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4 Factors Driving Consumer Choices in Senior Living

Posted by Claire Giesige on August 22, 2018     Senior Care & Living

What are your prospects looking for when searching for a senior living community? What’s most important to them?

Understanding how your prospects make decisions is key to a successful inbound marketing plan. Here’s what seniors are looking for in 2018.

4 Factors Driving Consumer Choices in the Senior Living Industry

1. Affordability and Financial Security

Key Takeaways: Cost is one of the most important factors in the senior living industry — people are hesitant to commit when they see the high costs of senior living. However, after some research, consumers are willing to pay for quality, as long as the community is financially stable and proves its worth.

In a 2017 research report on Consumer Preferences in Post-Acute and Senior Care, Advisory Board surveyed over 2,000 people to learn what was the most important criteria for them when making senior living decisions.

In the top 10 factors affecting their choices, cost-related issues came up in two of the top spots. In the No. 1 slot was that “the yearly cost to live in this community is lower than the average costs for other communities,” and it was closely followed by “the yearly cost to live in this community is average compared to other facilities” in fifth place.

For both assisted living and continuing care retirement communities, it’s important to demonstrate the value that accompanies the price tag.

Additionally, people researching senior living communities like CCRCs were also concerned about the financial stability of the community, as evidenced in MyLifeSite’s recent survey on what CCRC prospects are looking for.

“Two of these concerns stood out from the others in our survey’s responses: personal financial affordability and concerns about the overall financial viability of the community,” MyLifeSite president and co-founder Brad Breeding said.

Potential topics on affordability to address in your digital marketing content:

  • Services that are included vs. those that cost extra
  • Financial assistance available for assisted living
  • How to tell if a community is financially viable

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Related: Case Study: Lead Generation in the Senior Living Industry

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2. Continuum of Care

Key Takeaways: One of the first things your prospects are looking for when conducting an online search for a senior living community is level of care. Is the community capable of providing the care they or their loved one requires, both now and in the future?

In the Advisory Board’s 2017 research report that we mentioned above, the top 10 list of the most important decision-influencing factors included concerns about levels of care.

Respondents voiced interest in the following factors:

  • Assisted living and skilled nursing are available on the same campus, in case they are needed in the future.
  • If spouses need different levels of care, they can still live together within the community.
  • Other care services are available on-site, such as physical and occupational therapists and physicians.

Sometimes the terms for senior living types can be confusing for those seeking care. They might not know which option is right for them, let alone all the details surrounding what care is or is not included in each.

It’s important to make clear what type of community you are: assisted, independent, skilled nursing, memory care, respite care or a combination of two or more of these.

Give a clear outline of what a senior who qualifies for your community looks like, as well as a complete list of your services and capabilities. Not only will this provide helpful information for your prospects, but it also helps sort out any unqualified leads.

Potential topics on the continuum of care to address in your digital marketing content:

  • Levels of care available and included in community fees
  • How spouses and couples are accommodated
  • How changing health needs will be addressed

3. Programming and Activities

Key Takeaways: Seniors don’t want to live in a “nursing home.” You need to find a way to show them that your community is the opposite of the sterile, depressing “facility” they have in their heads. Your brand voice should convey to potential residents an active, social and enriching lifestyle.

Older adults moving into senior living communities are often afraid of losing their independence. They think moving out of their home will keep them from doing the things they are used to and enjoy doing. Their children, too, want to know mom or dad will be living a lifestyle that keeps them active and healthy — in mind, body and spirit.

So what exactly are they looking for? Respondents to the MyLifeSite survey said that the top three services and amenities they looked for were “the availability of lifelong learning classes, residents having a voice in management decisions and flexible transportation services or ride-share programs.”

Notice that lifelong learning showed up in the top spot. Lifelong learning is one of the fastest growing consumer trends in senior living, as potential residents are passionate about keeping their minds sharp and expanding their horizons, regardless of age. As Henry Ford said, “anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”

Does your community offer lifelong learning? Leverage that!

Potential topics on programming and activities to address in your inbound marketing content:

  • What does a typical day in a senior living community look like?
  • What activities are available to do on a daily basis?
  • Can residents suggest ideas for activities?

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Related: With Assisted Living, Who Is Your Real Online Audience?

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4. Environment and Location

Key Takeaways: Location, location, location. It holds true in the senior living industry. People either want to (a) move somewhere nearby or a place they have a connection to or (b) move to a new location that has a lot to offer.

When a senior moves out of their home, they tend to look for a new place as much like home as possible. They’ll also be looking at what the surrounding area has to offer, regardless of whether it’s close to their current home.

In a recent McKnight’s Senior Living article on the relationship location has on senior living communities, they cited research from AARP that found “most older adults want to stay in their homes, but even those planning to move into a senior living community should think about the neighborhoods where those communities are located.”

Potential residents will get the best picture of your senior living community when they visit. However, since a home-like environment is such an influencing factor when it comes to consumer choice in senior living, you don’t want to wait to until then to start showing off your community.

Your inbound digital marketing plan should include more than just written content. Pictures and videos are eye-catching and engaging, making them an ideal way to create interest in your community. Incorporate localized words into your content so you can be found in an internet search by prospects in your area.

Potential topics on location and environment to address in your digital marketing content:

  • Videos and pictures of the community and campus
  • Guides and descriptions of the surrounding area
  • Enticing offers to tour and visit

Building Your Marketing Plan Around These Insights

Inbound digital marketing is all about creating relevant and engaging content online. Unlike traditional marketing, it provides valuable information that builds trust between you and your prospects, thereby increasing your credibility.

Your website, social channels and all other online content should be addressing the four points above. Your community may deliver all of those things that are so important to your prospective residents, but is that clearly conveyed to each person who lands on your website?

If your content isn’t already addressing the things discussed in this blog, it’s time to fill in the gaps. If you aren’t providing the right information, they’ll be looking elsewhere online.

Get them to pick up the phone and call you by providing valuable resources that answer their questions, soothe their fears and paint an enticing picture of your community. Make them eager to learn more.

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