The Health of Generations: Selling insurance across age groups

Studying generational differences helps inform marketing and messaging tactics across industries. In a closely regulated industry like healthcare, the market’s future is highly contingent on evolving legislation and political actions. While future changes to legislation are unknown, we can still analyze trends and distinctions of age groups to direct our marketing and sales efforts in strategic ways. The following discussion outlines key differences and similarities across generations.

Generation Y

Generation Y is a digital-focused age group, growing up in an era of rapid advancements in technology. Gen Y, also known as Millennials, represents an estimated 83 million people in the United States. Their age range spans from college students and young professionals to mid-career with young families. They tend to skew liberal in political views and comprise of much higher diversity than previous generations (43% non-white ethnicity). Millennials have been widely described as ideological, tolerant, technology-minded, and motivated by social causes.

Millennials are the most actively disengaged age group with primary insurance carriers. Gallup studies have shown that an actively engaged insurance customer spends more on insurance products, buys a wider variety of products, stays with their insurer longer, and is less sensitive to shifts in price.

As the largest and least engaged generation, Millennials present a major opportunity to insurance carriers to deepen engagement through making the customer feel valued. When marketing to this generation, expect your audience to be primarily consuming information from a mobile device and wanting product information and online quoting readily available. Top drivers of Millennial customer engagement include keeping personal information secure, ease of making changes to coverage, finding quick answers to insurance questions, and offering services needed online.

See our recent Millennials blog for more details about healthcare consumption and habits.

Generation X

Generation X is often called the “middle child” of the generations, representing 65 million U.S. citizens. Research shows that this generation’s characteristics and political views are a hybrid of Baby Boomers and Generation Y, making it tougher for marketers to pinpoint distinctions. Their attitudes on social issues tend to bridge Gen Y’s liberalism with Baby Boomers’ conservativism. However, one clear distinction is Gen X’s general pessimism about institutionsMarket research has indicated that Gen X lacks confidence in social security, retirement age, quality of healthcare, life expectancy, savings, and financial markets.

In their middle-aged season of life, Gen Xers are widely concerned with caring for aging parents and young children over their own health-related concerns, feeling responsibility for the generations on each end. Half of Gen X expects to help pay for parents’ healthcare costs. A recent study found that Gen Xers are less likely to take preventative health steps than Baby Boomers. Only half of Gen Xers had a routine physical exam within the last five years (compared to 72% of Baby Boomers), and one in three avoid scheduling doctor appointments for fear of learning bad news. Recognizing Gen X’s doubts and worries about the future presents the opportunity for insurance agents to persuade and position their products as wise investments when planning for the unknown.

In terms of media habits, Gen X unsurprisingly falls in the middle on traditional media channel consumption. However, one notable distinction is that Gen Xers spend the most time on social media out of all generations, spending an average of seven hours per week.

Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers make up 77 million people in the U.S. population. This group’s age range currently falls between early 50s and late 60s. Baby Boomers come from an era with a “work to live” attitude and goal-oriented ambitions. Eighty-four per cent claim an affiliated religion. Their attitudes and political views generally skew more conservative and patriotic than their successors.

Fifty-five per cent of Baby Boomers participate in recommended screening tests for early disease detection. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that Baby Boomers are projected to live longer than their predecessors (the Silent Generation), but not necessarily at a healthier quality of life.

As the Baby Boomer generation continues to move toward age 65, this segment represents a huge opportunity for Medicare as a growth market. With more communication turning digital, agencies will need to rethink strategies for selling Medicare to keep up with changing media consumption habits. As of 2017, 35.9 million internet users are ages 65 and older. As a more tech-savvy generation enters retirement age, insurance carriers may need to adjust for a more digital-minded senior population.

Check out the following statistics on key health insurance trends:

Insurance by Generation

Does your agency need to rethink your marketing strategy? Check out our recent blog on digital marketing tactics.