By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer
OK – here it is: Successfully marketing to Millennials—appealing to and attracting this major audience group—requires a totally new approach. For the most part, the customary ways-and-means of reaching this target audience completely misses the mark. As a result, they are the most difficult segment to market to effectively.
Leave the challenges of an old-school perspective and doctor-centric operations to the competition. Begin with a fresh-and-flexible attitude about your healthcare delivery systems and your marketing messages. This needs to be a clean-slate approach, so don’t restrict your thinking.
There is some slight inconsistency, but, generally, the 18 to 34-age range is the most common grouping among researchers. Regardless of the brackets, however, here’s why this crowd is worthy of a major marketing pursuit. Millennials:
- Represent the largest population cohort in the US; about 25 percent of the population
- By some estimates, are the biggest cohort in US history
- Have the strongest buying power — somewhere north of $200 billion
- Have a projected annual buying power that is expected to collectively exceed all other groups
Why marketing to Millennials is worth the change…
Today, Millennials represent an extremely attractive—but hard to reach—target audience. Given their size and buying power, Millennials are quickly becoming a dominant force in healthcare delivery. As they reach their prime working and spending years they will have a dramatic economic impact.
According to Goldman Sachs research, they “are poised to reshape the economy; their unique experiences will change the ways we buy and sell, forcing companies to examine how they do business for decades to come.” From a fresh planning perspective, consider:
- Millennials personify the digital age, never having been without a computer or new technology
- Their affinity for technology is reshaping the retail space. Product and service information are always available. [AIMIA. Born this Way: US Millennial Loyalty Survey]
- Millennials often buy maximum convenience at the lowest cost
- They are used to instant access and immediate answers
Attitudes about wellness, healthy living, and healthcare delivery are shaped, in part, by being “digital natives.” Healthcare decisions are driven in part by geographic proximity, immediate access, and peer reviews and comparisons. It’s their nature to expect providers to also be digitally connected and technologically enabled.
A positive perspective for Millennials is that wellness “is a daily, active pursuit. They’re exercising more, eating smarter and smoking less than previous generations. They’re using apps to track training data, and online information to find the healthiest foods. And this is one space where they’re willing to spend money on compelling brands.” [monitoringthefuture.org via Goldman Sachs]
Today’s marketing decisions are about making operational and marketing changes that put you in front of this important audience. It’s about a willingness to make changes that appeal to this mindset. (Plus there are probably things that your competition isn’t doing or isn’t willing to do…yet.) Some examples would include:
- Active dialog and discussion channels about pertinent health issues
- Convenience is an important new currency
- Demonstrations of practical affordability in health care service
- Digital communications between patient and provider via email/text
- Immediate or same day appointment at convenient times
- Open interaction, recommendations, and reviews among peers and influencers
- Patient portals or online appointment selection, bill paying, records access, lab results, etc.
- Reliance upon, and regular use of, digital advertising and marketing channels
While the target audience is attractive, it is also elusive. Millennials are more challenging to reach than Baby Boomers, as one comparison. In addition to being harder to convince in the first place, this cohort is also likely to be less loyal. They are more open to convincing competitive messages and to changing providers.
A major rethinking of healthcare’s traditional, provider-centric delivery systems is needed to get in front of this audience and to be ahead of the competition. And the changes to a new consumerism are needed right now.