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Low-key Generation Xers—sandwiched between the “forever young” baby boomers and the “me-generation” millennials—are quietly crossing the threshold of middle age. Though many healthcare marketers have overlooked this generation because of its relatively small size, Gen Xers are a powerful and unique consumer group. They will be even more important to healthcare marketers as they grow older, according to a new eMarketer report, “Healthcare Marketing to Generation X: Helping the ‘Self-Reliant’ Find Something to Depend Upon.”
Gen Xers show hybrid online-offline media behaviors when evaluating health-related sources. Particular online favorites include search engines, medical information sites, rating and review sites, blogs, social networks, display ads, email, digital video outlets and other online communities and support forums. Offline, they look to their healthcare providers, TV, print media and direct mail.
Members of this generation are prolific and thorough searchers, turning first to Google and other search engines for all types of health and medical inquiries. They also read and write blogs and seek ratings and reviews for products and services information.
In a February 2014 study, Catalyst Healthcare Research found that 79% of Gen Xers used the internet to find information about medical conditions or drugs. These numbers were much higher because this study asked about behavior in the two years prior to the study. Gen X’s use outpaced Gen Y’s, likely because fewer members of the healthier, younger generation were seeking this type of medical information. Gen X overindexed the total population in its use of the internet to find information about doctors and in visits to websites to request prescription refills.
Many in this generation also have used the internet to try to diagnose themselves or others in their care. A July 2014 study by Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) found that 60% of US consumers ages 35 to 49 used medical or health-related websites to research symptoms.
Key to connecting with these on-the-go, multitasking Gen Xers is seamlessly reaching them across the media they use. Studies have shown that Gen X responds to broadcast, print, email, phone, text messaging, digital video, online chat, social media and direct-mail appeals, especially those that drive attention to complementary digital assets.
The bottom line in all of this is that marketers must go beyond multichannel—to omnichannel—to reach Xers.
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