Younger Boomers: a perfect fit for health and wellness apps

As health insurers roll out new mobile apps integrating wellness, fitness, and chronic disease control, younger Baby Boomers make the perfect target market.

Our firm, MitchellPR, recently conducted a national online survey of 600 Boomer smartphone users and the results show that younger, female, Boomers

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are much more likely than their older counterparts to download health and wellness apps.

We found:

  • A solid majority of 48-53-year olds (54%) will download a wellness app, compared to less than half of those 54-60 (46%) and just four-in-ten of 61-66 year olds (39%).
  • Women (52%) are 11% more likely than men (41%) to download a health and fitness app on their smartphones.

In addition, Northeasterners are more likely to download the apps than Boomers from other regions. Generally, the higher the income, the more likely it is that a Boomer will download a health and fitness app.

In fact, younger Boomers are extremely connected on their mobile devices, the survey concluded.

By a 20% margin, younger Boomers between ages 48-53 (62%) are more likely to log into Facebook from their smartphone than older Boomers 61-66 (42%).

Text messaging is also very popular with Boomers, nine-out-ten (88%) do it. But again, that number is skewed toward younger Boomers. The survey showed nearly every younger Boomer texts compared to three-of-four older Boomers. And Boomers who text, really like it, with 52% texting one to five times a day, 20% six to 10 times a day, and 16% more than 10 times every day.

Recently, eMarketer released a report that says that Baby Boomers are less likely to be digitally connected than Millenials. While this is certainly true when looking at the cohort as a whole, when it is broken down into segments—young Boomer vs. older Boomer, the results are staggering. Younger Boomers are increasing their mobile usage daily, producing a rapidly growing marketplace.

What is troubling, however, is the resistance of older Boomers to be digitally connected. The group that needs help the most is missing out on terrific apps to help them manage chronic disease. Although I’ve heard several Boomers say they don’t have the dexterity to navigate the smartphone mobile apps, I find that to be a weak argument. They seem to be able to operate from a tablet very easily.

And as the Pew Internet & American Life Project report indicates, nearly the same percentage of Boomers (3.5%) own tablets as do younger generations (5%). However, this Pew survey taken in 2010, does not reflect the huge increase in Boomer tablet purchases that was reported in December 2011. Walk in an Apple store and take notice of the number of Boomers with iPads in hand or surrounding tables taking classes.

The takeaway

Older Boomers health and wellness, and their prevention of chronic disease, could benefit greatly if they were more connected to digital monitoring apps. Our survey showed that a solid majority of Boomers of all ages (57%) was likely to download a medical or wellness app if they were diagnosed with a chronic disease and their doctor or family member recommended it. Therefore, it’s beneficial to all to target health apps to Boomers. There’s an untapped market that would use the health care apps if the right people encouraged them to do so, and if they are taught to navigate the programs.

Doctors need to step it up and encourage Boomer patients to download and use the health care apps. If they don’t already own a tablet, trends show they will be purchasing one soon.


[By Aging2.0 Guest Contributor and AARP Blogger: Suzie Mitchell]