Disclaimer: This blog will not contain jokes about millennials

Forget everything you have heard about millennials. The media may paint millennials as lazy hipsters addicted to taking selfies, but in actuality, they are open-minded, accepting, confident, self-expressive, and receptive to new ideas and ways of living. Born between 1980 and 2000, there are more than 90 million millennials living in the United States.1 They are recognized as the first generation to grow up completely immersed in a digital world, which is why they are able to adapt and keep up with a rapidly changing technological environment. Like it or not, millennials are approaching their prime spending age and marketers need to consider their mindset and needs in order to effectively communicate with them.

Here are 5 important values to millennials:

  1. Authenticity. The brands that resonate most with millennials are honest, transparent, and break traditional communication patterns. The advertising that worked on other generations will not work here. Millennials are demanding more from brands than ever before. They want healthier ingredients. They want to research products and read online reviews before committing to a purchase. They want to buy local. One brand that embraces this idea is Panera. At the end of 2015, Panera promised its customers they would stop using artificial ingredients by 2016. They also started a “Food As It Should Be” marketing campaign with an honest menu that lists calories, detailed ingredients, and information for every item, an animal welfare report, and positive impact report. Panera also focuses on sharing information about their supply chain and giving back to the community. When a brand like Panera is transparent with its customers, it shows them that they truly care about the ingredients they use for their food and they value their customers and the community.
  2.  Immediacy. Instant access and gratification is a necessity for millennials. In this new age of technology, why not get exactly what you want exactly when you want it? Apps like Uber Eats and Postmates were born from this idea, and millennials are the reason for their success. Uber Eats is an extension of Uber where a customer can order any food in the area and an Uber driver picks it up and delivers it for them for a small fee. Postmates is a similar app, but the customer can order anything they want or need and a driver will pick it up and drop it off for them. Out of shampoo and do not want to go out and get it? With the touch of a button and a small fee, you do not have to anymore! These may be extreme examples, but the idea is in this fast-paced world millennials expect fast and easy service.
  3. Peer Influence. Thanks to the power of Google, any question you have can be answered within seconds. Most millennials have grown up with this ability, so they are more likely to turn to the Internet or friends and family than a professional for the answers they seek. On average, millennials spend more than 2 hours a day on social media.2 Millennials are able to easily block out the ads they are constantly bombarded with and instead look to influencers to see what’s what at the moment. When starting a new medication, a millennial would rather search the possible side effects and read about the experience of others than consult with his or her doctor. In fact, millennials have a strong tendency toward participating in online communities, and trust more of what they find online3. They trust and value personal experience when going into a new situation rather than the opinion of a textbook or professional. From social media to blogs and chatrooms, millennials want to connect with others and hear personal stories. They are also very willing to share their personal stories with others if it means helping someone else going through the same experience.
  4. Personalization. Because we live in a world of mass marketing where everyone shops at the same stores and ends up having the same stuff, millennials expect an individualized brand experience. They value self-expression and seek out brands where they can have a hand in co-creation of the product. In the past 5 years, Nike’s NIKE iD program has generated an 18% direct-to-consumer revenue increase versus a 5% increase in wholesale revenue.4 NIKE iD allows consumers to select design aspects from style, color, and fabric on any Nike shoe. It is available online, via app, or in store, and within 4 weeks the customer is walking around in custom Nikes. They even want their ad experience customized, with 63% of millennial consumers willing to share data with companies in exchange for personalized offers and discounts. Being able to be in control and having a hand in what they buy is important to millennials.  If they are going to be bombarded with ads anyway, it might as well be ads that are relevant to them. 
  5. Experience. Although many millennials are following a “minimalistic” lifestyle and paying close attention to how much they are spending and what they are spending it on, they are willing to pay more for experiences versus material goods. From concerts and social events to athletic pursuits, cultural experiences, and events of all kinds, for millennials happiness is not dependent on possessions or career status. Instead, a meaningful life is about creating, sharing, and capturing memories earned through experiences that can last a lifetime. The reason behind this trend could be many different things. Perhaps it is because they saw the devastating effects of the 2008 recession and realized that when things get tough, material things are not important. Perhaps millennials have a fear of missing out and want to have these experiences so they can post pictures on social media so everyone knows they had these super cool experiences. Maybe it is both. Either way, brands need to start focusing on appealing to this growing movement.

Applying these values to the healthcare industry

So what does this mean for the health and wellness industry? Everything. Healthcare is an industry being transformed to be more in line with millennials’ values and needs. Past generations’ priorities were in spending areas such as homes, cars, and luxury goods, but for millennials, they are willing to spend big bucks when it comes to their health and gaining experiences. Millennials are exercising more, eating healthier, and smoking less than previous generations. They are using apps to track their health and exercise data and searching the Internet to find the latest food to cut out of their diet. To millennials, “healthy” encompasses exercising and eating right, not just “not being sick.” Because of their awareness and drive to be healthy, healthcare is an area in which millennials are willing to spend big bucks on the best brands. Whether it be expensive fitness trackers or pricey athleisure clothing worn to more places than just the gym, millennials are not willing to waver on their budgets when it comes to their health.

Who’s doing this right?

In health and wellness, Care/of is a great example of a company that understands millennials. They offer personalized vitamin packs based on questions about goals, lifestyle, and values. The site recommends vitamins and supplements, and the customers can add or remove whatever they see fit, and then each month a 30-day supply is sent right to the customer’s doorstep. Their promise is to have honest guidance and use clean ingredients. Plus, they even have an app that reminds people to take their vitamins. This company hits all of the characteristics on millennials’ checklists. Care/of uses the best ingredients possible, which is something this generation pays close attention to. The vitamin packs are customized to each individual’s specific needs and the vitamins are shipped right to their front door. It is an easy, fast way for millennials to get their vitamins, which is an important part of their health.

Even when it comes to traditional prescription medicine there is innovation happening. Nurx is an online website that allows women to answer questions about what kind of contraception they are looking for and helps match them to a method that best fits their needs. If the customer does not have insurance, Nurx will help her find the most affordable option. If the customer does have insurance, then all she has to do is enter her information and the birth control is either free or the cost of the normal copay. After choosing the method, the customer has to do a 30-minute teleconference with a licensed healthcare professional and then the prescription can be mailed to her house every 3 months. Again, everything a millennial is looking for — customized product, easy process, and fast delivery.


When trying to connect with a millennial audience, the communication strategy must consider their preferences and values. In the case of healthcare, here are some ways to be more relevant when communicating to and engaging with this important segment:

  1. ·       Leverage influencer marketing
  2. ·       Incorporate patient testimonials
  3. ·       Offer fast and convenient services and customer service

Enable direct channels such as Facebook Messenger where patients can be connected one-to-one with nursing and other patient support concierge services and opt-in for future conversations

  • Build patient and mentor communities
  • Get social and join the conversation
  • Organize physical retreats
  • Set a bar for pricing transparency

Offer complementary services and tools for digital tracking including mobile health apps

Above all, keep in mind that millennials are a value-driven group. They have grown up in a digitally connected, social world. They are innovative and entrepreneurial. They are finding new ways to be efficient and eco-friendly. They want transparency and honesty. They are proactive about their health. They value convenience, personalized service, and experience. For brands to be effective communicators among this audience, they will need to reach past strong and clever branding.

If you show millennials you understand them and care about their values, they will respond positively to your brand. At bare minimum, they may just follow you on Twitter.


  1. Drucker Mann L. How millennials are shaking up the way we shop. Goldman Sachs website. https://www.goldmansachs.com/insights/pages/lindsay-drucker-mann-changing-millennial-consumers.html. Published May 30, 2017. Accessed August 20, 2018.
  2. Mander J. Daily time spent on social networks rises to over 2 hours. Global Web Index website. https://blog.globalwebindex.com/chart-of-the-day/daily-time-spent-on-social-networks/. Published May 16, 2017. Accessed August 20, 2018.
  3. What’s happening. 7 ways millennials are changing the healthcare industry (and what it means to you). Hitchcock Fleming & Associates, Inc. website. https://www.teamhfa.com/news/insights/7-ways-millennials-are-changing-healthcare-industry/. Accessed August 20, 2018.
  4. Qian Q. 3 tips from Nike’s customizable sneaker service that’s fast-growing in the China market. Jing Daily website. https://jingdaily.com/3-reasons-why-nike-ids-customizable-sneakers-are-more-crucial-than-ever/. Published July 1, 2017. Accessed August 20, 2018.

By Julia Mack