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Beyond The Tooth: 5 Insights About Baby Boomers and Why It Matters

By Planet DDS
March 11, 2021

By Dr. Greg Grillo

We look at patients from many different angles and organize strategies around our analytics. For example, some of us utilize A, B, C classification systems based on compliance and payment behavior. But we may not spend as much time considering generational differences as we should. Better consumer psychology leads to more effective and targeted strategies to engage our patients throughout their experience with us. And a 24-year old patient doesn’t see the world the same way as their grandparents. If we don’t know what works best for one demographic over another, we end up frustrated and less effective in managing our patients.

Baby Boomers comprise one influential layer of the consumer economy. Our practices may serve five generations on any given day, and we move quickly from one phone call or interaction to the next. Here are five keys that help us understand Baby Boomers a little better:

1. They’re a Big Crowd

About 70 million people classify as Baby Boomers, which makes this generation the largest consumer segment. Born between 1946 and 1964 during the post-World-War II baby boom, they’re going to be with us for a long time yet. The 18-year span also means we may see parents and their children both considered Baby Boomers.

IMPACT: With 40% of the market share falling into their hands, we’re typically going to see these patients more than most. Marketing techniques and communication channels that impact them most will give our practices strategic boosts. We can customize campaigns and reminder methods that connect and keep them flowing through our operatories with smart technology tools. Surprisingly, search engines significantly outweigh social media as the best way to reach new Baby Boomer consumers. Google Maps listings and local search results carry weight, and we need simple, smart ways to stay at the top.

2. This Crowd Has Resources…And Debt

The Baby Boomer generation holds about 70% of the disposable income in the U.S., and they’re likely to accumulate more. As their parents pass on, experts predict those Baby Boomers will inherit about $13 trillion in the coming years. As assets appreciate and new investment opportunities arise, this wealth may continue to see exponential growth.

IMPACT: As a general rule, this generation has more resources to spend on discretionary purchases. But many of them still have financial concerns; 65% of boomers are still paying off credit card debt. Regardless, Baby Boomers may choose to support healthcare for their extended families, including grandchildren. Additionally, 50% are using their retirement savings to help their adult children, and that trend will likely accelerate. Providing patient portals with payment options and capabilities helps them efficiently manage expenditures.

3. They Understand Technology

Baby Boomers welcomed the first black-and-white and color TVs, and they’re more comfortable with technology than we may think– 96% of Baby Boomers use search engines , 95% use email, and 92% shop for products and services online rather than in brick-and-mortar stores. The majority of them own smartphones and use them an average of five hours daily, but may not spend time on TikTok like their grandchildren. Smart brands know how to meet them in the right places.

IMPACT: Digital tools with an intuitive user experience feel comfortable to Baby Boomers, and they expect businesses to offer them. The majority spend time reading blogs, and 70% enjoy watching videos about products and services. Facebook tends to be a favorite social media platform with this crowd. They like convenience, and they quit booking hotel reservations via phone long ago. Online appointment scheduling, mobile-friendly websites, and text reminders don’t just belong to Millennials. Translated to our dental practices, an integrated digital framework isn’t optional.

4. They Look Inward

A fierce disagreement exists in some circles over who owns the infamous “me” generation label. Millennials may find themselves unfairly perceived as self-centered, irresponsible, and lazy. But Baby Boomers came of age during the 1960s and ‘70s, a time some writers dubbed the rise of “narcissism.” Regardless, Baby Boomers appreciate independence and free choice in every aspect of their lives.

IMPACT: Dentistry allows people to choose care that enhances their lives and provides a sense of control over the future. As a trusted source of healthcare information, we can guide them towards dental solutions they haven’t considered yet. We can also meet their service expectations with pre-appointment comfort surveys that personalize their care. Or we can show possibilities by eliminating barriers through teledentistry virtual appointments.

5. They’re Focused on Healthy Living

Baby Boomers put more of a premium than their parents did on their health, and medical technology continues to increase the quality and quantity of their lives. This generation values active lifestyles, including socialization with friends and family. People tend to report they feel about 20% younger than they really are, according to a Michigan State study of 500,000 people, and this perception accelerates with age. Beginning at age 50, many say they feel about 10 years younger.

IMPACT: Baby Boomers don’t necessarily consider themselves an aging population, and they’re interested in every opportunity to maintain their wellness. More than 36 million Americans are completely edentulous, and 120 million are missing at least one tooth. This statistic is projected to grow in the next twenty years. Our practices can educate patients on the benefits of implants and the links between oral and general health. Email workflows, interactive website assessments, and active social media campaigns create steady engagement and move patients towards treatment.

Baby Boomers Offer a Win-Win Relationship

As the Baby Boomer population marches forward, they’ll continue to constitute a vital part of our practices for many more years. The recommendations they give their friends will drive their influence further down the road; the resources they leave behind for their families will fund more choices for the next generation.

Legwork understands the dynamic consumer psychology evolving throughout society today, and the role smart digital tools play for effective patient engagement. Baby Boomers value a complex mix of technology, convenience, independence, and wellness. We’re poised to offer dentistry and service that helps patients experience healthcare that enriches their next phase of life.

Learn more about what this demographic is looking for in a dentist by tuning into our webinar discussion with a panel of Baby Boomer patients.