Generational Marketing in Healthcare: Making It Work for You

You’ve probably read countless business articles discussing how to appeal to “Baby Boomers,” “Generation X,” and “Millennials.”

Each label carries with its own stereotypes. Millennials are tech-savvy. Gen Xers hate conformity. Baby Boomers are individualistic. And so on.

Is tailoring your marketing based on these labels the best way to find customers in healthcare?

Keep reading to find out more about this approach as we run down the pros, cons, and other strategies you can use to make generational marketing even more effective.

What Is Generational Marketing?


Photo Credit hannahpirnie

Generational marketing
is a strategy where you market to a specific group of people based on their age, as well as other social, demographic, economic, and psychological factors.

Each generation typically covers a group of people born within 18 to 20 years of each other. There’s some disagreement about when certain generations end and the next ones begin. But there are around five living generations to think about:

  • The Silent Generation (born between 1925 and 1942)
  • Baby Boomers (born between 1943 and 1964)
  • Generation X (born between 1965 and 1979)
  • Generation Y/Millennials (born between 1980 and 1996)
  • Generation Z (born between 1997 and now)

Pros of Generational Marketing

  • It’s more nuanced than just targeting by age. Generational marketing gives marketers more to go on than an age group. By understanding the unique circumstances and culture that shaped how these people think (and behave) today, it’s easier to tailor your message to relate with them.
  • It’s cost-efficient. Marketing by generation lets you target a specific group instead of just “spraying and praying” your message everywhere and hoping for the best. It’s pretty straightforward to connect with publications, list owners, etc. who work with the generation you’re interested in. A few well-placed ad buys can bring in a lot of quality leads.
  • It gives you clues which media they interact with–and how. If you’re targeting the tail-end of the Silent Generation and early Baby Boomers, you probably wouldn’t want to blow your marketing budget on Instagram or Snapchat. Just like you wouldn’t want to buy expensive newspaper ads targeting Generation Z. Marketing by generation gives you insights into the types of media your target customers consume, and how they consume it (print, audio, online).

Cons of Generational Marketing

  • There are big differences within generations. Generation labels and years are arbitrary. Two people–one born in 1943 and the other in 1964–are both technically Baby Boomers, but their upbringings and the culture that shaped them were very different. So it can be tough to generalize with statements like “all Baby Boomers value individualism and self expression” when they might have more in common with other generations.
  • Some people dislike being labeled. Many of us flat out don’t like being labeled. Yes, we fall into a specific generation label. But each of us is a unique individual. You probably have dozens of things that set you apart from the stereotypes associated with your generation.
  • Potential missed opportunities. By focusing solely on one generation, you might miss out on potential customers from others who don’t get to see your message.
  • “Age is just a number.” People are reinventing the relationship they have with age. We’re starting new careers when we’re older, trying new things, and repeating and recycling phases of life. This quote from Entrepreneur Magazine sums it up well: “You can have two men who are 64 years old, and one is retired and driving around in a Winnebago, and the other is just remarried with a toddler in his house.”

Is There a Better Way?

Generational marketing can be a useful tool to refine your message and reach your most likely buyers.

But it isn’t without its disadvantages. Fortunately, there are ways you can tweak your generational marketing to make it even more effective and overcome those shortcomings.

Multi-Generational Marketing


Photo Credit: Christpoher Michel

When you’re selling something that appeals across a broad age range, a multi-generational marketing strategy helps you to reach the older, the younger, and everyone in between–while still making them feel unique.

The idea is to identify which generations your product appeals to, then develop separate marketing strategies to reach each one. It can be time-consuming, but it’s a great way to hone in on your customers and make them feel special no matter which generation they fall within.

Uniting under Shared Attitudes, Values, and Beliefs


Photo Credit: Jhong Dizon

An effective strategy–one that’s used in some of the most successful brands and ads of all time–is to stop focusing so much on generations and bring your company’s most-cherished values to center stage.

What is it about how your brand views the world that separates it from the competition? It could be core values, a philosophy, a special way of doing business. The idea is to craft your marketing strategy to attract people who share those beliefs.

Consider Apple and their motto “Think Different.” It attracts unconventional thinkers–creative rebels who challenge the status quo–regardless of their age or upbringing. Nike’s “Just Do It” draws go-getters who push their bodies to the limit and don’t make excuses. And take a look at this manifesto from fitbit, which emphasizes how every moment matters when it comes to fitness (something that can appeal to any age):


Your Turn

While generational marketing can offer valuable insights into the people most likely to become your customers, it isn’t the ultimate marketing solution.

In some situations, it might be the only tool you need to find the right people and target them effectively. A lot depends on what you’re trying to sell.

For everyone else, it’s better viewed as a jumping-off point in your quest to narrow the focus on your ideal customers even further.

Question your assumptions. Use survey data, feedback from the sales team, and one-on-one conversations with prospects to test whether your target customers fit the generational stereotypes.

Tailoring your messages to suit every generation you target, or better yet, building a brand based on shared world views, will help you overcome the downsides of typical generational segmentation and take your marketing to the next level.



View Our Services
Reach Out