Marketing to Real Life Frasiers & Mirandas

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Marketing to Boomers

Marketing to Real Life Frasiers & Mirandas

Lori Laurent Smith and David Lockwood, both of Campbell-Ewald Health, discuss why the time is ripe for the healthcare community to support the growing population of boomer caregivers. Pharma marketers need to connect with each boomer on a personal level and let caregivers know they are there to lend support. Lori Laurent Smith David Lockwood Lori Laurent Smith, Senior VP, and David Lockwood, Senior VP, of Campbell-Ewald Health, discuss why the time is ripe for the healthcare community to support the growing population of “real life” Frasiers and Mirandas. There are now 13 million baby boomers who actively care for parents suffering from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, depression/social anxiety, or arthritis, according to a recent survey by Campbell-Ewald Health that explores how boomer caregivers and their ailing parents interact. And this number is expected to grow steadily over the next decade as the youngest boomers reach the age of 50 and their parents age into their 70s and 80s. For years, pharmaceutical companies have recognized the importance of reaching out to the elderly — a group that accounts for at least 36% of total U.S. healthcare spending, or about $700 billion a year. According to the survey findings, boomer caregivers overall are regularly and deeply involved in their parents’ care and, as a result, wield great influence over their parents’ healthcare decisions to the tune of $100 billion a year. (Note: These figures are based on analysis done by Campbell-Ewald Health and extrapolated from The Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services’ 2005 healthcare spending estimate of $1.9 trillion.) While such deep involvement can be rewarding, it can also take an emotional toll. Who can forget the complicated, albeit heartwarming, relationship between America’s favorite fictional psychiatrist, Dr. Frasier Crane, and his ailing father, Martin? Or Sex and the City’s hard-driving attorney, Miranda Hobbs, who had to juggle a marriage, a young child, and a career, all while helping her husband care for his mother, who suffered the debilitating effects of a stroke? America got a first-hand look into this segment of the boomer caregiver population through Frasier and through Miranda, who opened her home — and eventually her heart — to her cantankerous mother-in-law. While Frasier and Miranda entertained us, they also shed much-needed light on the boomer caregiver experience. WHO IS TODAY’S BOOMER CAREGIVER? According to Lori Laurent Smith, senior VP of Campbell-Ewald Health, an easy mistake is for pharmaceutical marketers to pigeonhole boomer caregivers into one category; but no two boomer caregivers are alike. Take Lindsay, a boomer who moved from California to Michigan to care for his ill parents. Even though his father has since passed away and his mother is now in a nursing home, Lindsay says it is difficult for him to let go of the day-to-day concerns over his mother’s care and get on with his life. Or consider Tony, who travels several hours a week to visit his rapidly deteriorating mother in a nursing home and to check on his father who lives nearby. He recently moved his office closer to his home to lessen his overall commute, but all the travel and the responsibilities of being a primary caregiver have weighed heavy on Tony’s shoulders. Nothing for Tony seems “normal” right now. He and his wife can’t even plan a vacation without considering how quickly they can get to the nursing home in case of an emergency. Tony says he walks around “numb and in a fog.” “For every Lindsay and Tony, there are millions of other boomer caregivers, both women and men, with their own stories to tell,” Ms. Smith says. “For pharma marketers, the message is to connect with each boomer on a personal level and let caregivers know that you understand what they are going through and that you are there to lend support.” COMMUNICATING WITH THE BOOMER CAREGIVER A recent ad campaign launching the new Medicare prescription drug plan shows boomer-aged children working with their elderly parents to understand the new plan and to identify what coverage is right for their parents. In another campaign for Pfizer’s Alzheimer’s drug, Aricept, a key target is the boomer-aged caregiver of a parent who might be afflicted. According to David Lockwood, senior VP at Campbell-Ewald Health, these examples are steps in the right direction for communicating with the boomer caregiver, but the vast majority of messaging by pharmaceutical marketers does not quench the thirst of boomers who are craving information tailored to their needs. “With more knowledge of this population comes even greater opportunity,” he says. “The key is to get a clear picture of the enormity of the boomer’s role and the all-encompassing responsibilities that come with it.” He says more than half of boomers surveyed (56%) report that they provide weekly assistance, with 34% assisting their parents a few times a week, and another 25% saying they play a caregiving role in their parents’ lives every single day. The parents surveyed by Campbell-Ewald Health suffered from one of the following highly prevalent disease states: arthritis, cardiovascular disease (CVD), depression/social anxiety disorder, or diabetes/obesity. Additionally, Ms. Smith and Mr. Lockwood say it’s important for healthcare marketers to recognize and tap into the influence these committed caregivers exercise over their parents’ healthcare and the choices their parents ultimately make (see related chart on next page). TAKE A WALK IN ERICA’S SHOES Before the pharmaceutical industry develops a dialogue with boomer caregivers and offers relevant support, Mr. Lockwood suggests that companies take a walk in those caregivers’ shoes. For example, marketers need to know what their daily routine looks like, as well as their frustrations and rewards. Take Erica, a 49 year-old woman whose mother has lived with her for the past 10 years since the death of Erica’s father. Erica’s mother is 77, and her health issues include diabetes and obesity. Erica helps her mother with daily insulin injections and monitors her sugar level, medication schedules, and diet. She also sets up and drives her mother to her doctor’s appointments and lab visits. Erica has a full-time job, earning $50,000 annually, which may be at risk if her mother’s health continues to deteriorate and requires more time from Erica or an additional professional caregiver that her insurance would not cover. Erica does not have time for a family or social life, a frequent problem among boomer-aged caregivers. “How might a pharmaceutical marketer of a diabetes medication talk with Erica and help this boomer caregiver take better care of her mom and herself,” Mr. Lockwood asks. He suggests some ways that marketers can build a relationship through dialogue, not just transactional communication with caregivers. These include: • Providing a Website or microsite just for caregivers with easy-to-understand language directed toward the nonprofessional caregiver. Marketers should consider tailored content generated from relevant questionnaires. Webinars, online seminars with physicians and other health professionals can support caregivers and include real-life examples. Host social networking communities that caregivers might connect online. Also, create podcasts of 10 minutes to 15 minutes that appeal to boomer caregivers. • Developing a goodie bag for boomer-aged caregivers available at the doctor’s office. Contents in the bag can be cross-sold to other brands in the company, or leverage ad agencies to assess whether their other clients would be interested in marketing directly to boomers. Themes could include well-being to help the caregiver stay well, relaxed, and nourished. For example, these bags could include bath product samples, vitamins, nutrition supplement beverages, beauty treatment samples, etc. Another theme could be “new to caregiving,” which offers support to the first-time caregiver and includes a custom-published pamphlet, an organizer to keep appointments for the parent, local hospital information, etc. These programs can be further drilled down to address specific conditions through programs such as “helping a cardiac patient” or any other specific disease — diabetes, cancer, arthritis — with tailored new product samples, coupons for specific prescription or medical-device trials, samples of antibacterial soaps and lotions, and so on. • Creating copromotions with healthy-living products and services that provide, for instance, four free issues of a health-oriented magazine or a discount to a national gym chain. • Sending out a monthly newsletter with a check discounting prescriptions appropriate to the parent as patient, and tailor the copy toward the boomer-aged caregiver. A newsletter also could offer cross-promotional opportunities for other product managers who would like to open a dialogue with boomer caregivers. • Hosting events at hospitals and sponsoring seminars for caregivers and patients. These can help caregivers improve their skills or bridge the communication gap with their parents. Finally, Mr. Lockwood says walking in their shoes means recognizing that caregiving is a double-edged sword for the boomer children. According to survey results, on the whole, caregivers feel appreciated (53%), loving (44%), and responsible (51%) in their role; yet caregiving can also wreck havoc on a boomer from an emotional standpoint causing feelings of frustration (41%), being overwhelmed (37%), and guilt (25%). “These complex emotional dynamics are having a direct impact on the caregivers’ day-to-day lives,” Mr. Lockwood says. “In fact, 47% of the boomer caregivers who responded to the study indicated they are most worried about the impact of caregiving on their own emotional well-being, and 36% are worried about the impact on personal relationships. Acknowledging this dichotomy, empathizing with the responsibilities they bear, and providing support to help them manage their lives and their parents as patients are great first steps for pharmaceutical marketers.” In the Campbell-Ewald Health study, according to Ms. Smith, a surprising 25% of the boomer children who participated and who provide care to their sick parents also cohabitate with them. “For this largely untapped segment of the boomer caregiver population, the challenges and the rewards are even greater,” she says. “Marketers have an enormous opportunity here to make a difference in their lives.” “This invisible segment of the boomer caregiver population should be on the radar screens of pharma and healthcare marketers alike,” Ms. Smith says. REACH OUT OFTEN AND DIRECTLY According to Ms. Smith, boomers overall tend to visit a variety of health-related Websites to learn about diagnosis and treatment options for their parents. She says a few digital tactics can be used to support brand initiatives on frequently visited Websites, including: • Sponsoring bulletin boards and chat rooms around a disease topic or propose one on a known caregiving Website or health information site. • Providing podcast content on a wide variety of topics, ranging from experts discussing the latest research in disease management to organization tips for time-pressed boomers. • Sending out relevant information on a monthly basis as a caregiving column within the site’s e-newsletter with copy targeted toward the boomer looking after a parent. • Hosting interactive Webinars led by experts for boomers who are coping with the demands of caregiving. • Providing a link to an avatar (an online human-like host/healthcare specialist), who guides visitors through frequently asked questions that boomers may have about caregiving. EMBRACE A RESPECT MARKETING PHILOSOPHY One hallmark about the boomer generation is its activism; when boomers feel slighted, they speak loudly and eloquently; and when they are passionate about a subject, they often open a national debate. Topics that were once taboo — such as quality childcare, breast cancer awareness, and menopause, to name a few — are routinely brought out of the closet by this vocal group. Marketers need to realize it is only a matter of time before they demand change and support in their role as caregivers as well. “It is best to adopt a respect marketing philosophy, which puts the audience — not the marketer — first,” Mr. Lockwood says. “When Campbell-Ewald, our parent company, validated its respect marketing philosophy with some of the world’s largest brands, the results showed that respect was found to be a significant driver of loyalty.” Mr. Lockwood says it’s important to incorporate these five people principles into marketing to caregivers: • Appreciate Me. Recognize and reward the important, influential role boomer children are playing in the active caregiving of their parents. • Intentions Don’t Matter; Actions Do. Stop talking about developing marketing to caregivers and implement a campaign. Select a brand, write a brief, and start testing. • Listen … Then You’ll Know What I Said. Feedback is important. Boomers want to know that their voices are being heard in a meaningful way. Provide online or direct-mail mechanisms to collect feedback, and organize a process to hardwire the voice of these caregivers (and their parents) into your organization. • It’s About Me, Not About You. Consumers want information customized to their needs. As caregivers, boomers want to know specific information that is different from what their parents as patients or their doctors as health professionals might be looking for from a brand. Give it to them. • Admit it. You Goofed. If you make a mistake, admit it quickly and move on to build a dialogue with caregivers. Every problem is an opportunity to develop a relationship and build long-term trust and positive brand recognition with this critical boomer audience. No Magic Bullet Boomers are stepping up to do what’s best for their sick parents. But it’s impacting the already stressed lives of this market. “Heed this advice: as a vocal and resourceful population, they won’t settle for this for long,” Ms. Smith says. “For pharmaceutical marketers, now is your chance to step out of the gate and support this hugely influential population in new and creative ways — particularly online, but also through traditional media and by building a two-way dialogue.” Mr. Lockwood says it’s important for marketers to act now. “Movers and innovators will start the dialogue and achieve the highest payoff as boomers themselves begin to age and look to trusted sources for information, products, and services,” he says. “And, according to the study, boomer caregivers were more likely than the general population to be diagnosed with the same condition as their parents. Therefore, building relationships with caregivers in the near term will pay dividends in the future as boomers age.” Lori Laurent Smith is Senior VP and David Lockwood is Senior VP of Campbell-Ewald Health, a communications agency specializing in connecting the healthcare industry with American consumers. For more information, visit PharmaVOICE welcomes comments about this article. E-mail us at For pharma marketers, the message is to connect with each boomer on a personal level and let caregivers know that you understand what they are going through and that you are there to lend support. For years, pharmaceutical companies have recognized the importance of reaching out to the elderly — a group that the U.S. Census Bureau says accounts for at least 36% of total U.S. healthcare spending, or about $700 billion a year. But clearly there is a critical need — and an enormous opportunity — for the industry to shift some of the attention to this audience’s boomer children as caregivers. Boomer Influence Boomer very involved in treatment plan decision 64% Boomer prompted parent to discuss symptoms 56% Boomer called to make appointment 38% Parent complained to boomer of symptoms 26% Boomer first notices parent’s symptoms 21% Nearly one of every two of these boomers report that they provide specific prescription medicine assistance, as follows: Some Rx med-related difficulty (net) 48% Forgot to take med 33% Ran out of med 25% Incorrect dosing 11% Lost med 6% Source: Campbell-Ewald Health Boomer/Parents Caregiver Survey, Campbell-Ewald Health, Warren, Mich. For more information, visit Boomers Who Live With Their Ailing Parents Are More Likely to … Boomers Who Live With Their Ailing Parents More Actively Assist With All Aspects of Their Parents’ Care Than Those Who Do Not Living Not Living With Parent With Parent Doctor Visits 85% 61% Pharmacy Visits 80% 37% Assist Parent at Least Once a Week 72% 38% Appointment Scheduling 69% 41% Lab Visits 65% 26% Remind to Take Meds 60% 38% Assist Parent Every Day 52% 15% Medication Dosing 52% 13% Medical Bills 47% 24% Worry About Capability to Handle 40% 25% Extremely/Very Involved in Diagnosis 39% 25% Worry About Family Finances 34% 19% 85% assist with doctor visits 64% feel appreciated 58% are impacted emotionally Boomers Who Live With Their Ailing Parents More Actively Consider These Issues Than Boomers Who Do Not Living Not Living With Parent With Parent Impact of caregiving on emotional well-being 58% 43% Impact of caregiving on own personal relationships 43% 33% Impact of caregiving on own physical well-being 40% 27% Concern that parent’s needs will surpass own capabilities 40% 25% Impact of costs of parents’ care on own family’s finances 34% 19% Impact of parents’ condition on own career 33% 16% Impact of parents’ condition on own retirement plans 32% 16% Impact of caregiving on sibling relationships 30% 29% Concern over how to reduce time commitment required by care 17% 14% Consideration of the need to move closer to parent 8% 16% Boomers Who Live With Their Ailing Parents Are More Likely to Reap the Benefits of CareGiving Than Those Who Do Not Living Not Living With Parent With Parent Appreciated 64% 49% Responsible 59% 48% Loving 52% 42% Frustrated 45% 40% Overwhelmed 40% 36% Grateful 35% 21% Proud 30% 20% Guilty 25% 25% None of These 12% 14% Source: Campbell-Ewald Health, Warren, Mich. 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