Case Study

Capturing the “Older Adult” Market

Many healthcare organizations came to see the aging of the baby boom generation as an opportunity to expand their services. Regional Medical Center (RMC, a fictional organization on which this case study is based) responded to this opportunity by establishing a service line devoted to older adults. The intent was to capture the business—and the loyalty—of this large, relatively affluent, and increasingly needy segment of the population. The service line was designed to meet the emerging needs of this population for specialty services such as cardiology, orthopedics, ophthalmology, and urology in a way that would be appealing to this relatively demanding consumer segment.
Because this service was considered innovative in the community served by RMC, an aggressive promotional campaign was undertaken. RMC’s marketing department considered a wide range of marketing options and decided on a multipronged campaign to approach the target population from a variety of directions. The first phase of the promotional campaign focused on internal marketing. It was important that RMC’s employees be familiar with this new program and be able to articulate its merits to potential customers. Many of the customers for the new program were likely to be existing patients of RMC.
Well before the new program was scheduled to open for enrollment, an aggressive PR campaign was initiated. Press releases were distributed, articles were prepared for local publications and professional journals, and celebrity spokespeople were lined up. Simple yet attractive collateral materials (e.g., business cards, letterhead, envelopes, brochures) were developed for distribution to prospective customers and to referral agents who might channel customers to RMC. Information was distributed to providers and organizations that might serve other needs of the target population, and the community’s major insurance plans were made aware of the new program and its benefits. Tours of the facility housing the new program were provided to key constituents (e.g., referring physicians and health plan representatives), and open houses were scheduled for both medical professionals and the general public.
The marketing initiative also involved direct solicitation of members of the target population. RMC extracted data from its internal database on existing customers and purchased mailing lists of households that included members aged 50 to 65. Using the findings from previous research on the “buttons to push” in this age cohort, marketing staff prepared materials that would appeal to the particular needs of older adults. The address lists were then used to mail materials directly to targeted individuals.
While RMC did not want to rely on expensive media advertising for attracting customers, its marketers felt that some media presence was necessary—not only to attract customers who might be missed through the direct mail campaign but also to make the general public aware of this new program. In some cases, other family members might be making decisions for the older adult population, and awareness of this program on the part of the general public was considered important. After careful research on the communication attributes of family caregivers, a series of newspaper, radio, and television advertisements were produced. These advertisements were placed in the sections of the local newspaper that members of this age group read, aired on the radio stations they preferred, and presented on the television channels they viewed most often. For the electronic media, particular attention was paid to the time of day and day of the week members of the target population were expected to be engaged.
The success of RMC’s new older adult service line during the first year exceeded the expectations of the organization’s administrators. While it was difficult to determine which of the promotional techniques used had the most impact on the program’s early success, the marketing staff concluded, on the basis of its evaluation of the campaign, that it was the integrated approach—a variety of coordinated activities—that led to the successful program launch.

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1. Why did RMC think that older adults presented enough of a market opportunity to establish an entirely new program?

2. What information did RMC need to gather about this target population before the program could be established?

3. What information did RMC need to gather about this target population before the marketing campaign could be planned?

4. What were the different paths through which RMC attempted to reach the target audience?

5. Which marketing techniques did RMC use to reach the target population?

6. Why was internal marketing an important first step in marketing this new program?

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