‘Social’ Marketing Research Shows Consumers Lack Knowledge Of Care Options
A report released on Feb. 2 by Louisville, Ky.-based market researchers Conversation Research Institute (CRI) tracks social media conversations for discussions about housing and care options for seniors. What the research shows is that consumers looking for care for a loved one do not understand the various types of care and products available.
“From Independent Living to Nursing Homes: Understanding the Buyer Journey for Senior Care” is a nontraditional type of market research report, conducted on social media and online conversations that occurred from Nov. 1, 2015, through Oct. 31, 2016. These conversations were focused on the purchase and the use of senior care facilities and services, according to CRI founder Jason Falls.
“Long term care, independent living facilities, assisted living facilities, and nursing
homes do emerge as conversation segments for senior care buyers, with the majority of facility conversations (66 percent) falling into the nursing home category. The lack of understanding of product offerings and types of facilities likely contributes to that imbalance,” the report said.
In particular, in examining social media conversations, CRI said the senior care industry is severely under-represented among Hispanic consumers. “Hispanics discuss senior care at 28 percent the rate of other topics, compared to a broad Internet population. With the Hispanic population base expected to double by 2060, this segment could be severely underserved by the industry,” the report said.
The way the research works is that CRI gathers information from existing social communities, like online forums and message boards such as Facebook. From there, the conversations are collected and analyzed for possible trends that may be useful for targeted industries, such as in this case seniors housing and care providers. The point of the report is to decipher the “buyer’s journey,” which is to say exactly how a consumer—in this case those with loved ones in need of seniors housing or care—makes a purchasing decision.
Senior care buyers use social conversations at five major intervals in the buyer journey: realization, selection, enrollment, experience, and change. The terms as defined in the research said realization is when the consumer sees that their loved one may need care beyond the home setting. Selection occurs when they start the consideration process, and enrollment is when a loved one is actually moved into a care facility.
“Experience is the post-enrollment period of actually dealing with the new senior care facility,” the report said. “Change is when the loved one’s circumstance warrants changing from one type of care or facility to another.”
CRI said company websites and search engines are the most critical digital marketing assets in the consumer’s decision-making process. Even though potential buyers do not rely on branded social media to consider or choose senior care facilities, “they do point to social media communities as important support mechanisms for handling the understanding of the selection process and coping with the emotional stress of placing a loved one in care.”
It is this emotional nature of aiding a loved one’s transition to care that spills over into the tone of these conversations swirling around seniors housing and care.
“While the sentiment of the conversation around senior care is mostly neutral (56 percent), there exists more negative conversations (32 percent) than positive (12 percent), which can be attributed to a variety of factors like the stress of moving a loved one out of their home,” CRI said.
Still, CRI said, this very lack of knowledge about this segment of the health care and housing marketplace is a real opportunity for providers to fill a vacuum.
“Even though our research indicates they consumers are under-informed about product and service offerings, and they are being underserved by the senior care brands in critical decision-making phases of the selection process, the opportunity for senior care marketers and brands to connect with prospective customers, clients, or patients is ripe,” the report said.