Online Seniors A Growing Target for Healthcare, Pharma Marketers

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Seniors are a natural target for pharmaceutical and healthcare marketers but so far have formed a relatively small part of the online audience for health information.

According to October 2009 data from Mediamark Research & Intelligence, seniors ages 65 and older were the least likely of any age group other than 18- to 24-year-olds to seek medical info online. However, older boomers (ages 55 to 64) were the most likely to do so. This means that in the coming years, as that group ages, online health info seeking among seniors should rise rapidly.  Thus, now is the time for marketers to sow their seeds online.

A focus on seniors means a focus on the needs and desires of a group more likely to be living with a chronic medical condition as well as taking medication, which must translate into helpful advertising. Asked what they found most useful in healthcare ads, About​.com users 55 and older cared more than adults in general about drug side effects and safety, in addition to information about diseases and how to cope with them.

Overall, all adults said humorous ads got their attention the most, with seniors appreciating them slightly more. Visually appealing and colorful ads were also important, and older respondents were significantly less likely to care about interactivity than younger web users.

Seniors were also less likely to have faith in information about health found on social media, according to a survey by Capstrat and Public Policy Polling. Respondents over 65 did not consider information on online forums reliable, suggesting healthcare and pharma marketers will have to use more traditional, authoritative forms of online marketing to reach this group.

Trustworthiness is already a major concern for the industry. Pharmaceutical industry advertisements were the second least trustworthy, behind financial services, according to adults surveyed in December 2009 by Adweek Media and Harris Poll.

[Source:  "Marketing to Seniors with Online Health Information."  eMarketer.  16 Dec. 2010.  Web.  17 Dec. 2010.]