The drug channel has a decent draw among the “silent generation,” the generation of seniors born between 1925 and 1945 who have impressed upon the baby boomers the importance of healthier living in anticipation of better life quality during their own golden years.
But younger baby boomers between the ages of 48 years and 56 years are under-indexed in shopping the drug channel across several significant health categories, including pain relievers and the dietary supplements. Perhaps influenced by the latest recession, those younger boomers are seeking their analgesic and supplement solutions in value-oriented channels like the dollar store. And with more dollar stores taking a stronger position in health and beauty, retail pharmacy operators may find a sharp uptake in competition in marketing to those younger boomers.
That is a challenge. Those younger boomers tend to spend more than both their parents and older siblings. “There is a slow change from the conservative … lifestyle led by seniors to the more free-spending ways generally associated with boomers,” said Susan Viamari, editor of Times & Trends at SymphonyIRI Group. “That sticks out a little bit more among the younger boomer population. We can see that younger boomers spend about 10% more than older boomers and average shoppers, and about 15% more versus seniors.”
As part of its September 2012 Times & Trends report titled “Baby Boomers: Riding the Wave of Diversity,” SymphonyIRI Goup suggests that the 80 million baby boomers approaching age 65 are not homogenous. And like segmenting Hispanic populations between acculturated and first-generation, it will be important to segment boomers when putting together marketing plans.
While capturing the prescriptions of those boomers is paramount for many pharmacy retailers, the front-end could get a boost as well, as boomers’ concerns around health care cuts across several prevalent health conditions. For instance, 70% of younger boomers and 71% of older boomers feel they are overweight. Boomers also show above average concern with cholesterol and cardiac health. That sets the stage for a strong position in diet and sports nutrition, and light exercise equipment.
When it comes to specific food-related behaviors, adoption tends to increase with age. For example, 35% of younger boomers eat whole grains on most days, and 21% of younger boomers consume omega-3 foods or supplements on a daily basis — versus 41% and 27% of older boomers, respectively — suggesting that there may be a greater need to market products like fiber or other supplements to older boomers.
Many of those healthier living categories index higher as seniors get older. “There’s that opportunity to educate boomers and seniors about the benefits of these categories and how these categories fit into their day-to-day health-and-wellness regimen,” Viamari said.
Delivering that education to boomers may go beyond TV programs like “Dancing With the Stars” or “Grey’s Anatomy.” Use of the Internet as a research tool is on the rise among boomers. “Boomers and seniors are absolutely dabbling in the Internet and new media as they’re looking to learn more about CPG products, whether that’s finding recipes, coupons or deals,” Viamari said. “In all of these areas, consumers across age brackets are dabbling.”