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How we pivoted our target market from millennials to seniors

Most everyone thought our biggest hurdle would be getting seniors to use technology. It hasn't been.

Senior 65 cofounders Chris Mihm, right, and Eric G. Scheinbaum, left. (Courtesy photo)

This is a guest post by Chris Mihm of Senior 65, as part of the 1776 Takeover of Oct. 12, 2015.

In our effort to find a new user-base for our online insurance marketplace we went from selling to millennials (Americans born after 1980) to selling to seniors (Americans 65 and older). While there is a big contrast in the two communities, we are learning that the difference may not be what you might expect.

Let’s back up for a second. Why did we switch target markets? For the last 10 years we have been running a successful online insurance marketplace targeting young people called mediCOVERAGE. Then the Affordable Care Act created its own subsidized insurance marketplace with new regulations that really disrupted our business model. Our solution was to launch a new company called Senior 65, offering tools to help seniors navigate Medicare.
It’s a very similar business model, it targets a new demographic that is not directly impacted by the Affordable Care Act.
Here are three things we have learned since we switched from selling to millennials to selling to seniors.

1. Technophobia isn’t an issue

Most everyone who hears that we are building online tools for seniors assumes that we are dealing with old people on dial-up modems who cannot use a mouse. The truth is if you are 65 in America, there is a good chance that you have been using computers for the last 20 years. Bill Gates turns 60 this month and his peers are our target market. They are comfortable with technology, great online researchers and under the right conditions will make major purchases online. In that regard they are very similar to millennials.

2. Seniors are more relationship driven than millennials

This one is a big generalization but we are finding it to be mostly true. Our young people found value in the product we were selling. Purchasing health insurance made them happy, or at least got their parents off their backs.  They did not love the health insurance research process, and most young people have no interest, whatsoever, in speaking with an agent. We called them, “outcome driven.”
Our seniors, on the other hand, often find great value in the process of buying insurance. Many think the relationship with our brand and agents is as important as buying the product itself. We call them relationship driven and if you push them to make a decision too early it will almost always backfire.

3. Life experience matters

Maybe one of the biggest differences between seniors and millennials is their actual time on this planet. Seniors are older, and they have more life experience. Pretty insightful, huh?
In our case, this life experience means seniors come in with a lot more knowledge (and baggage) about health insurance than their younger counterparts. They ask informed questions and aren’t comfortable making a decision without addressing areas where they have been burned in the past.

Our big takeaway, now that we work with seniors:

So while most everyone thought Senior 65’s biggest hurdle would be getting seniors to use technology, we believe our largest challenge is how we can best use technology to create authentic relationships that leverage senior’s past experiences.
Relationship building goes well beyond providing a phone number on the website so visitors can talk to a human (although we do that too). Clients can build a relationship with your brand based on the tone of the content on your site, trustmarks, online chat, custom tools, email reminders, reviews, comments, etc.
Among the many tools we have implemented, we recently added an interactive wizard that asks questions about our senior’s experience to deliver recommendations which has been really well received. We are still fine-tuning how we best meet the needs of this new user base but by discovering the true differences of this demographic, we are well on our way.

Companies: 76 Forward

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