Boomers respond to DRTV

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Call it the Gray Tsunami, the Silver Tsunami or just plain Baby Boomers getting old. The first of more than 77 million Baby Boomers entering Medicare next year will lead to more changes in our ever-evolving healthcare system.The wealthy, health-conscious and tech savvy Boomer generation is most responsive to personalized information offered in a holistic manner than the generations before. Advertisers are quickly learning the importance of altering tactics to suit Boomers in order to reach this demographic in a direct and efficient way.

Healthcare expert Michael Howe wrote in the April 20 edition of Harvard Business Review that Baby Boomers “expect their healthcare system to be directive,” as in, “What do I need to do. Which meds should I take to get well?” Those needs are very different, according to Howe, than the Gen X attitude of “just show me how to treat it.” Boomers want more details, and proof that a product will solve their problem and benefit them. The strengths of direct response TV (DRTV) plays well into these expectations, allowing medical product suppliers and healthcare services to avoid slick branding and speak to Boomers in a direct language that they understand and trust.

TV is proven as a top platform for driving online sales of medical products and services towards seniors. Marketers expect Baby Boomers to follow suit. According to the CTAM Pulse report, Seniors have made the internet their primary purchasing platform, with 77% shopping online—the highest percentage among any generational group. Boomers, the first of whom will be entering the senior category this year, are right behind them at 71%. Both groups are turning to the web as their top resource for finding health and medical information, but TV is still the most influential screen when it comes to influencing a purchase. So DRTV and digital agencies are teaming up to herald in lead generation's third screen—performance-based TV. The rise of the internet has put traditional TV advertising on the defensive, but DRTV isn't resisting the trend. Why should it? DRTV has proven a top channel for leveraging the lead generation capabilities of the web with large-scale audiences—turning viewers into customers at record pace.

Boomers are no longer watching the traditional shows that seniors have watched in the past. Companies are often surprised to find the times of day that medical product customers watch TV, the networks they watch and even the shows they choose. They are most likely watching sports if they are men and reality shows if they are women.

Look at the recent healthcare debate in Washington and look at Howe's research about what aging Boomers want. In our ever-changing society, the Boomer generation is becoming more and more impatient and filling their days with more activities than ever before. These new customers will demand more detailed information “now,” and want access immediately, and use multiple outlets. No media provides that immediacy like DRTV. No media allows a company to have trained support personnel ready to service inquiries immediately like DRTV. Contact center preparation and expertise are an essential part of what customers want and expected from medical products and service companies. Traditional media leaves questions. DRTV answers them and gives the customer the opportunity to act immediately.

Ronald C. Pruett, Jr. is CEO of Mercury Media
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