older women are also opting for breast reductions and explants, notes the RealSelf Trends blog, often in response to bodily changes after menopause.

They have the wherewithal to pursue it

Having had their careers and emptied their nests, Boomers hold the purse strings to 70% of the nation’s disposable income and use it to spend $4.6 trillion a year on consumer goods and services. They also tend to be unburdened by student loans and car payments and, therefore, have the funds to pay for procedures their health insurance won’t cover.

They understand the evolutionary nature of healthcare

Once upon a time, there was no WebMD. People had primary care physicians who more or less dictated their healthcare interactions and, by extension, referred them to specialists for specific needs and conditions. For many Boomers, that’s still the case as they’re far more likely to have a PCP than their younger counterparts. Such referrals are indisputable votes of confidence, underscoring the importance that aesthetic specialists make the effort to facilitate them.

They’re more digitally connected than you might think

While it’s true that younger consumers are heavier users of technology, it’s a mistake to think of older ones as being tied to landlines and cable TV. In fact, 81% of American adults aged 50–64 now use the Internet, according to Pew Internet, and for many, it’s the top source for gathering information on topics of interest, outpacing TV and print media by substantial margins. As with other demographic groups, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of being present on the platforms where they congregate.

Doctor Takeaway

For aesthetic practices, Baby Boomers can provide a big boost to the bottom line

While marketers are all abuzz over Millennials (and rightfully so given their impact on the world at large), Baby Boomers still represent an important demographic for aesthetic practices. From their desire to look young to their ample disposable incomes, they’re not only willing to pursue cosmetic surgery, they have the funds to do so. At the same time, they’re smart shoppers; they know what they want, and they’re far more likely to patronize practices that understand them and treat them with the respect they’ve come to expect.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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