A new generation is coming of age, which is big news for health care marketers. Members of Generation Z, currently in their teens and early twenties, will soon be taking charge of their own health care 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 health care 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.
Here is a list of important messages to convey when marketing health care products and services to Generation Z:
- Convenience — Members of Gen Z seek out convenience in all areas of their lives. When it comes to health care, 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 that they are less willing than previous generations to be left on hold or to sit in waiting rooms for long periods of time. 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.
- Access — 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.
- Empathy — As the most racially and ethnically diverse generation in US 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. 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.
- Holistic health — Like their Millennial forebears, Gen Zers place a strong emphasis on holistic health care, which encourages individuals to recognize the whole person: physical, mental, emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual, as opposed to reductionist health care. They will look for health care providers and services that view them not as a patient or a diagnosis, but as a person with complex and individual needs.
- Identity — Consumption, to Gen Zers, 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.
- Trust — As the first digital natives, Gen Zers are more tech savvy and media literate than any generation that has preceded them. They will seek out health care options that align with their values and demonstrate trustworthiness. As they take charge of their own health care, Gen Zers will expect to make decisions on their own terms. This means that they will look for providers and services that offer price transparency, comprehensive treatment options, and a transparent and interactive decision-making process.
Amanda Powers-Han is chief marketing officer of Greater Than One, a health care marketing agency.