7 Strategies for Healthcare Marketing to Gen Z Consumers 

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

They are barely 21. They’re the first digital natives. And…they are very stressed. 

Gen Z, or Zoomers, are significantly impacted by today’s news, politics, culture, and climate issues. In the latest survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association, Gen Zers reported high stress levels, more than any other group, including millennials and Gen Xers. 

What’s on their minds? They are stressed about everything from mass shootings to sexual harassment and assault reports. Gen Zers are also more likely (37 percent) than other generations to report their mental health as “fair or poor.” 

But there is hope. Despite all the stress, this generation is smart about mental health and seems to be open about asking for help

As a hospital, multilocation practice, or an addiction facility, your products and marketing efforts can be strategically tailored to reach these young adults. 

By showing that you understand what they want and need right now, you can connect with and nurture Zoomers into lifetime consumers.

In this blog post, I share persona insights about this rising generation and provide seven effective strategies for marketing to Gen Z in the healthcare industry. 

Gen Z Consumers: Birth Years, Characteristics, and How to Reach them 

Like the generations before them, Generation Z has joined healthcare consumerism by expecting instant, online ease as everyone else. But, unlike millennials, Gen Xers, and boomers, you can’t reach this group just anywhere – primarily through the channels of traditional marketing.

Here’s who they are, what they want from healthcare, how to market to Gen Z, and why you can’t reach them through traditional channels. 

Who is Gen Z?

Gen Z adults are born between 1997 and 2012 and make up more than a quarter (27%) of the population – that’s about 72 million people. 

With the oldest of this new generation of consumers just turning 25, they represent over $140 billion in spending power, according to Rolling Stone.  

Gen Zers and the millennials who came before them make up more than half of the US population and have become influential across all ages and socioeconomic statuses. Young people help connect consumer-based industries to what’s trending and what’s not. In this digital world, they are the harbingers of change in health systems— how to communicate, attract and care for the future patient. 

And, they’re a few years away from no longer being covered under their parents’ health insurance.

How to Market to Gen Z: What Zoomers Want and Don’t Want from Healthcare

According to Fierce Healthcare, Gen Z was raised on social media, smartphones, and apps and prefers service transactions with minimal human interaction or waiting in lines. 

As with millennials that preceded them, Gen Z’s are dissatisfied with the effectiveness of their care. This group is likely to have a primary care provider (45% do not) and more likely to google their condition, use walk-in clinics, or opt for the convenience of urgent care or concierge centers when needed.

And while they are also more likely to lean on their online community for advice in their healthcare journey, they also prefer mobile-friendly apps or sites that allow them to interact with their provider on a more personal level directly. 

Like millennials, these younger patients vote with their feet for more convenient, accessible, and transparent care services. They are not loyal to their providers and choose based on convenience, price, and speed in their digital interactions. 

Instead of asking their doctor, they are more likely to seek advice from social media or their network for answers. The excellent news about Generation Z marketing is they are open to new care delivery models. They also want a trusted advisor in a provider and brand they can believe in and who can meet them on their terms to empower them toward holistic health and wellness. 

Digital Natives: Why Traditional Marketing Won’t Cut it

As the first generation born into a world with the internet and smart devices, they spend more time online than any other population. As a result, they expect their healthcare experience to be digital, too. 

Mobile is everything when marketing to Gen Z. They spend as much time on their phones as older generations do watching television, so they are not tied to time or location, whether on their smartphones or laptops. They can watch whatever they want, wherever they want, and have a low tolerance for wordy ads or lengthy commercial interruptions.

Along with a mobile experience, consider “snackable” high-impact content such as video on social. According to Quinn Thomas, YouTube is the single most popular video platform for Gen Z

You can reach and interact with this group on social media along with short videos. Generation Z seeks full autonomy over their health, relying heavily on social media and online reviews. As such, Generation Z marketing must reflect this generational shift in behavior. 

7 Effective Ways to Connect with and Nurture Your Gen Z Audience

1)      Develop a trustworthy and transparent brand.

Authenticity is key when marketing to Gen Z. Through authenticity, you will earn their trust. According to McKinsey & Company, “the search for truth is at the root of all Generation Z’s behavior.” 

Generation Z values individual expression and makes purchase decisions with a conscience. Younger consumers care about a brand’s reputation and who they associate with. They are willing to pay a premium for personalized offerings or brands that embrace causes they care about. 

To develop that trust, they want to know what a brand stands for and its purpose. As a counterpoint, they are also willing to stop buying brands immersed in scandals, according to McKinsey & Company.

In healthcare marketing, transparency can manifest in many ways, including:

    • Provide a responsive website
    • Provide price transparency
    • Have a clear mission, vision, and values: What does your brand stand for, and how does it live up to its mission and vision statements?
    • Develop empathetic content with an emotional connection
    • Have consistent, reliable branding 

2)      Understand the new definition of consumption. 

For healthcare organizations marketing to Gen Z, it’s essential to understand this group’s relationships with consumption. According to McKinsey, they consider consumption as access rather than possession, as an expression of individual identity, and as a matter of ethical concern.

According to McKinsey, a big part of how they consume is evaluating a broad range of information before purchases. As a result, offering a website with a wealth of expert information creates a space for them to do just that. 

Along with information, Gen Zers view consumption as having access to products or services, “not necessarily owning them.” Here’s where health and wellness offerings such as memberships and subscriptions can appeal to Zoomers who are looking for products as “services.”

3)      Customize your digital marketing to each channel.

Digital marketing is the primary way to reach this target audience. Over and above having a solid presence online, your digital marketing efforts should include a blend of search and display advertising, social media marketing, search engine optimization, content marketing, reputation management, email marketing, and more. 

But simply investing in digital marketing won’t cut it for this group. To create meaningful connections with Zoomers, you’ll need to tailor your messaging to each channel. Dive deeper into how to market to Gen Z by creating content customized to each channel. Social media is not compatible with traditional media tactics – and each social media channel has its own rules of engagement, so be sure to tailor the message within the context of the medium.

4)      Consider healthcare Influencers.

Peer influencers offer both relatability and inspiration. Gen Z is nearly twice as likely as millennials to make a purchase based on a recommendation from a peer influencer, according to Rolling Stone. In fact, they offer more appeal than celebrity influencers. So be sure to spend your investment wisely when appealing to this cohort. Recommendations from friends are their most trusted source for learning about products and brands. 

5)      Dive deeper into personas.

More accepting and open-minded, almost half of Gen Z are minorities and will soon become the largest ethnically diverse generation in American history. This means that you can’t expect the same campaign to resonate with all Zoomers. Instead, dive deeper with demographics and target audience data to create messaging that reaches segmented groups.

6)      Be accessible.

According to McKinsey, “Technology has given young people an unprecedented degree of connectivity among themselves and with the rest of the population.” For healthcare organizations marketing to Gen Z, treating patients as partners in their care is key. 

Online conversations and interactions greatly influence their decisions, according to Quinn Thomas. Accessibility to their physicians, whether through text or social, has also proven to build closer relationships with the younger patients.

7)      Define your brand and value proposition.

Interestingly, this younger generation favors practical evaluation before purchases. They are careful and conscious consumers and prefer access over possession. Rather than fit in like their older label-conscience cohorts, they value brands and products that showcase their individuality. Making it clear your brand aligns with their values goes farther than name prestige.

Strategic Generational Marketing 

Digital natives and truth seekers, Gen Z is a promising generation that deserves our time to research and understand. As you strengthen your marketing campaigns, consider these seven tips to help meet these generational shifts.

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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