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Health Marketing by Proxy: Communicating with Hispanic Family Caregivers

05/12/2015 10:54AM | 5610 views

By 2050, the U.S. population above age 65 is projected to increase from one-seventh to one-fifth of the total population.  The Hispanic 65+ demographic is projected to follow suit, growing from 7 to 20%  during the same period. 

Hispanic elderly rely on family caregivers much more than on outside support or medical care.  The majority of Hispanic caregivers (83%) care for their own family members, including 23% who care for their mother and 13% who care for their father.  Savvy marketers should take into account the influential position of family caregivers and recognize that they’re often the key decision maker when it comes to matters involving their subjects’ health.  Current efforts on behalf of marketers to target caregivers have been ineffective.  Hispanic caregivers consistently report a greater need for health-related services yet are lacking in formal support when compared to non-Hispanic White caregivers.  They are the most likely to want help and information, but the least likely to seek it; 65% have not searched for solutions to caregiving challenges.

Companies looking to reach Hispanic family caregivers should provide accessible and culturally-relevant information, training and support that are: easy to understand, family-based, and community-based.  Content marketing, recommendations, and community education events will be welcomed by Hispanic family caregivers.  They believe training on caregiving skills would be helpful (80%), but most (53%) cannot afford professional help, citing a household income less than $30,000.

Reaching Hispanic family caregivers is best achieved through a variety of channels. Consider that only 29% of have searched for information online.  They are also more likely than non-Hispanic caregivers to use other sources, such as books, brochures, radio, TV, or community organizations.  However, although Hispanic caregivers know helpful information is “out there somewhere” they admit to not knowing how to access it.  They most commonly look for information from professionals (81%), family and friends (66%), government agencies (49%), and disease-specific organizations (37%).

As they reach out to Hispanic caregivers, marketers need to fully understand family dynamics and ensure that their approach is culturally relevant.  Hispanics value filial obligation, reciprocity, and respect for the elderly, and believe caregiving is a fulfilling duty.  In contrast, Hispanics believe the non-Hispanic populations “abandon” elders to external care services.  Hispanic caregivers generally mistrust outside help, and need to retain a sense of control and involvement.  They want services that address the care recipients’ needs and rarely mention their own needs as caregivers.

For many (25%) Hispanic family caregivers, lack of time is an important challenge. Two-thirds of them are married, and they’re also more likely to have children than non-Hispanic White caregivers.  Brands should recognize and acknowledge this important challenge and emphasize the time-saving conveniences of their propositions, and how these will allow caregivers to do a better job.

Marketing information should be in Spanish or bilingual, as even highly acculturated immigrants often prefer discussing family care in Spanish.  78% of Hispanic family caregivers believe having services in Spanish is important, yet many are unsatisfied with the quality of available Spanish-language information. The information must also be easy to understand, given that 65% of Hispanic family caregivers only have high school or lower educations and 31% have low health literacy.

Hispanic caregivers value taking care of their family members but may not be able to afford necessary resources and also face unique challenges, including lack of information. Marketers seeking to benefit from the growing elderly Hispanic population should become relevant to caregivers by addressing these issues.  As marketers raise awareness about how their products and services help the elderly, it’s also important to emphasize that these, in turn, also help caregivers provide better care.  Marketers seeking to establish a relationship with Hispanic caregivers should reach out to them through professionals, community organizations, events, and multiple mediums to provide simple, easy to understand and accessible information and recommendations. Education and awareness would likely increase sales, as they are positively correlated with using health maintenance, preventive medicine and community-based long-term services. 

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