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BOSTON: Pharmaceutical brands are typically failing to engage the valuable audience of consumers over 50 years old, according to research by AARP, an interest group focused on this demographic.
Mark Bradbury, senior director, insights/marketing at AARP, discussed this subject during a session at the 2018 DTC National Conference.
“It’s not that what you’re doing is bad, exactly … But it could probably be a lot better, based on what I know about how your consumers perceive what you do,” he told an audience of pharma marketers. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Why pharma brands must get to know the 50-plus audience.)
His observations drew on an AARP study entitled “Breaking Bad – Adults 50-plus: Understanding the demo that drives your business” – a reference not to the popular TV show, but an old Southern expression that means to challenge convention.
One of the conventions challenged by the analysis concerns the use of digital media by this audience. While they are often assumed to be online refuseniks, AARP found that many older consumers are extremely heavy users of this channel.
Similarly, Bradbury suggested that the temptation to treat the over-50s market as a homogeneous mass was a common mistake for pharma brands.
A useful starting point, he argued, is to segment three groups: the 50-59 year-old cohort, the 60-69 year-old group, and people above that age.
“Each segment is vastly different from the others,” said Bradbury. “If you don’t know how to market to each of the individual segments properly, you’re not going to be able to engage them.”
Understanding each group will require leveraging a wide slate of datapoints, ranging from medication and insurance usage information to details of their media consumption, attitudinal preferences, biometrics and self-care behaviours.
“There’s so much difference that they could be three distinct populations,” said Bradbury.
While the majority of prescriptions will be used by people of 70 years old or more in ten years’ time, he added, the other segments will remain highly valuable, too.
“[That] doesn’t mean you shouldn’t market to the 50-plus and 60-plus age group. Just recognize that it’s the 70-plus segment that could be a tremendous growth opportunity for pharma,” Bradbury said.