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Frequent GP Practice Attenders – 65+ Adults

29 Feb 2024
Two in five older adults suffer from poor mental health
Only 31% eat their RDA of fruit and vegetables
80% of those aged 65+ years suffers from a long term health condition
By Hattie

Whilst many marketers crave and court Gen Z’s, the world is getting older. The ‘silver’ or ‘grey’ market is one of the fastest-growing demographic segments globally. In the UK there are over 11 million people aged 65 years or older (18.6% of the total population), and by 2030, one in six people in the world will be aged 60 years or over.

Tapping into this growing demographic can be a rewarding strategy for brands and organisations, not just because of their relatively high levels of disposable income but also because they tend to exhibit strong brand loyalty and stability in their purchasing behaviour.

Characteristics of 65+ Adults as Frequent GP Attenders

Whilst they are not a homogenous group, and shouldn’t be treated as such, older adults may have some common characteristics – particularly when we are reaching them within a healthcare environment.

Older adults are more likely to experience particular health conditions, including chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, and heart disease. Prevalence of all long-term physical conditions rises with age, affecting 50% of people by the age of 50 years and 80% by the age of 65 years. They also tend to suffer from conditions such as vision and hearing impairment as well as mobility issues.

These age-related health concerns and complex medical needs are contributing factors towards this group being coined ‘frequent attenders’ – a group of patients who make a disproportionately higher number of visits to GP clinics.

Another reason for frequent attendance is that older people value the socio-emotional behaviours of GPs in consultations. Other research suggests thousands of individuals over the age of 65 are visiting their GP each year just because they are lonely and that the number of GP visits increases with poorer subjective wellbeing and lower optimism.

Self-care is also an issue that causes frequent attendance. 43% of malnutrition cases are people 65+ and only 31% eat their RDA of fruit and vegetables.

What is the Impact of an Aging Population on General Practice?

So, whilst we are living longer, it’s clear we are not necessarily living healthier lives and this is impacting both primary and secondary care.

Age is a major driver of public spending – partly due to the prevalence of multi-morbidity which rises with age as does the cost of caring. This translates to an increased demand for healthcare services to manage chronic diseases and provide preventive care.

Providing care for older adults may require more frequent and longer consultation times due to the complexity of health conditions. Similarly, it also demands more health promotion and disease prevention strategies to optimise health outcomes and quality of life in later years.

With an ageing population, there is also a growing need to support caregivers as well as the patient. This might be in the form of guidance and resources on health issues, provision of respite care and referrals to support services or products.

Challenges and Opportunities in Targeting Older Adults Aged 65+

Challenges

  • Digital literacy – whilst the adoption of technology among older adults is increasing, there remains a divide in terms of digital literacy, access to technology, and comfort with using digital devices. One must consider this when looking at the marketing mix deployed.
  • Diversity – as with all target audiences, older adults comprise a diverse group with varied needs, preferences, and lifestyles. Targeting this population therefore requires an understanding of relevant nuances and tailoring marketing strategies to address the unique preferences of different segments.
  • Communication – hearing loss, vision impairment, cognitive decline, or language barriers are all communication challenges which require attention. Advertisers must use clear, accessible language, legible font and colours to effectively engage with the older consumer.

Opportunities

  • Disposable income – according to McKinsey, compared to younger people, consumers who are 65 and older spend more per person, primarily as a result of high healthcare expense
  • Engaged in health and wellness – older adults often seek products and services that enhance their quality of life and are willing to invest in health-related products, such as nutritional supplements, fitness equipment, medical devices, and preventive healthcare services.
  • Brand loyalty – once this age group finds a brand or product they trust, they are likely to remain loyal customers over the long term.
  • Trust in tradition – they are heavily influenced and trust more in “traditional” health authorities, such as doctors, than younger audiences – an important factor to consider when considering integrating healthcare into your marketing strategy.
  • Considered health and wellness purchasers – Whilst this group may have disposable income, they also seek value-conscious options. However, they are willing to invest in health-related products, such as nutritional supplements, fitness equipment, medical devices, and preventive healthcare services.
Successful Campaigns Targeting Older Adults Aged 65+

Unfortunately when companies do market to the older consumer, they often get it wrong. Their advertising can be stereotypical, boring and downright ageist. However, some get it right.

“Horniculture” – was a 2023 campaign for condoms for the elderly. This DOOH campaign was the brainchild of relationship charity Relate and Ogilvy UK, designed to get people talking about later-life sex. We love any campaign that helps break taboos, particularly one set in a garden centre

In the same year, Age UK partnered with ITV’s Big Brother to highlight loneliness among the elderly. Created by Manning Gottlieb OMD in partnership with ITV Creative and Neverland, “Uncomfortable Reality” features four films, varying from 30 seconds to a minute in length, shot inside the Big Brother house. It’s a brave approach – positioning such a hard-hitting topic alongside a populist and sometimes controversial programme – but it’s this juxtaposition that memorably hammers the message home.

Sister Madonna Buder – also known as the “Iron Nun” – was the oldest woman to complete an Ironman and Nike featured her in this video. We love this commercial as it challenges our views of ageing and empowers the age group rather than demoralises them.

Targeting older adults aged 65 and above in healthcare presents an opportunity for health and wellness brands and organisations to develop a long-standing relationship with a loyal and solution-seeking audience. Key to this is understanding the unique characteristics to shape your messaging, which isn’t a linear or simple process.

We can help you get under the skin of these frequent attenders and get your message in front of an audience where they need it the most so if you would like more information on this particular group, please get in touch and we’d be delighted to send you more information.