Healthcare Marketing: What to Watch in 2014

The year 2013 marked interesting trends with massive shifts that affected healthcare brands. Mobile marketing was given much deserved attention, trust was seated firmly at the top the brand ladder, and Baby Boomers were recognized as an audience worth targeting. All of the aforementioned trends were connected by the unifying characteristic of rising health engagement. In 2013, the nation’s attention focused on healthcare which was discussed not just in the media, but also on social networking sites and at family barbecues.

As a strategic healthcare marketing firm, at Points Group we embraced these changes as a way to build more meaningful relationships with health audiences, and we anticipate that each of these trends will continue to build throughout 2014.

Mobile Moments

A mobile moment refers to interactions between organizations and their customers that can be enhanced through the use of an application on a mobile device. Trendwatching.com stated, “2013 was the year for mobile moments – when we socialized through mobile devices.”1 This uptick in mobile usage can be attributed to falling smartphone and tablet prices. According to Neilson, 2013 was the year that smartphone owners outnumbered non-smartphone owners.2

There was a big spotlight on healthcare in 2013 thanks in part to the roll out of the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act. And clearly, consumers are finding what they are looking for, because 70 percent of all mobile searches resulted in an action within one hour of inquiry.3 This should be music to the healthcare industry’s ears when you consider that in 2012, 70% of mobile searchers report clicking to call directly from the search results to connect with a business.4

At Points Group, we’ve found that hosting events that encouraging more ‘mobile moments’ allows organizations to build stories with audiences (e.g. a grand opening event for an ambulatory surgical center). We anticipate that in 2014, mobile moments will only grow in importance and should be factored into healthcare marketing strategies.

Trust Makes a Comeback

When you consider that there has been a 50 percent overall drop in trust in brands since 2001, a brand with perceived integrity has a competitive advantage. Build trust with your audience and you’ll have a fan (and customer) for life. In fact, trust to brand equity has risen 35 percent since the financial crisis.5

So how does this correlate to healthcare?

In order to stand out in a crowded field, practices must build trust with their patients by including them more in their own healthcare decisions. Patients that are engaged and have input into their own health have a better overall perception of that care, and will feel more trusting of their health providers.

Marketers have the opportunity to empower patients and build trust using digital and social outreach. The Lose It! App for example, allows people to track their weight loss goals and share socially, and The MAYO CLINIC’s Anxiety Coach app guides its users through confidence building exercises. Apps like GymPact are holding people accountable for their actions by charging them for missed workout sessions. These apps create a feedback loop, providing real time information about actions, and encouraging people to change these actions. This will push them toward better behavior. These positive changes will be attributed to the brand that helped the user achieve what may have been previously seen as an unattainable goal.

Another notable trend is the shift in traditional support groups, which are experiencing a revival via online forums. These online support groups are connecting individuals who would otherwise not have the opportunity to meet and share their experiences. Healthcare brands can build equity and trust by engaging these larger audiences online.

Young at Heart

Studies have shown that Baby Boomers are resisting the aging stereotypes of their predecessors.5

  • 64 percent of all boomers describe themselves as “youthful.”
  • Those with good health habits and good genes can expect to live past 90.
  • 70 percent say they plan to work past the traditional retirement age of 65.

Ford’s Looking Further With Ford 13 Trends For 2013 projected that “Thanks to medical innovations and prolonged life expectancy, consumers are staying forever young mentally as well as physically.”5 This population is looking for personal fulfillment and they are refusing to back down and grow old. For healthcare marketers, this meant taking a more “youthful” approach in communicating with adults over 50. For example when targeting 60-somethings for an ad promoting hip replacement, gone are the traditional gardening and Tai Chi images. Instead you’ll find a grandmother taking a Zumba class and keeping up with her grandchildren.

If you think this edgier approach is too much for your audiences, 2013 proved that Grandma uses Facebook on her smartphone and checks in with a status update when she hits the gym or the movies. Age truly has become just a number and as a marketer it’s important to keep that in mind. Tech conscious healthcare brands adopted and supported this strategy in their campaigns with much success. Looking to dip your toes in the Forever Young market this year? Ford Motor Company suggests using focus groups within your target audience and developing campaigns based off your findings.

What trends are you watching in 2014? Share a comment below.

1 trendwatching.com – The best days of mobile are ahead: less distraction, more quality of life
2 nielsen – Mobile Majority: U.S. Smartphone Ownership Tops 60%
3 Interactive Advertising Bureau – IAB Mobile Phone Shopping Diaries
4 Google – Inside Adwords – New research shows that 70% of mobile searchers call a business directly from search results
5 Ford – Looking Further With Ford 13 Trends For 2013


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