Healthcare marketing to millennials: six key insights
Published on 09 Dec 2017
By Emily South
Whilst many in the Healthcare world
have been focussed on the aging population and their effect on hard pressed
health providers or wondered how the “have it all” Baby Boomers will react to
diminishing personal health – the Millennials have crept up on us. Surprisingly
Millennials, born between the early 80’s and the end of the century will soon
surpass those Baby Boomers in actual numbers. This younger generation deﬁnes
itself by the technology advances made by their parents. They see “Technology
use” as what makes their generation unique and use their personal digital
devices everywhere from the bathroom to the bedroom, in the street and in the
ofﬁce. What’s more they rate a brand or service on its use of technology more
than on the brand itself, tending to be introduced to their brand or service
via linking, pinning or tweeting information on social media.
So what do pharmaceutical companies need to bear in mind when marketing to Millennials? Here are six insights that can help your brand gain traction with this generation.
Insight one: Provide Millennials with a higher purpose beyond the brand
Millennials have grown up with a
bombardment of information; spoilt for choice they have learned to actively
ﬁlter where they choose to focus their attention and on which device (parents
know this only too well). Marketers and their advertising only have a few
seconds before Millennials become their biggest fan or pull the plug. So what
does this mean for marketers?
Millennials genuinely want to be
inspired by brands, so brands need to give something back that will deliver on
a higher purpose. Pﬁzer launched their US campaign – “Because they share”,
which encourages young people to take selﬁes and post them online after
receiving their vaccine shot against meningococcal disease B. By tapping into
the idea of sharing, which ironically is what puts this group at increased risk
of this disease, the product is being promoted, but also empowering patients to
educate their peers on the importance of vaccination.
Insight two: Sell lifestyles
Not only are Millennials looking for a higher purpose, they are also seeking out experiences – considering this just as vital as establishing a career. The increased ability to travel more easily and cheaply means Millennials have a new sense of freedom and do not want their health concerns to hold them back. There is signiﬁcant opportunity for healthcare companies who are able to promote lifestyle services, whilst encouraging proactive engagement of patients in their own healthcare. The NHS in the UK have recently made a move in this direction by collaborating with Pharmacy2U to offer a home delivery prescription service. Hardly a unique idea, but one that will make a signiﬁcant difference for many patients, and in particular the Millennials, brought up on ASOS and Amazon.
Insight three: Help them ﬁnd ways to manage the pressure
They are feeling more pressure than
ever of ‘emerging adulthood’. Whilst they don’t worry about retirement or the
frailty of old age, they are anxious ‘in the moment’. They are concerned about
making the right decisions about their social status, career, an affordable
home, starting a family etc. In order to make a decision Millennials are happy
to spend hours searching online, in order to get it right.
Clearly none of us wish
pharmaceutical marketers to exploit this anxiety but rather help create smart
tools to support decision making: fast access to the right content and in an
engaging, digestible format. An example to follow would be MyFitnessPal, which
is the most popular health and ﬁtness app in the world; the app’s database of
more than six million foods makes it easy to track your diet, no matter what
you eat. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or put on muscle, the app helps
determine the best things to eat to meet your goals.
This is the kind of support
Millennials value and will ultimately pay back to those seeming to understand
Insight four: Support a more diverse doctor-patient relationship
The modern doctor-patient
relationship is complex and not deﬁned easily, but there is no doubt that
patients are contributing to the conversation more than ever. A side effect of
this newfound conﬁdence is to question how satisﬁed we are with this
relationship and Millennials will further this trend. Physicians are already
prey to subjective online star ratings such as on iWantGreatCare.org, and with
the integration of more objective measures such as quality metrics, seeking the
wisdom of the crowd will become the norm in order to seek trusted
Trust, however, is simultaneously going to compete with modern lifestyle demands; for common complaints and short-term illness Millennials will see greater value in the convenience of remote and on demand telehealth. Opportunities exist to continue supporting doctors with this evolving patient conversation and helping the Millennial healthcare professionals ﬁnd a modus operandi with the Millennial patients.
Insight ﬁve: Tap into the social power of online patient advocates
While the baby boomers are
sceptical as to whether online information is ‘true’ and ‘trustworthy’,
Millennials cite the anonymity and personal stories as key factors that render
social media a credible source of information for them. The result: patient
bloggers who share their personal story and experiences online have large
followings and signiﬁcant inﬂuence over which brands are, and are not ‘for you’
and – in the context of healthcare – which diseases need our help.
Take Stephen Sutton for example:
diagnosed with colorectal cancer at the age of 15, Stephen set up his own
website and blog, where he posted his ‘bucket list’ of things to do in his ﬁnal
months. His blog created unprecedented awareness of colorectal cancer and
within 1.5 years, over £4 million had been donated to a charity funding
research into this disease.
Healthcare companies should not
only be listening closely and embracing these brave individuals, but also
actively measuring and reacting to the market changes they are presaging.
Insight six: Integrate patients (and doctors) in your brand development
Despite their increased anxiety,
many Millennials will trump this with a strong sense of aspiration and a need
to do better than their peers; resulting in a strong momentum to improve and
innovate. But how can this best be capitalised upon by healthcare companies?
Merck took a leap forwards by running a longitudinal patient community alongside
the brand development of their new allergy products through to launch. This
enabled an ongoing engagement and innovation process, creating a fertile
discussion forum for uncovering insights and generative solution building.
With their reliance on technology, their openness to social media, their suspicion of unfettered capitalism and the older generation, the Millennials can appear a challenging audience. But by understanding them, engaging them and cocreating with them marketers will ﬁnd a willing and resourceful customer base.
About the author
Emily South is the Innovation
Director at THE PLANNING SHOP. With an active interest in people, stories and
ideas, Emily drives new product development for effective pharmaceutical brand
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