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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

H1N1 Vaccine: A Generation Gap?

Being vaccinated against Swine Flu is a good idea? Your answer to the question appears to be governed by when you were born.

A fascinating article in Media Post suggests that in the US there is a distinct generational divide with older people getting the jab whilst their kids rejecting the offer. Another article appeared in the New York Times.

The argument put forward for this age divide is that older people were brought up with having their arms pricked against all sorts of nasties (e.g. polio, diphtheria) whilst for the younger generation it is a new thing. The other explanation proposed is that older people have first hand experience of the results of epidemics whilst younger people have only read about them, or more likely, listened to a podcast.

I would add another reason for the difference. Younger people have been brought up in an era when the story of a person suffering side effects, or worse dying, following a jab, is national news in a matter of hours. This situated occurred in the UK, with most of the population unaware that within a week the real explanation for the death was revealed as having nothing to do with the jab – the damage was done.

Why on earth is this of any interest to marketers, other than on a personal basis?

This is what the author of the article says:
But, this generational divide has also exposed a marketing misstep that has broader implications for all marketers. Public health officials neglected to take these different generational experiences into consideration when developing their marketing communication efforts. Had they done so, they might have been more effective in encouraging younger parents to inoculate their children.

It's a lesson all marketers should heed -- whether they are marketing health care, financial services or consumer products. Generational first-hand experiences drive attitudes, beliefs and purchase decisions.
Beware, don’t take this generation differences stuff too far, but in this case I think it is a pretty good explanation. It would be fascinating to know what the situation is in the UK. Anybody out there with an answer? Dick Stroud

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