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How to Engage Millennial Healthcare Consumers in 2018


When we wrote about engaging Millennial consumers back in January 2015, the fledgling healthcare marketplace had just finished its first flight. Three years later, healthcare in the U.S. is still in flux, but one fact hasn’t changed.   

Given that Millennials actually outnumber Baby Boomers by 11 million people, healthcare providers, health insurers and other healthcare-related organizations need tangible insights into this generation. Traditional consumer segmentation offers only part of the story.

We know, for example, that the Millennial population is far more diverse than the predominantly white population of baby boomers. In fact, William Frey, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institute has said, “… the most defining characteristic of the members of this unique generation, as the country evolves demographically, is their racial diversity.”

But their diversity extends beyond race. To develop successful marketing strategies for Millennials, healthcare organizations need to take a two-pronged approach: Address the principal characteristics of the generation as a whole and leverage psychographic segmentation to identify values, beliefs, emotions, personality, interests and lifestyles to engage and motivate individuals within the Millennial population. (More on this later.)


Meeting Millennial Expectations

Thanks to the internet, smartphones and social media, Millennials have grown up in an always-on, instant access world— and they expect healthcare to fit into that mold. This more connected point of view has led to clear generational differences:

  • Millennials are comfortable with collecting, curating and sharing data
  • Millennials are less committed to traditional institutions
  • Millennials live in the moment
  • Millennials demand greater work/life balance

With such values shaping Millennial behaviors, healthcare providers must find better ways to engage these consumers. Speaking to Fierce Healthcare last year, Kelly Faley, vice president of digital marketing for Sharp HealthCare, remarked, “Millennials expect an Amazon experience, and we need to move to more modern ways of engaging with them.”  

Tools like patient engagement platforms that enable healthcare providers to communicate with Millennials via text, social media or email are far more likely to initiate a response than the traditional robo-calls used by many organizations. Enabling online appointment scheduling and bill payment also meshes with the Millennial expectations.  

Millennial skepticism is another hurdle healthcare providers must overcome. Millennials are still, as MedCityNews noted back in 2015, more likely “to call Dr. Google or Dr. Mom before calling a healthcare professional.” The statement is based on results of the Healthcare without Borders study conducted by Communispace, an Omnicom company, which explored millennial and non-millennial consumer attitudes toward healthcare.

The numbers are revealing:

  • Only 29 percent of Millennials believe the healthcare system is better now than it was a few decades ago.
  • 49 percent of Millennials believe the problems with healthcare today can be ascribed to the government.
  • Slightly more than 50 percent of Millennials visited a doctor’s office in the past year compared to nearly 75 percent of other generations.
  • 28 percent of Millennials admit to self-diagnosing and 36 percent admit they try to treat themselves at home before going to a doctor.
  • 53 percent of Millennials consider friends and family to be trusted sources of information and almost 25 percent called on friends or family for medical advice.
  • Almost 50 percent of Millennials rank maintaining good work/life balance as more important to their health and wellness than regular dental or medical exams. 

While driving engagement within a consumer segment that is so disconnected from the traditional definition of healthcare is a challenge, it isn’t insurmountable. Video can be an effective tool in healthcare organizations’ marketing kit. Millennials are three times more likely than Baby Boomers to watch a video on their mobile device, and 76 percent of Millennials follow companies or brands on YouTube.  

Likewise, telemedicine appeals to Millennials’ expectations for convenient, economical care. Marketing company Media Logic contends that Millennials could actually be the key to advancing telemedicine since they are five times more likely to adopt technology than older healthcare consumers.

Healthcare providers need to meet Millennials where they are—and that means non-traditional brick-and-mortar settings as well as online. In addition, millennials are accustomed to the  personalized experiences they have with retailers like Amazon, so healthcare providers need to move past the one-size-fits-all approach of the past.


Using Psychographic Segmentation to Deliver Personalized Healthcare

This expectation for personalized experiences means that healthcare providers cannot see Millennials as  a totally homogenous population of like-minded consumers. There are segments within the Millennial population that approach health and wellness in very different ways. 

As we noted in our original post, the Communispace study utilized c2b solutions’ psychographic segmentation model to analyze sub-population differences among Millennials, grouping them into c2b’s five distinct psychographic segments:

  • Self Achievers: The most proactive and wellness-oriented group, Self Achievers are ready to be in the driver’s seat, but appreciate directive guidance.  They are the most willing to “spend whatever it takes to be healthy.”
  • Balance Seekers: Balance Seekers are also proactive and wellness-oriented, but they downplay the role of healthcare professionals. They prefer having options, rather than being given a route to wellness already mapped out. A directive healthcare professional can be a turnoff for Balance Seekers – they prefer more suggestive approaches.
  • Priority Jugglers: Priority Jugglers tend to be less proactive and less engaged because they put other concerns ahead of personal health (e.g., job, family). They may require a higher level of interaction to keep them focused on healthy behaviors.
  • Willful Endurers: Willful Endurers are very independent and the least proactive about health and wellness. The challenge is to find ways to motivate them toward healthy living.
  • Direction Takers: As the name suggests, Direction Takers do not actively seek to drive their wellbeing, reacting only when necessary and then following the route that is prescribed.

The Communispace study found that millennials who fall into each of the five psychographic segments reflect the attitudes, beliefs and approaches of the general population falling into the same, respective segments. 

A significant difference surfaced by that research was a greater percentage of Willful Endurers among Millennials than other generations. While this poses a challenge when it comes to motivation and patient activation, c2b solutions has demonstrated that with better insights into this reactive segment, healthcare providers can develop more relevant, persuasive messaging and programs to engage Willful Endurers—at any age.  

The use of psychographic segmentation can help healthcare organizations ranging from hospitals and insurers to pharmaceutical companies and mHealth developers target specific groups within the Millennial segment to build greater engagement. Read our whitepaper on psychographic segmentation or contact c2b solutions today to arrange a consultation.

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


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