DTC ramps up for ad onslaught

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Pharmaceutical marketers that represent the 50-plus crowd in their ads as vibrant and active are right on track, says Tom Lom, exec VP and worldwide account director at Saatchi & Saatchi, New York.

"Yet you tend to see the same lady bending over working in the garden. It's not inappropriate. It's just that there's an executional sameness to a lot of work," he says.

"Companies should try to get a bit deeper into what some of the emotional issues are surrounding the people with each of those health conditions."

After all, the mature market is spending more than $20 billion on prescription drugs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and marketers should take better care to appeal to mature market needs.

"With the baby-boomer generation approaching 50-plus, the pharmacy industry is gearing up," says Christine Fernandez, pharmaceutical and biotech analyst at Frost & Sullivan. "The age of consumerism has hit the pharmaceutical market."

DRUGS ARE LARGEST EXPENSE

After health insurance premium payments, prescription drugs are the single largest expense for seniors, accounting for 17% of their total spending, according to a 2000 AARP report. A BLS study says in 1998 people older than 55 spent an average of $590 on drugs per household. By contrast, people aged 25-to-34 averaged $143 per household.

People older than 50 purchase 77% of all prescription products, says Joe Papa, president of Pharmacia Corp. North America. He expects aging baby boomers will have a significant effect on the U.S. healthcare system.

To get in touch with this population segment, Pharmacia is working with Age Wave Impact, a consulting company that specializes in the 50-plus market.

"We take this group very seriously, from designing packaging that is user-friendly to creating DTC marketing that meets the needs of customers over 50," Mr. Papa says.

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