How to Reach the Next Generation of Healthcare Consumers

Social Listening

By Shana Raines

Healthcare marketing has undergone a major transformation as patients change their healthcare practices and preferences. In particular, younger healthcare consumers are changing the game through their desire to take an active role in decision-making for their health. A one-size-fits all approach with generic local TV buys is no longer sufficient to get new Gen-Z and Millennial patients to walk through your doors. Instead, it’s important to create an overarching strategy that resonates, and then tailor your messaging and marketing mix to subsets of consumers based on their values, motivations, and behaviors. To grow your reach with the younger consumer base, you need to:

  1. Pay to attention to where and how they engage
  2. Take an authentic approach to marketing
  3. Stay consistent with your message across channels 

Understanding where and how younger healthcare consumers engage

Younger generations have grown up with ease of access to information in a way that previous generations have not. They grew up with Google, in addition to their active use of social media and online experience sharing. However, just because you hear that younger generations are flocking to TikTok doesn’t mean that’s a quick or appropriate solution to reaching them. 

Avoid making assumptions. Instead, take the time to understand your target audience’s behaviors, values and lifestyle. How do they absorb content? Where do they go to find answers? How do they prefer to interact with brands? Where do they spend their time on and offline? Taking the time to truly pay attention and listen will go a long way in building rapport with these individuals. 

Additionally, it’s imperative that you understand what your patients want from their healthcare providers – what matters most to them? If they need flexibility in their schedule, highlight services such as telemedicine, online scheduling, and text message confirmations. Do they want to take an active role in their healthcare with a provider they know and trust? Highlight personalized healthcare services which allow them to make informed decisions with a trusted and consistent provider. Are they searching for experts that will solve their health challenges? Showcase your doctors’ credentials and areas of expertise. Be willing to embrace alternative methods of getting this information to the consumers in a way that is meaningful to them. 

Taking an authentic approach to marketing

The quickest way to push Gen-Z and Millennial patients away is to be overly performative. Instead, it’s important to be responsible with these consumers, showing the reality of pharmaceutical products, services and even the implications of improper healthcare. Being genuine is the key to building trust, which opens the door to having a longer-term patient relationship. 

But, don’t just tell them what you think they want to hear. If the message doesn’t match the experience, that’s a recipe for disaster. Remember, as I said in the section above, these generations are quick to share their experiences: good and bad. 

Additionally, be representative in your marketing. That means better reflecting the US population in your communications. If patients can’t see themselves and their loved ones in your healthcare brand, it doesn’t matter how much you invest: your reputation has been negatively affected. So while you should be focused on content first, you must not be lacking inclusivity.

Staying consistent with cross-channel messaging

To find success, it’s important to establish a baseline theme you want to get across and then curate according to your target audiences. Focus on the intent first, and the placement second. Lacking cohesion for your brand message across channels will result in confusion about who your brand is and what you stand for. 

That being said, don’t take the shortcut and assume the assets you created for display will be equally effective for Instagram. Instead, produce assets intentionally, in a way that allows your message to shine in the specific environment. If your creative format comes off as disruptive, it can be harmful even if it does increase your reach.

Adapt your consumer expectations

Lastly, keep the call-to-action reasonable given the channel and the generation. If you expect Gen-Z consumers to “call now” because they are accessing this information on their phones, you’re sorely mistaken. They very likely won’t take that step. So meet these individuals where they are, and be informed on how they prefer to communicate and take action.  

At the end of the day, being attentive, authentic, and consistent goes a long way with reaching the next generation of healthcare consumers. Following the recommendations above will be beneficial in getting you there. That being said, don’t underestimate the older generations or your existing patient base in pursuit of the next. Sure, they might sometimes struggle with technology, but they do have said technology and a support system to absorb content through these access points. Make sure you’re addressing your full patient population and creating an opportunity to establish a cross-generational relationship. 

Shana Raines is the VP of Account Strategy at Coegi, a digital marketing agency. She has extensive B2B and B2C marketing and advertising experience along with a successful track record in brand development strategies, global product launches and go-to-market strategies.