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The Best Way to Reach Older Audiences

Older adults are often considered an underserved population; however, a great many of them need guidance from a qualified fitness professional. Recently, researchers studied how to market to this group.

They used three avenues—radio, newspaper and direct mail—to recruit older adults to participate in an at-home, DVD-based physical activity program. In addition to tracking which outlet garnered
the most traction, the researchers wanted to learn which was most cost-effective, based on response. The 6-month study focused on a target
population of 105,515 adults in central Illinois. While the research team could not make guarantees, they believed that all older adults in the area were exposed to at least one of the recruitment strategies.

Of those targeted, 563 expressed interest in the program; 383 were screened as eligible, and 307 enrolled. The researchers estimated that 81%–97% of enrollees viewed each monthly DVD over the 6-month program, indicating that those who signed up did in fact use it. Newspaper advertisements proved to be the most effective form of recruitment and were responsible for 222 of the total responses, at a cost of $78 per person enrolled.

While the response rate might seem dismal, the researchers believed the study itself was a success. “From a public health perspective, that may seem drastically low,” they explained in a press release. “However, one of the main arguments in our study is that the use of multiple indicators—and an appropriate denominator—is important to more accurately assess the degree to which the intervention reached at-risk older adults.”

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