Two millennials looking at cell phone while exercisingIn board rooms, on conference calls, and inside marketing firms across the country, people everywhere are trying to crack the code to millennial marketing.

Marketers have been puzzling over this demographic for years. Still, as more millennials reach their 30s, become parents and caregivers, it’s time to get serious about millennials and healthcare marketing.

What is a millennial, anyway?

Opinions vary on what actually defines a millennial, also referred to as Generation Y. The U.S. Census Bureau describes it as individuals born from 1982-2000 (which includes more than 83 million citizens), while the Pew Research Center says a millennial is someone born between 1981-1996 (adding up to more than 71 million of those individuals).

However you define it, the fact is that millennials are expected to outnumber baby boomers in 2019. While baby boomers are still a crucial marketing demographic, the numbers show that millennials are going to be making a huge percentage of healthcare decisions in this country.

Pew research graph showing the population of millennials vs. baby boomers

Pew Research Center shows that millennials will surpass baby boomers in 2019. Image credit: Pew Research Center.

How can we market healthcare to millennials?

Although most millennials are children of baby boomers, their healthcare habits are much different. Many millennials don’t have a primary care provider. Instead, they gravitate toward walk-in clinics and fee-for-service models.

Digital tools are also a key part of this generation’s healthcare. They expect convenience through technology, whether it’s finding information, making an appointment or communicating with a doctor.

Keeping in mind these preferences, how can marketers reach this important group of healthcare consumers?

1. Remember your old friend email marketing

A recent study from The Social Habit showed that social media use among Americans 12-34 has dropped significantly in the last two years. According to the survey:

  • 62% of survey respondents said they used Facebook in 2019, compared to 79% in 2017
  • Only 29% of respondents said they used Twitter in 2019, compared to 36% in 2017

If social media marketing is losing steam, what’s a marketer to do? It’s time to go back to our old friend email marketing. In fact, a ClickZ study published in 2016 showed that 73% of millennials preferred to hear from their favorite brands via email.

When done right, email is a powerful content marketing channel. Consider revamping your old newsletter or creating an email campaign that draws people in with practical wellness content (more on that later).

Related: Why healthcare marketers shouldn’t overlook Generation X

2. Have a mobile- and tech-first mindset

Whether you’re thinking about content, communication or patient access, mobile should be top of mind if you want to reach a millennial audience.

Pew Research Center reports that 93% of millennials own a smartphone (compared to 68% of baby boomers). As industries like banking, retail and travel shift to a mobile-first experience, more consumers will expect the same of healthcare.

Think about how patients interact with your hospital or health system — can they easily make appointments online or with an app? Can they text or communicate directly with a provider? Most consumers expect these tech-first features in brands today, and healthcare is no exception. According to a Salesforce survey of millennials:

  • 60% want telehealth options
  • 71% want their doctor to use a mobile app
  • 74% select a doctor based on the ability to book appointments and pay bills online
Salesforce infographic on millennials and healthcare

A Salesforce survey showed millennials are more likely to support the use of technology in healthcare. Source: Salesforce.

3. Feature concise, trustworthy content

That mobile-first mindset is also important when thinking about millennials and healthcare content. While easy-to-read content is good for health literacy all around, these days consumers are looking for concise content that they can easily read on a mobile device.

Moreover, millennials are more likely to seek health information online, making it all the more important to provide trustworthy health content on your website or blog.

Reviews and ratings are also a key component to how this demographic researches healthcare, so consider adding these features to your physician bios.

Duke health physician bio directory

Reviews and ratings are a key feature that millennials look for in online healthcare content, especially when searching for a physician. This Duke Health provider directory includes ratings and the ability to book online.

4. Be honest and authentic

Whether you’re marketing retail or healthcare, millennials have less faith in brands compared to previous generations. Traditional, sales-forward ads don’t get far with this demographic, and millennials are looking at more value-focused brands that are striving to do good, whether it’s for their community, the environment or a global cause.

Rather than spending money on another ad campaign that touts an award or ranking, try:

  • Showcasing how your organization is helping people and making your community thrive through patient stories and testimonials.
  • Using live video or photos to give consumers a glimpse at more behind-the-scenes content that highlights your core values or expertise.
  • Featuring video profiles of staff, physicians and patients who are the face of your brand and who will better connect with consumers.

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5. Emphasize wellness content and programming

As you sit down to plan your editorial calendar or schedule community events, wellness content can be a great way to engage millennial healthcare consumers.

Exercise, nutrition and mental health are a high priority for this demographic. A 2017 survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute showed that millennials have the highest rates of wellness program participation.

Presenting wellness content can be a tricky business, though, so it’s important to make sure your sources are trustworthy and evidence-based. Interview subject matter experts and cite credible studies that can guide millennials and healthcare consumers in the right direction.


While marketing to millennials may seem like a big leap for some organizations, taking these steps are likely to help your marketing efforts across generations. Plus, you’ll be better equipped to tackle the next wave of consumers — Gen Z.

Partner with healthcare content experts who can target your audience

WriterGirl’s team of healthcare experts can work side-by-side with you to develop custom content that fits the demographic you need to reach. Whether it’s websites, blogs or email campaigns, we can craft a message for your audience. Drop us a line to learn more.