Mobile's Role in Health Care Marketing – Parthenon Publishing

Mobile’s Role in Health Care Marketing

Marketers have typically considered the benefits of mobile marketing with a rather simple decision making framework:

  1. If you’re reaching a young demographic, go for it!
  2. If you’re catering to an older audience, don’t waste you’re time.

But research is increasingly supporting the fact that mobile marketing for healthcare may be another animal entirely. If you look at a Pew Mobile Health survey from 2010 that breaks down the demographic of mobile phone users who use their phone for health-related activities, you’ll find that 17% of all mobile users have looked up health and medical information on a mobile device. Yes, that number jumps to 29% if you only consider Millenials and GenXers between the ages of 18 and 29. But it’s interesting to note that 18% of people in the age group between 30 and 49 are also using their phone for health information, which is not as different from the young folks as conventional wisdom would indicate.

With the rise of multigenerational households, where Baby Boomers are often caught in a paradox of caring for themselves, their children and their aging parents, this 18% of 30 to 49 year olds actually supports a much larger percentage of Americans. As these caregivers are also often healthcare decision-makers within their households for the older and younger generations, they end up influencing healthcare choices for many more people than just themselves. And according to a 2012 AdAge Cross-Generational Healthcare Trend report, this age group is becoming less reliant on doctors for medical advice and turning instead to the Internet to research healthcare questions and influence their families’ decisions.

Thus, healthcare marketers can utilize mobile successfully for either age group. If both the Baby Boomers and GenXers/Millenials are consuming mobile healthcare information, who should you market to? The biggest challenge is tailoring your approach to the correct age group, but it should also be driven by the nature of your product or service.

 

If you provide information or products that benefit exercise, diet and nutrition…

GenXers & Millenials. According to a recent New York Times article exploring smartphones as health aids, 18-29 year olds are often monitoring their eating, drinking and exercise, and many of them are choosing to do so through on-the-go mobile platforms. Sometimes this involves tracking calories or logging reps at the gym, but they also use apps that provide healthy activity or event opportunities. If your company offers information, products or benefits in the exercise and nutrition realm, your marketing may benefit from an easy-to-use, easy-to-access mobile app.

 

If you offer chronic care information or services…

Baby Boomers. As caregivers for their parents, many baby boomers respond well to easy-to-use mobile health apps that provide information on care for patients with chronic conditions. If they can monitor and track information like medication adherence, blood pressure and glucose readings, they can be better caregivers for chronic issues.

 

If you provide disease information on symptoms, treatment and prevention…

GenXers & Millenials. The most popular symptom searches on Yahoo! Mobile include “early pregnancy,” “herpes” and “H.I.V.” In contrast, the most popular PC searches include “heart attacks,” “gout” and “shingles.” So, to positively embrace mobile marketing through a mobile site or information app, you need to focus on a younger demographic, looking for private (possibly embarrassing) information tailored to their age group.

 

If you offer a specific treatment, drug or solution…

Both. As the above-mentioned New York Times article states, close to 75% of mobile users have searched the Internet using a mobile device while in their own home. Thus, mobile searches often occur out of ease and convenience, not just necessity. Specifically, if someone is watching TV and sees a commercial for a treatment or drug, they may be spurred to immediately search for more information on the mobile device sitting next to them. A clear mobile site would then provide the information that person needed to commit.