Generations of people tend to share characteristics that aesthetic practices can harness to better target their marketing efforts. From social media to billboards to, yes, even television, the right mix can optimize marketing to today’s generations:
- Traditionalists, also known as the silent generation, born between 1922 and 1945
- Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964
- Generation Xers, born from 1965 to 1979
- Millennials, born between 1980 and 1995
- Generation Z, born after 1995
So what are the important generational differences and how can that information be used to build successful marketing campaigns? Industry physicians, marketing experts and researchers advise.
The Older Generations
While members of the silent generation might be less accustomed to communicating electronically, baby boomers are versatile in their communication and are more likely to embrace online and social media marketing. Still, these older generations tend to respond to traditional marketing approaches, such as sponsoring and participating in community events — from fun runs to food drives, according to Joe Sloan, marketing and communications coordinator at Advice Media.
As consumers and patients, baby boomers care about reviews, referrals and looking for the right person. They don’t tend to be price sensitive, according to Tom La Vecchia, MBA, president of X Factor Media.
Generation Xers often make up large percentages of the aesthetic practice’s patients. One way to reach this generation is through referral programs, Sloan writes in an email to The Aesthetic Channel.
“This is a great way to attract new patients and reward your most loyal patients,” Sloan writes. “You want to provide a system that will encourage word-of-mouth marketing by rewarding both the referrer and referee. Referrals are one of the most trusted marketing sources.”
Gen Xers tend to be a bit more price sensitive but will be loyal to a provider if providers meet their needs, according to La Vecchia.
Gen Xers tend to be skeptics who read the fine print, according to Scott S. Christensen, DNP, MBA, APRN, ACNP-BC, clinical operations director at the University of Utah Health. Christensen was among the authors of a study looking at generational behaviors in the nursing workforce, published January 30, 2018, in the Journal of Nursing Management.
“They respond well to direct, authentic communications without the fluff,” according to Christensen.
Millennials, or generation Y, grew up on the internet and expects to find answers quickly no matter the device, Sloan writes.
“Millennials are an inquisitive generation who ask lots of questions and seek constant feedback. As the generation who grew up during the emergence of text messaging, emails and instant messages, they are comfortable with impersonal forms of communication and are accustomed to receiving quick feedback,” according to Christensen.
Millennials want value, care about social proof and need to like the provider above and beyond the service. In other words, experiences matter, according to La Vecchia.
Aesthetic practices trying to reach millennials should have fast, mobile-responsive websites that work on phones, tablets and computers. The next step is to optimize content on the site to appear higher in Google Search results, according to Sloan.
Generation Z is a visual generation, according to Christensen.
“This generation doesn't respond to being advertised at or outbound marketing as much as it does to inbound marketing. This means they don't want you to advertise to them. They want to find you,” according to Sloan.
Practices should focus on having robust content that answers potential patients’ questions at any stage in the decision-making process. According to Sloan, this means that practices should offer detailed information during the awareness stage, feature a before and after gallery when people are in the consideration stage and provide pricing and contact information for the decision stage.
Demonstrations appeal to gen Z patients. They crave information before making aesthetic decisions and want to feel educated. They’re are bit more frugal than millennials, according to La Vecchia.
Generation Z, also called the “new silent generation,” loves YouTube, according to Sloan.
“This is a generation that is very familiar with searching for videos from ‘How To' to lifestyle vlogs. …you will want to make sure your practice has videos that are well produced that help answer questions these potential patients may be too embarrassed to ask,” Sloan writes.
Applying Knowledge to Practice
Inessa Fishman, M.D., a facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon in Atlanta, Ga., says her patients are multigenerational.
“While my aging face practice tends to be 40s and older, my injectables and rhinoplasty patients are usually in the teens [to] young 30s crowd,” Fishman tells The Aesthetic Channel.
The marketing strategies that resonate with Dr. Fishman’s younger patients include a mix of the old and newer marketing approaches.
Word of mouth remains king, according to Dr. Fishman.
“Nothing is a stronger recommendation than a close girlfriend or sister or Barre classmate,” according to Dr. Fishman. “I have a yoga teacher whose clients I see at least every week. The influencers are now influencing both in person and on social media. …a recommendation over coffee goes alongside a shout-out on [Instagram, or IG].”
RealSelf and Instagram are more popular than ever, according to Dr. Fishman.
“My younger patients are spending less time on Facebook and are Instagramming multiple times a day. I feel that IG content needs to be beautiful, curated, visually interesting and able to convey a strong message in less than 30 seconds,” she writes. “RealSelf is very popular in my practice and brings in younger patients who are using it to vet both procedures and physicians. I'm also seeing Pinterest rise in popularity, both in the 20-year-old women and young moms.”
And before and after photos might be losing ground to videos, according to Dr. Fishman, who says videos resonate with younger patients. These include videos about procedures, patient testimonials and before and after videos.
“Sleek productions, tailored content, beautiful fonts — these are all becoming more accessible to everyone in the industry, and the quality of content is truly better than ever,” Dr. Fishman writes. “I also see more personal ‘a glimpse into my life’ posts being more popular with my patients.”
San Francisco-based plastic surgeon Jonathan Kaplan, M.D., MPH, tells The Aesthetic Channel that to reach generations X and Z and millennials his practice is very active on social media, posting his surgeries on Snapchat and Instagram stories. Doing so captures teenagers to 40-something year olds, he says.
But his approach to 50-something and older patients is to market via billboards and television commercials. Yes, he says, people are still watching TV!
Social Media Best Practices
Aesthetic practices should keep three steps in mind when using social media to market to the generations:
- Choose the right channels.
- Choose the right messaging.
- Choose the right follow-up methods, according to Mandy McEwen, founder and CEO of Mod Girl Marketing.
While Snapchat and Instagram can be ideal platforms for reaching millennial and generation Z patients, silent generation patients are more likely to be on Facebook, according to McEwen.
“Choosing the right channels is just one step of devising a successful, segmented marketing strategy. You must also convey the right messaging,” McEwen writes in an email to The Aesthetic Channel. “A 21-year old uses different language and has different interests than a 65-year old. A 21-year old also values social proof and is constantly looking for what their peers are saying and doing.”
For follow-up, McEwen writes that the younger generation of patients often prefers text messages over phone calls.
“Of course, having a combination of text, phone calls, and emails is the best way to ensure you are reaching your prospects via every possible channel, as long as it's done strategically and not intrusively,” says McEwen.