A new generation is coming of age, which is big news for healthcare marketers. Members of Generation Z, currently in their teens and early 20s, will soon be taking charge of their own healthcare for the first time in their lives. Within the next few years, Gen Zers will stop qualifying for health insurance coverage through their parents and will become more independent, financially and otherwise.
While Gen Zers may want the same essential things any healthcare consumer wants—quality, accessible care from trusted individuals and affordability—they were raised in an entirely different environment than the Gen Xers or Millennials who preceded them, and have a different worldview as a result. Marketers will need to quickly adapt their messaging to this cohort of engaged and discerning consumers, especially as Gen Zers now account for about 20% of the U.S. population and have more than $140 billion in collective spending power.
Consider this list of six important messages to convey when marketing healthcare products and services to Generation Z:
Members of Gen Z seek out convenience in all areas of their lives. When it comes to healthcare, this means they are more likely to turn to friends and family for health advice, research conditions on their own, or use walk-in clinics or urgent care centers. It also means they are less willing than previous generations to be left on hold or to sit in waiting rooms for long periods of time. Gen Zers are less concerned than their predecessors with keeping medical data in strictly regulated environments. They grew up with smartphones and like to control many aspects of their lives digitally. As a result, they will seek out mobile apps that allow for effortless information sharing between providers, quick appointment scheduling, and easy access to test results.
Practical and analytical Gen Zers tend to view consumption less as a matter of owning goods than of having access to them. They will gravitate toward subscription and membership services when those services afford them more options and flexibility than a one-time purchase, or if they are ultimately more cost effective.
As the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in U.S. history, Gen Z is open-minded and has a high degree of cultural sensitivity. They care that the products and services they use are inclusive, sensitive, and ethical, and will lean toward messaging that reflects those qualities. Gen Zers are also skilled researchers and are more willing to drop companies involved in scandals that go against their values than any other generation. They seek brands and companies that include diversity throughout their advertising campaigns as well. Members of Gen Z want to be seen, heard, and felt.
Like their Millennial forebears, Gen Zers place a strong emphasis on holistic healthcare, which encourages individuals to recognize the whole person: physical, mental, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual, as opposed to reductionist healthcare. As they face a fraught present and uncertain future, Gen Zers are also one of the most stressed-out generations. This means that when it comes to choosing healthcare providers and services, they will seek out options that take into account mental and emotional, as well as physical well-being. They will look for healthcare providers and services that view them not as a patient or a diagnosis, but as a person with complex and individual needs.
Gen Zers grew up on social media and are entrenched in influencer culture. More so than any other generation, members of Gen Z are highly likely to make purchases based on recommendations from influencers. Consumption, to them, is a reflection of their personal identity or brand. Accordingly, they will seek out products and services that reflect the image and values of that brand. This means that they are more willing to pay for personalized products, or products that reflect their sense of individuality.
As the first digital natives, Gen Zers are more tech savvy and media literate than any generation that preceded them. They will seek out healthcare options that align with their values and demonstrate trustworthiness. As they take charge of their own healthcare, Gen Zers will expect to make decisions on their own terms. This means they will look for providers and services that offer price transparency, comprehensive treatment options, and a transparent and interactive decision-making process.