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Just Who Is the “Average” American Health Care Consumer?


Multi ethnic group of Americans in front of a flagIf you’ve been wondering just how it is that the 2013 c2b Consumer Diagnostic is able to offer an accurate picture of the American health care consumer, take a look at the breakdown of the average respondent to our national study (n=4,878 adults age 18+):


By and large, our data closely resembles the numbers from the 2011 US Census report:

  • 12% of respondents were 18-24 years old
  • 18% of respondents were 25-34, 17% were 35-44
  • 21% of respondents were 45-54
  • 16% of respondents were 55-64
  • 16% of respondents were 65 or older

Nearly half the population is at or approaching retirement, representing a significant opportunity for healthcare plan providers marketing to Medicare-eligible consumers.


Based on average income, respondents were largely middle class Americans with approximately 23% earning between $25,000—$49,000 per year. Slightly higher than the national average, but certainly representative of the consumer most organizations within the health care industry serve.

Family Size and Structure

Just over half of those surveyed were married (living together) and 27% reported being single (never married), both in line with Census data. As with the national average, most respondents (92%) were living in households of 4 or fewer people with the average household size around 2.55 members.

Our data provides a potentially valuable nuance unavailable in the Census—we allowed the 4% of respondents who were “living with a partner” to differentiate themselves in our data.


Our sample pool skews slightly more educated than the general US population which is unsurprising given that the survey was conducted online.

Responses were predicated upon a person’s having access to a computer and the capability to complete on online market research survey.  Whereas the US Census reported 9.6% of Americans having had post-graduate education, 16% of our respondents have the same.

Demographic and disease data aren’t enough.

If you have been trying to develop your health care organization’s marketing strategy based on US Census Bureau information about demographics, you’ve probably noticed by now that demographics won’t tell you much.

Sure, we can extrapolate from average age and family size the fact that America’s birth rate hit an historic low in 2011, but it can’t tell us what families value.

Demographics tell us that the ethnic and linguistic makeup of the nation is changing.

Overall, non-Hispanic whites still constitute a declining majority of the national population, whereas minority African-American and Latino populations are growing. But does that growth mean that increasing your marketing to these populations will bring results?

If your region is seeing growth in its Latino population, can you produce a few Spanish-language ads, open the doors and watch the patients flood in? Can you market more to single professionals with no children and hope that will translate into more revenue? Of course not.

Census data is just a picture of superficial differences; it doesn’t tell who people are or why they do what they do.

The same is true of CDC and National Institutes of Health data; while these are useful for showing disease trends, they’re not going to help you reach the people you need to treat.

Knowing that obesity is a growing problem and significant cause of morbidity and mortality among Americans isn’t going to help you reduce its incidence. You need to know the cause of a given disease and how to affect decisions in those suffering from it.

So where can c2b help you? In refining your formula.

The c2b Consumer Diagnostic examines a range of psychographic segments, across demographic categories, income and education strata, and even specific disease conditions to help your organization get a feel not just for who your consumers are, but how they think.

The most targeted and effective marketing, in any industry, can be defined as a function.

Many organizations and businesses assume that that formula can be defined as  f(x) = y, where X is demographic/socioeconomic data, the function is your marketing acting with those demographic/socioeconomic points plugged in, and y is results. 

Organizations with robust behavioral data (e.g., medical claims data, retail shopper data) plug this into the function.  Still, this only tells WHAT consumers are doing, not WHY they are doing it.

But it isn’t that simple.

Our formula looks more like f [g(x)] = y

What does that represent? X still stands in for demographic/socioeconomic or behavioral factors, and f is your marketing plan, but your marketing plan should be enacted one psychographic analysis, g, has been applied.

Psychographic Segmentation and its Practical Application in Patient Engagement and Behavior Change


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