How to Market to 65 Million Generation X Consumers to Win Their Business & Loyalty

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

Are you ignoring Generation X in your healthcare marketing strategy? You shouldn't be, and here's why:

Gen Xers have the highest rate of brand loyalty, period. They are partial to the brands they trust and are willing to pay a premium for their products and services. 

Not only that, the 65 million Gen Xers are now at the peak of their careers with more than $125 billion in purchasing power. A growing number need new primary care physicians (as they reach retirement age) and specialists (to meet their changing healthcare needs).

Unfortunately, many businesses lump Generation X in with nearby generations instead of directly marketing them. This is a giant swing and a miss for marketers in all industries because Gen X spends nearly one-third more annually than the celebrated Millennials. 

And, for the first time, this MTV generation is not only out-earning their Baby Boomer parents, but they're also outspending them by 18% in luxury goods and services.

Yes, I said outspending. 

What's more, they're the last group of post-war Americans who grew up without the convenience of online shopping and the first group to fully embrace the online shopping experience across multiple industries, including healthcare.

In this blog post, I share generational marketing tactics for the healthcare consumerism era to help you reach and gain a loyal Generation X audience for life. 

Who is Generation X?

Gen Xers were born between 1965 and 1980, putting them squarely in middle age (currently 42-57). They're often called the "lost" or "middle child" generation because they're a slightly smaller group of people (~65M) sandwiched between the two largest generations in recent history: Baby Boomers (~71M) and Millennials (~72M). 

In their youth, Xers experienced shifting societal values with increasing rates of divorce and working mothers. This led to a cynical and rebellious youth synonymous with their much-loved punk and grunge anthems. 

They were the first "latch key kids," which means they are the most unsupervised generation ever. They regularly returned to an empty home after school, which forced them to be independent at a very young age. They fed themselves, finished their homework, and filled the time until their parents came home. 

Today, Gen Xers have the means and time to invest in their surroundings, their appearance, as well as their changing healthcare needs. They're also the leading provider for their aging parents and Gen Y or Z children, making many financially responsible for up to three generations.

Have you upgraded your marketing strategy to meet the changing needs and expectations of the Gen X healthcare consumer, who are quickly becoming the dominant voice in healthcare?

What type of Healthcare Consumer is Gen X? 

Generation X is practical and cynical, yet flexible and hard-working. They're markedly independent, comfortable with technology, and take full advantage of online tools and resources to help them make informed healthcare decisions. 

72% of Gen X uses internet resources like Healthgrades, Vitals, Google My Business, and even Facebook to research doctors and physicians, particularly in these service lines:

  • Primary care
  • Obstetrics and gynecology
  • Sports medicine
  • Orthopedic care

As it turns out, Gen X consumers are also somewhat nostalgic, with approximately 75% of subscribers watching videos that relate to past events or people. 

Savvy marketers may consider including references to past events, commercials, or music in their traditional and digital marketing tactics to remind this generation of a time when they were younger and perhaps smelled like teen spirit.

Gen Xers Want their Perfect Blend of Traditional and Digital Marketing Channels

The cynical nature of Gen X shines through when faced with overt marketing tactics. Rather than being persuaded with big-spend advertising, they can't go for that (no can do) and prefer authenticity, transparency, and direct marketing that favors visual content and story-based advertising.

So, which channels do Gen Xers most commonly use? You might be surprised. 

Over 81% of Generation X has a Facebook account, of which 77% are active users. This makes Facebook an excellent social media channel for marketing goods and services to them. 

Gen X is also receptive to email marketing from the brands they know and trust and remains one of the most powerful marketing strategies. A solid mobile marketing strategy is also vital for marketing to Gen X because they spend more time per week on their devices than Millennials. 

However, don't let these facts and figures dissuade you from including traditional media in your Gen X marketing strategy. Why? More than 48% listen to the radio, 62% read newspapers, and 85% prefer traditional television over streaming. 

Now that we understand who Gen X is and what they’re looking for in terms of healthcare, let's look at how we can reach them through traditional and digital marketing channels.

7 Ways to Reach & Gain Your Gen X Audience for Life

Here are seven generational marketing tactics you can use to build a bigger, loyal Gen X customer base for life:

1.      Use a blend of modern and traditional marketing.

Develop a cross-channel marketing strategy that tells a similar brand story across print, television or radio, social, email, and content marketing channels. 

Don't be afraid to incorporate geo-targeted advertising to appeal to local audiences and enhance their personal experience with your brand. Try mixing print media and digital content by including your website address or a QR code that allows them to continue their brand experience on their smartphone, which is undoubtedly nearby.

2.      Find and nourish Gen X on the right social media platforms.

There are critical online channels to include in your marketing strategy that will help influence Gen Xers to purchase your goods or services. 

Facebook is Gen Xers' most popular social media site with over 40 million active users. If marketers want to encourage online engagement and conversions with this generation, they'll need to plan, develop, and execute a Facebook-specific marketing plan with their sensibilities in mind.

3.      Develop useful health resources they can use and share.

Useful, educational content that's easily digestible is a research-loving Gen Xers dream. Take time to invest in visually engaging educational content that is easily accessible and shareable. 

Here are three key features to include when creating educational content for Generation X:

    1. Highlight features and benefits
      Show how your healthcare facility, services, or treatments will make things simpler for them.
    2. Introduce your team
      Summarize the experience of your clinical team and physicians as well as the value of your services. 
    3. Use first-person communication
      Using words like "we" and "us" immediately tells Gen X, “we're never gonna give you up,” and “we'll be together forever.” Further, it personalizes your brand respectfully, which resonates best with this generation.

4.      Build a reputable brand they can trust.

Gen X likes to research businesses online, so ensuring your information is consistent across your website, social channels, and popular directories like Google, Bing, Vitals, and HealthGrades is a must. Not only will these tactics help build your business's authority in the eyes of search engines, but they will also help build credibility and trust with Generation X.

5.      Provide memberships and loyalty programs.

Gen Xers are extremely brand loyal, so designing a membership or loyalty program that meets their needs is a great way to gain a new customer base for life. Gen Xers want programs and membership perks that help make their lives easier. Here are four driving factors that may persuade them to purchase your goods or services:

    1. Time
      Gen X is busy, constantly looking for solutions that are easy to learn and offer significant time savings. Can they schedule appointments online during their lunch break?
    2. Value
      Gen Xers are results-oriented and want memberships and programs that offer easily measured and attained rewards. Do you have an app that rewards healthy lifestyle behaviors like getting yearly wellness exams, annual screenings, or a flu shot?
    3. Options
      Generation X values variety and the opportunity to choose. Develop a membership or program that provides multiple ways to earn (and spend) benefits. Can they spend their rewards in different places?
    4. Optimize
      Gen Xers may not have grown up with the internet, but they have certainly learned how to leverage it for success. Does your program or app allow easy access to their benefits from a desktop and smartphone?

6.      Communicate with Gen X via email

Gen Xers spend upwards of 30 hours on devices each week, and they tend to check their email regularly. If you want to reach them, you'll need highly visual emails highlighting your products or services. Gen Xers are very responsive to personalized content and relevant video content. Gen Xers love video, even if it killed the radio star, and tend to share them more than links or articles. Send appointment reminders, alert them of medical advancements that better support their chronic health condition, and include video testimonials of trusted doctors and like-minded patients via email to enhance trust and engagement.

7.      Build lifestyle nurture programs

This tactic is a great way to build and establish Generation X brand loyalty. Programs that keep track of and send critical preventive care reminders or appointment alerts are "Don't you forget about me" moments that the often-overlooked generation will appreciate more than any other. 

Conclusion: Healthcare Marketing to Generation X

With over 125 billion dollars in purchasing power and increasing responsibility for their aging family members, Generation X should be at the forefront of your marketing strategy, not just an afterthought. Not only are they in the market for new primary care providers as they reach retirement age, but they’re also looking for trustworthy, skilled specialists to meet the mounting healthcare needs of their aging parents.

It's time to meet the needs of this well-educated generation with direct, honest marketing that's visually appealing and consistent across all channels. You'll build a strong base of Gen X customers that will be loyal to your brand for life when you do.

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