Reaching the Hard-to-Reach Millennial Audience

By Stewart Gandolf, Chief Executive Officer

[Conclusion of a two-part series. Refer to Part One: King of the Hill: Healthcare Marketing and the Millennial Mindset.]

Healthcare marketing plans by doctors, hospitals and communications executives have been reshaping their strategies and tactics for greater effectiveness with America’s largest demographic group--labeled The Millennials.

Reaching this highly diverse and well-educated group is inherently different than techniques appropriate to older generations such as Baby Boomers. As a primary target audience, Millennials can be hard-to-reach. We continue our discussion of important considerations that require a fresh perspective about healthcare and healthcare marketing methods.

The appeal of everything tech. In addition to smartphones—and never having had to adapt or adjust to technology—Millennials are predisposed to see techno-progress, apps/gadgets, and innovation in general as a natural up-tick in daily living and lifestyle. What another age group might regard as a near-magic tech breakthrough may be less amazing/appealing to Millennials (unless the utility, value and benefits are apparent.)

The quest for the greatest value. Individual value systems of the Millennial crowd tend to favor those services, brands and messages that deliver the greatest value for their expense. This can also take the form of products, services, and even ideas that add value to their lives in general. Research finds they prefer communications—via social media, blogs, websites, etc.—that delivers useful, new and pertinent information and/or links to social causes. Advances in medical technology, for Millennials, may be accepted as routine, and not necessarily a strong point of differentiation.

Adapt to the diversity factors. Better than 40 percent of this cohort are non-white and about one in four speak a language other than English at home, the US Census Bureau reports. That characteristic is even higher in some states. Health care delivery, as well as marketing and advertising messages, need to be precisely targeted and consider both language and media selection.

Internet, definitely. Friends, OK. Traditional media…no so much. “When it comes to the one thing that Millenials cannot live without,” according to a 2014 Trust and Attention survey, “the Internet topped a best friend, whereas advertising is universally held in low regard.” With regard to issues of trust, “Millennials considered news reports, company websites and friends on social media as trustworthy sources of information. They trust their closest friends the most, and advertising and sales people the least.” For healthcare marketing, consider how to speak from within the audience.

Tell, don’t sell. Major brand messages and advertising that resonates with Millennials is tailored to tell a compelling benefit-story through testimonials, social proof techniques and peer-user experiences. Heavy-handed advertising pitches are immediately suspect, while the apparent endorsement of other Millennials like themselves carries greater weight. In addition, there’s a greater intimacy factor at work in that Millennials are receptive to establishing and maintaining relationships where there is a genuine sense of caring and value.

In contrast with the Boomer generation, effectively reaching and successfully engaging Millenials requires a clear understanding of their mindset and a fresh perspective on how, when and where to deliver healthcare’s messages, with greater reliance on Internet and mobile channels.

Stewart Gandolf, MBA

Part One is available here: King of the Hill: Healthcare Marketing and the Millennial Mindset.]

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