Growing up in the 1950s was different than growing up in the 1980s. Gen Xers tend to embrace individuality and are comfortable with technology, using it to communicate and take in new information. Baby boomers, on the other hand, often appreciate letter writing and embrace a strong sense of community. The aesthetic industry is now a multi-generational market, encompassing everyone from the 20-year-old interested in breast enhancement to the 70-year-old seeking a facelift. The challenge for practitioners is in creating a practice environment and marketing plan that speaks to a wide range of age groups.
As you will learn on the following pages, each generation has its own characteristics, belief systems and life experiences that affect the way its members behave, take in information and make decisions. In order to market effectively to a specific generation, you must find a way to grab its attention by using messages that resonate with its members in the format they most gravitate to and in the manner they most appreciate.
There are four generations of patients now seeking cosmetic procedures:
1. Traditionalists (born 1922-1945) ages 65+
2. Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) ages 47 – 64
3. Generation X (born 1965-1980) ages 30 – 46
4. Generation Y/Millennials (born 1981-2000) under 30 years old
Traditionalists (65+ years old)
The good news is that this population of seniors is fighting aging more than any previous generation. They are coming to terms with getting older, but they do not want to look and feel “old.” They are interested in quality of life and information on how to live longer and stronger.
Patients of this generation have a traditional mindset when it comes to purchasing services. They value personal business-customer relationships. A traditionalist would be more likely to drive a long distance to see someone they know than to check out the newest competitor in town. They are also ready and willing to sing your praises to others.
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Traditionalists want to spend quality time with their physicians and create a bond so they can feel cared for by someone who truly has their best interests at heart. Let these patients know that they always come first and they are your top priority. Be sure to mention that you welcome their friends and family and will take good care of them.
To retain these patients, stay in touch with them through interesting communications filled with information and details—the more, the better. Talk about quality of life and how to get the most out of life.
Traditionalists respond best to personalized messaging and word-of-mouth marketing. Send them letters addressed to them by name. Talk about their interests and invite them in to talk with you one-on-one. Give them your business cards so they can pass them out to their friends and family.
Baby Boomers (47 - 64 years old)
Out of the four generations, baby boomers have the most money to spend, and they are willing to put money, time and effort into looking and feeling their best. They tend to see themselves as 10 to 15 years younger than they are and are willing to go to some length to stave off looking and feeling old.
Baby boomers are more likely than their children to stay loyal to a business, but they do expect respect, personalized service and convenience. Trust is crucial to this group, so they tend to rely on their friends’ recommendations first and then comparison shop before making a decision. They are looking for value and worth for their hard-earned money. More and more baby boomers have turned to the Internet for information on providers as they get more comfortable with technology.
Since they value trust, the more face time you can offer these patients, the more likely they are to choose you over your competitors. Invite them to your open house events, ask for their opinion in surveys and send them personalized communications filled with information about procedures—including testimonials—and special promotions that have their particular interests in mind.
Generation X (30 - 46 years old)
Gen Xers are considered the cynical but savvy generation. They were the first generation to grow up immersed in computer technology. This generation is the busiest of the four, because its members are focused equally on family and career. People of this generation don’t have time to compare prices and services. Gen Xers are naturally skeptical, because they grew up in a time of political and social change and widespread cynicism and distrust of institutions. That means you have to work hard at earning their trust.
Gen Xers use several direct channels to research what they want, but their approach is not to instantly buy. It is more about gathering information that helps them understand what is going on in a marketplace before they make a decision. They want to contrast and compare as many sources as possible to arrive at the right final decision. They do not take direct marketing at face value.
Marketing resistance is at an all-time high with this group. Gen Xers are among the most aggressive at rejecting intrusive marketing, and they have the knowledge, sophistication and willingness to disconnect themselves from marketers when they feel attacked by unwanted solicitation. To get this group’s attention, you have to work hard to earn its trust. You do that through great service and time-saving conveniences.
Generation Y, the Millenials
Also known as the “connected kids,” Generation Y is the generation of e-everything. Its members are confident, self-reliant, optimistic and empowered by their command of digital technologies. They are materialistic and exist to consume.
A major drawback to this group is their lack of brand loyalty. They often see aesthetic rejuvenation as a commodity because they can’t “see” the difference between service providers.
Reaching them requires working off of other aspects of Generation Y: their need for memorable experiences and community.
Experiences are a selling point for this age group, so emphasize how your services can be shared with their friends. Messages should create a sense of happiness, optimism and fun.
It would be rare to find a person from this generation who doesn’t own a cell phone. To market to Generation Y effectively, you need to promote your practice on social media platforms, like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
This group doesn't rely on email as much as Baby Boomers or Generation X, except to collect coupons and other deals. They would rather communicate using social media platforms such as Facebook or via text message.
Thus, you are better off using short messages about a deal you have then spending a lot of time informing them about your credentials and the clinical aspects of the procedure. They also respond well to pay-later options or monthly payment plans.
Crossing Generations Through Technology
The ubiquitousness of technology has required all generations to “plug in.” Grandparents talk to their grandchildren via Skype, while many baby boomers have resigned themselves to the fact that the best way to communicate with their children is via text. Therefore a multi-dimensional marketing approach combining print, email, social media and even text can garner the greatest audience. But going one step further and identifying key age groups for your procedures, then crafting specific marketing messages to that generations’ unique characteristics can give you an edge in increased bookings and word of mouth exposure.
Catherine Maley, MBA is the founder of Cosmetic Image Marketing and the author of Your Aesthetic Practice: What Your Patients Are Saying. Contact her at CosmeticImageMarketing.com, 877.339.8833.