February 6, 2017

5 Things You Don’t Know About Senior Living Shoppers


New research shows there are five critical pieces of information senior care marketers and executives don’t know about their target audience — those shopping for or considering senior care solutions for themselves or their parents. The insights stem from our newly published Conversation Report entitled Independent Living to Nursing Homes: Understanding the Buyer Journey for Senior Care.

While the industry seems content to continue to present dreamlike worlds where mom and and dad can retire in peace, the reality of the buyer journey for senior care reveals the industry is not addressing critical questions. For nursing homes, assisted living facilities, independent living businesses and long-term care providers, addressing these bits of information in their marketing and communications could fill consumer needs and position the businesses more successfully.

  1. Senior care shoppers don’t know the difference in products

Most senior care shoppers refer to the search for care as finding a “home for mom,” or “putting mom/dad in a home.” In fact, 66% of senior care conversations call out nursing homes as the facility in question. The default thinking is “nursing home” despite a variety of options that can be solutions before the parent even needs that level of care. Independent Living and Assisted Living Facilities are likely being overlooked by those seeking care because of the lack of product awareness.

  1. Senior care shoppers turn to social media for comfort, not shopping

We asked a small survey group a set of questions about how various digital marketing assets played a role in their selection of senior care options. While the average shopper acknowledged social media served a role in comforting them in an emotionally turbulent time, only two people out of 15 indicated that social media played a role in their decision and neither of those indicated it played a significant role.

  1. Senior care shoppers think they’ll lose their house if their parent can’t pay

The most frequent proactive question senior care shoppers asked online about the experience had little to do with the quality of care or even type of facility. More than half of all questions about senior care from shoppers were centered on the legalities of paying for care. The prevailing question: If mom’s insurance runs out, can the nursing home take my house?

  1. Senior care shoppers ask questions that brands don’t answer

In addition to the legalities of paying for senior care, customers next two largest categories of questions were other legal questions and financial questions not related to legal liability. Only then do the topics center around the shopping experience (how good is the care, what is the facility like, etc.) The three legal and financial topics combined account for 79% of all questions asked by consumers in online conversations.

  1. Senior care shoppers talk to their existing communities, not brands

While some consumers will turn to social media accounts of senior care providers for specific questions, the lion’s share of the conversation about senior care is happening on forums and message boards. And while AgingCare.com ranks as the most fruitful place for these conversations, sites like WeightWatchers.com and BabyCenter.com rank high as well. This shows that people shopping for senior care turn to communities they already trust for advice and do not seem to seek out topic-specific resources.

Many more insights can be found in Independent Living to Nursing Homes: Understanding the Buyer Journey for Senior Care. A free copy of the Executive Summary is available on our website. The full report can be purchased there as well.

Independent Living to Nursing Homes: Understanding the Buyer Journey for Senior Care offers analysis of 12 months of online conversations focused on the shopping experience for consumers choosing senior care solutions for themselves or a loved one. The report is the first industry report offered by CRI and traces its inspiration back to the first-ever conversation research report published by my old agency, Social Media Explorer in 2012. That report, on the banking industry, ushered in conversation research as an effective method to understand consumer insights by analyzing social media conversations.



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