Thursday, February 03, 2011

Another Reason Not to Ignore....

Those of us who were born before 1965.

We are the Boomers.

And we are helping our parents, Aunts & Uncles decide on how to spend their nest eggs and live comfortably.

More from Mediapost:

The Largest Target Market You've Never Thought About: How Brands Can Connect With Caregivers

There are 43 million Americans who care for elderly loved ones, according to a recent study from the National Alliance for Caregiving, AARP, and MetLife. These family caregivers, many of whom are "sandwich generation" moms busy juggling their own working and family lives, are responsible for making decisions about products and services for elderly family members. Compare this with 2 million brides and 4 million new mothers, and you can see that caregivers are a huge, and growing, market.

Research across the community found that 80% of family caregivers discuss treatment options with their loved ones' doctors, while 79% order or pick up prescriptions and 75% purchase personal care or grocery items for their loved ones. Furthermore, 71% of caregivers manage finances for their ailing relatives. This is a "twofer" audience, since these women are also consumers of products and services for their own care. As a brand marketer, how do you connect with this massive, influential, and unique audience?

The prototypical family caregiver, according to research, is a "Boomer" woman in her 50s who's caring for her parents. She juggles a job and the needs of her own family, often putting kids through college. She's under a lot of pressure and, according to 59% of respondents in a recent survey, her caregiving commitments constitute the greatest stress in her life.

Before creating a campaign targeted to the caregiver demographic, brands first need to understand this group on an individual level. Caregivers may not self-identify, but they're highly connected to a larger community of other people in the same position, often using social networks to share insights, stories, and concerns with one another. Caregivers want to connect with others, and they want compassion and understanding; your first step in creating campaigns that will resonate with this demographic is to try to understand their day-to-day experience.

It's important to tailor your marketing messages, product information, and promotional offers to caregivers' unique role as decision makers and purchasers for others. Here are four tips advertisers can use to ensure that their campaigns targeting caregivers hit the mark:

  • Associate your brand with a connection place. Caregivers appreciate connecting with one another for support and advice, so your brand should create, sponsor, or advertise on an online community or caregiver-focused website, where caregivers share and exchange insights.
  • Simplify your message. Caregivers' time is limited, so they'll be more likely to respond to concise messages that clearly communicate your offer or service. That said, it's okay to use "storytelling" in your campaigns, as caregivers appreciate hearing about the real-life experiences of other people in their shoes. One in-home care company changed the creative in a banner ad from a bulleted list of the service's benefits to the story of a visit to a grandmother's house -- and conversion increased by 400%.
  • Empower the caregiver. Boomers are natural authority questioners, and they take their role as advocates for their loved ones' medical or financial issues seriously. Your campaigns targeting caregivers should provide information and invite interaction. Allow caregivers to ask questions about your products or services online. If you want to impact the buying habits of caregivers, treat them as your brand advocates, engaging them with your message on a personal level and making it easy to share.
  • Choose function over fashion. Leave the flashy content, such as video, HTML 5, and flash, to your other campaigns. Caregivers want clear information to make critical purchase decisions; they aren't looking to be entertained by your ads. If you do use rich media, make it functional -- for example, provide online checklists, buying guides, or other interactive tools caregivers can use to narrow down the product field based on the unique needs of their loved ones. And don't forget about the simple things such as making offers and info sheets printable and portable so caregivers take your messages and share them with loved ones.

The 43 million Americans who care for elderly loved ones are making important purchase decisions every day. Is your brand reaching this massive purchasing force with relevant messages, promotions, and product positioning? If not, you're leaving millions in potential revenue on the table -- and missing out on connecting not just with the current caregiver demographic but with a massive generation of future older people -- the Boomers -- who themselves will need your products one day soon.

Andy Cohen is an experienced caregiver and CEO of Andy's 20-year career in marketing includes leadership positions at SC Johnson Wax, Peapod, and Intuit.

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