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Targeted Marketing Is Key to Engaging Millennial Consumers

smartphone-opening-up-possibiltiesManaging the health and wellbeing of America’s aging population often dominates the health care spotlight. So much so that it is easy to lose sight of the fact that millennials actually outnumber baby boomers by 11 million people. What’s more, according to a CNN report, while 72 percent of baby boomers are white, the millennial generation is significantly more diverse. As a result, health care providers and other organizations working toward higher levels of patient engagement must better understand this key segment of health care consumers.

Traditional consumer segmentation offers only part of the story. To develop successful marketing strategies for millennials, health care organizations need to leverage psychographic segmentation to identify values, beliefs, emotions, personality, interests and lifestyles that motivate individuals within the larger millennial population.

Health Care and Millennials: The Big Picture

Let’s start with the obvious — millennials are digital natives.

While the adoption of health care technology has been a struggle for providers, technology has always been an integral part of millennials’ lives. Thanks to the Internet, smart phones and social media, they have grown up in an always-on, instant access world — and they expect health care to fit into that mold. What’s more, 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, health care providers must find new ways to engage these consumers.

Overcoming Millennial Skepticism

There’s not an easy fix. As pointed out in a recent blog post, while many people would call the doctor at the first sign of an illness, Millennials are 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 health care.

The numbers are revealing:

  • Only 29 percent of millennials believe the health care system is better now than it was a few decades ago.
  • 49 percent of millennials believe the problems with health care 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. 

Clearly, driving engagement within a consumer segment that is so disconnected from the traditional definition of health care will be a challenge.

Millennials as a group take a more holistic approach to health and wellness. The MedCityNews blog points out that “for Millennials, healthcare is not a separate sphere, financially, emotionally, or physically; it’s not about what happens at the doctor’s office, it’s about small, everyday choices and actions.” They are willing to seek out health care in non-traditional settings— a walk-in clinic in the grocery store, online support groups— and health care providers must meet them where they are. In addition, Millennials have grown up with personalized experiences from retailers. They expect solutions that are “right-sized” for individuals, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

However, Millennials should not be taken for a totally homogenous population of like-minded consumers.  There are segments within the Millennial population that approach health and wellness in very different ways. 

A key part of the Communispace study is that it employed c2b solutions’ psychographic segmentation model to analyze these sub-population differences, grouping Millennials 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 is the percentage of Millennials classified as Willful Endurers relative to non-Millenials in the study:


"Healthcare Without Borders: How Millennials are Reshaping Health and Wellness”; Lerner, K. Communispace, Nov 2014"

The Willful Endurer segment poses unique challenges for motivation and patient activation, but it can be done. c2b solutions has demonstrated that segment-specific propositions and messaging can persuade even the most reactive population to enroll in highly involved disease intervention programs.

The use of psychographic segmentation can help health care organizations ranging from hospitals and insurers to pharmaceutical companies and mHealth developers target specific groups within the Millennial segment to build greater engagement. As the post says, “Serving Millennial consumers means working with, not against, [their] reality.” 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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