Millennials and Mobile Begin to Drive Health Care Marketing

It is estimated there are 80 million Millennials, or adults between 18- and 37-years-old, in the US population. This segment is now 7 percent larger than the Baby Boomers, with spending of roughly $1.3 trillion dollars annually–-and that is just the beginning. As they rise through the career ranks, their economic influence is projected to grow exponentially. In addition, they will eventually be purchase influencers (if not outright decision makers) for two additional generations—their children and their parents. Given that influence, many industries are feeling the need to shift their marketing priorities from Boomers, and even Gen Xers, squarely toward the Millennial market. Health care organizations would be wise to follow suit.

In recognition of the vast amount of options available in the health care marketplace, there has been a philosophical shift among providers in recent years, with “patients” now seen as “consumers.”  Like all marketers, health care organizations must adapt and find ways to connect their services with this important target.  We saw this most recently with the Affordable Care Act and the targeting of the “Young Invincibles”. Millennials were targeted heavily because their young, healthy population was needed to offset the cost of premiums for older segments to make the program a economically viable.  While the enrollment totals and the success of the campaign are still being determined, it was one of the most visible efforts the health care industry has seen in targeting the young. And while these efforts were based on actuarial data, as Millennials mature and care for their own families, their importance—and the need for health care marketers to connect with them—will only increase.

To successfully reach them and build lasting relationships, it’s important to understand their beliefs, expectations and behaviors.  It’s no secret Millennials are “digital natives,” growing up with Internet as an important part of their lives.  This has resulted in digital connectedness like no other generation.  This hyper-connectedness leads to the expectation of immediate results and a wealth of information gathering at their fingertips.

Mobile use means micro interactions and fast results are key
Millennials are a “mobile first” generation.  According to a Pew Center study, nearly 85% of young adults use their cell phones to go online and half of the audience uses them to gather information.  When it comes to mobile use, information is retrieved promptly and seamlessly, and Millennials are used to receiving their information this way.  We can expect them to expect the same when they retrieve health care information.  It must be prompt and seamless, meaning minimal scrolling and page loading time.  Having a mobile site isn’t enough anymore–-hospital system websites need to mobile-optimized, allowing for a efficient, enjoyable and informative experience.  Long forms to fill out and excessive scrolling are no longer tolerated, as young patients want to give and receive information as efficiently as possible. 

Millennials’ short-wait expectations extend well beyond their use of technology. Same-day scheduling for clinic appointments and urgent care visits are increasingly expected.  Cleveland Clinic has recognized this opportunity and has started offering same-day appointments to be scheduled by phone or email.  Currently, they provide over 1 million same-day appointments each year.

NEXT WEEK: Millennials and reputation management