Why older health consumers are so different: marketing to ageing customers - over-the-counter therapies, alternative medicines. Future Pharma

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Futurist Keynote Speaker: Posts, Slides, Videos - Future Health, Pharmaceutical Industry Keynotes

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* Watch a brief video conference on health care for older customers (October 2012).  Dr Patrick Dixon is a physician and a Futurist, author of 16 books and advisor to many pharma companies.  Clients include GSK, Roche, Novartis, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Gillette, Johnson and Johnson, 3M, Avon, Siemens Medical, Phillips Diagnostics, BUPA, Coloplast, Genentech, Henry Schein, NHS and Smith and Nephew.

Over 1 billion people will be older than 60 within 10 years (2022).  Most people over 50 will be in Asia by 2050. 65% of all health spending is in those over 65.  Therefore most Pharma spending is to meet the needs of older people.

What kind of health care will they need?  What kind of health care will they or their relatives be willing to buy?  What kind of health products will they buy over the counter from pharmacies?  What kind of support will they be looking for at home?

Here are seven key issues:

1) Biological age v mental and emotional age

Make sure you know who you are marketing to and how they actually think and feel.  In developed and many emerging nations there is a huge generational difference between those who are 80 years old today and those who are 15 years younger.

People who are 65 years old today were late teenagers or early adults in the Swinging 60s, were brought up on the Beatles and “free love” in the West, but in China the same generation were young Red Guards swearing allegiance to the revolutionary leadership of Chairman Mao.

When older people look in the mirror they often say that they do not recognize themselves – they often feel 10-15 or even 20 years younger inside. 

2) Older consumer can move from one segment or group to another in 10 minutes

Take a 75 year old male ex-accountant who is fit, active, plays golf every day, and has a high disposable income.  Married to an equally active wife.  Maybe such a person fits neatly into a customer group that you are planning to market to.

Ten minutes later, one of them has a fall caused by a stroke.  Their lives are changed forever.  They are suddenly interested in a wide range of new products and services.  Make sure you are there when changes happen, and that you really understand what matters to the person today, right now.

3) Every older person is on a different life-journey

As people age, and become less active or independent (which can be a very gradual process), it is vital that your company continues on the journey with them.  

Too many strategies are based on targeting a particular group at a particular stage of life – when the greatest opportunities are to become part of someone’s life at maybe 70, and to become more significant to them as the years progress, with the right products and services at every stage.

4) The gap between independent and dependent living is a long sliding scale

The trend is for people to stay at home, rather then end in an institution, and many millions of older people need some kind of support to do so even thought they think of themselves as fully active – maybe cleaning once or twice a week for example. 

The more dependent they are, the greater needs they have, and the more that they (or their relatives) are willing to pay to maintain the best possible quality of life.

The sliding scale can move in both directions – as people recover from illness, operations or falls, or as other conditions become more significant.

5) Decisions about health care for older people are often driven by their children

Important to recognize that the older and more vulnerable people are, the more the decision-maker is likely to be a 50-60 year old child.

Be sure who you are communicating with, and why they are likely to make the decision to buy.

6) Performance enhancers – eg “Viagra for the brain”

Expect growth of sales to older consumers of performance enhancers, neutraceuticals, anti-ageing products of every kind (Lancome sells Genifique at $100 for 1.7 ounces).  20% of all US students are using pharma products to enhance their mental performance in exams.  This is a performance generation - and older people who wish to slow down the ageing process are also interested in performance.

7)  Home monitoring, diagnostics and support

Home monitoring and diagnostics are huge and growing markets.  Home diagnostics is linked to web-searching.  The fact is that many older patients know far more about their condition than their physicians, the latest research, treatment options, outcome measures, success rates in different surgical units or hospitals or clinics. Surveys show that most older people in America want to view test results before physician.  Expect further rapid growth in home testing eg cholesterol. 

At the same time, most people want to stay at home rather than in hospital, especially those with chronic, progressive conditions, and it is usually cheaper to do so. Treatment times are shorter, post-operative recovery in hospital is now often measured in days not weeks.  Minimally invasive surgery is rapidly becoming more common.

Over 2 million have wireless monitoring of their daily wellbeing at home in US and Europe eg heart monitoring.  This will be a $22bn market by 2015.

And then there is home care itself - whether an hour of cleaning a week, or 24 hour support from a live-in carer, or nurses.  Expect huge growth of ever-more sophisticated home care services, providing outstanding care to people who may have very high dependencey eg on ventilators.


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Thanks for promoting with Facebook LIKE or Tweet. Really interested to hear your views. Post below.

Reply to
Patrick Dixon
December 07, 2012 - 19:45

Thanks - it was a great event.

Join the Debate! What are your own views?


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