A New Marketing Opportunity
Developing new marketing strategy is a complex and dynamic process, which depends on a number of different factors. While considering the new marketing strategy in healthcare sphere, the target market analysis should be conducted. Target consumers are the key factor, which should be emphasized, during the process of changes.. Today, healthcare system can rely largely on mature and international consumer markets. In order to find out what marketing strategy should be applied, close analysis of both strategies should be made.
Marketing Healthcare Services to Mature Consumers
As people age, they tend to become more dissimilar with respect to their needs, lifestyles, and consumption habits. Nowadays, the U.S. is experiencing the age shift with increased number of 50-year-old people (Marsh, 2010). Those people are generally perceived as mature consumers. Mature consumers tend to spend more money on financial services, entertainment, travel and health than younger consumers. Those aged 55 and older spend more than average on health insurance, medical services, prescription and over-the-counter drugs, and personal care supplies. This is an essential fact, which must be taken into account while considering the new marketing strategy. It is also significant to remember that mature consumers prefer to receive medical-care services at their homes. According to Moschis (2000):
Nearly the one third of Americans aged 55 and over prefers receiving medical-care services at home, but only 6 percent actually do. The fact that there are so many more people who have preference for but no access to at-home health-care services signifies an unmet need and an opportunity for health-care providers. (p.7)
There appears to be a great demand for preventive health-care services, such as health-membership programs and fitness programs, especially among young mature Americans. Contrary to conventional vision of the healthcare services, the need for health care is not linked to the person’s age, but to the number of socioeconomic factors.
The organizations should be cautious about choosing the strategy, in order to attract the mature segment to the organization. In this case, the marketplace is mature and the organization is at the initial stage of growth, it may adopt a necessity strategy. This strategy is carried out in the belief that this service is needed to compete effectively, even when the service is not expected to gain a large share of the existing market. The only limitation on capturing the market share is prior existence of competitors.
However, it should be stated that it is rather difficult to attract the mature consumers to all the healthcare services. For that reason, it would be wise to choose separate market segments (two or three) with special needs, and to develop services in order to meet those needs. This act would definitely assist in developing the reputation, cost control, and recognizing community capability. The organization should analyze the mature market and choose the segments which are marked by the increased number of consumers. For example, it is a well-known fact that mature consumers do not usually suffer from chronic diseases, but they take care about their health. The organization should take into account this fact and try to create special units, aimed at treatment of various diseases. However, it may concentrate on the post-operational treatment units, oncological units, etc. Moreover, as it was mentioned, the mature patients prefer home treatment. This fact should be taken into account, and this unit should have the cozy home atmosphere with special health care services. It might turn out to be rather efficient due to the fact that it will attract specific patients. Today, the health care services are mainly concentrated on young and elderly consumers. It means that different clinics and hospitals try to adopt new technologies and mechanisms in order to impress young consumers, or just stick to the traditions of the past, which seem to be satisfactory for the elderly consumers. Paying attention to mature segment could turn out to be the happy medium.
In order to achieve true success, the organization should take into account all the physiologic and psychological characteristics and nuances of aging. Aging is a natural physiological process, which is accompanied by a complex set of age-related changes in almost all organs and systems. However, mature people are not old, and they need particular treatment. Mature people are those individuals, who have achieved something in their lives, who have gained particular experience, and who feel themselves young, despite some physiological problems. In order to center the organization towards this consumer segment, the CEO should consider such things as services, price, and target result. These issues should be carefully considered, as the services have to be genuine and even unique, the price should be rather democratic, and the target result should be brilliant. Masterful mix of those three factors will result in sheer success.
In general, the marketing program should be created in such a way that it could meet specific needs of the mature segment. It would be wise to link lifestyles to the health care products and services.
Marketing Health Care Services to International Consumers
At first sight, marketing health care services to the international consumers seems to be the bright idea. The U.S. health care is generally perceived as one of the best in the whole world. However, the main problem is the price. Today a growing number of Americans try to reach more cost-effective medical services in other countries due to the high cost of health care in the U.S (Jenkins, 2003).
But, it should also be mentioned that there is a growing number of wealthy international consumers, who want to get the advanced medical treatment with the newest technologies in the U.S. This country offers its patients highly educated medical personnel, trained physicians and other health care providers that can cope with difficult medical cases for a reasonably high price. While attracting international consumers, such factors as the quality of care and the final result should be emphasized. The marketing plan should be developed taking into account these two factors. The thing is that in most cases, people who come to the U.S. from abroad want to receive high-quality medical care, and the price is not that important for them. Those consumers are interested in the newest technologies and strategies of treatment.
It should be noted that in order to achieve success, the organization should choose the segments which it wants to improve and develop to attract international consumers. This could be oncological unit or department for children with some particular disabilities. The thing is that people decide to get medical treatment abroad only in case of burning necessity. Cancer and some disabilities are serious causes which make people search for the best treatment possible.
While considering two marketing strategies which were mentioned above, it should be stated that marketing health care to mature consumers seems the more appropriate one. This strategy targets the local market, which is generally known and understandable. It is much easier to incorporate some global changes, when the organization knows general preferences of the target audience. In case of attracting international consumers, the situation is much more different. In this case, the organization will have to develop one or two main departments, and lay main emphasis on them. It would be much more difficult, because medical personnel have to include not just qualified and professional doctors, but real geniuses of their profession. Moreover, these departments should get expensive equipment and should provide really comfortable conditions for its consumers. This is not just buying new beds and creating pleasant atmosphere. In this case, the organization should set up the department, which has to be different from hundreds of others. It would be rather cost-effective, and there is no complete confidence that it would be really successful; however, there are chances to achieve great success. In case of mature market attraction, everything is much simpler and less troublesome. Of course, creating new units and departments is rather problematic, but in this case, the tastes, wishes and preferences are more or less known and the target audience could be easily analyzed.
Developing and marketing healthcare services to mature consumers is strongly recommended. However, the other strategy also seems to be rather efficient, but it demands more costs and efforts. Developing both strategies is not recommended, because the organization is just on its way to changes and innovations. Introduction of both strategies can be performed by large corporations, but not by this organization. It should create its reputation. For that reason, it would be wise to concentrate on one thing.
Close analysis of both strategies has revealed that choosing the marketing of health care services to mature consumers has more chances to succeed . The target market is well-known and understandable and the organization can easily serve to it and fulfill its needs. Moreover, this strategy demands less costs, and it is also rather essential. Marketing strategy aimed at attracting international consumers is an interesting choice, but there are a lot of pitfalls. The U.S. health care is rather expensive, for that reason, only wealthy international consumers can afford it.