Marketing your healthcare business to Gen Z
Generation Z, or those born between the mid-1990s and early 2010s, is a demographic wholly unique in its diversity, digital nativity, and distinct worldviews. And, they’re already shaking up stagnant industries. For healthcare providers and marketers, understanding and engaging with this group is essential as they wield significant influence and are shaping the future and driving innovation.
Who is Gen Z?
Gen Z comprises about 30% of the global population. They are the first truly global generation (no, they don’t know what a floppy disk is, nor have they had to use dial up to connect to the internet), with a diverse ethnic and socioeconomic background. This generation has grown up with unprecedented digital connectivity, and they expect the same from the organizations they work with. Their upbringing, in a post 9/11 world, rife with technological advancements and the proliferation of social media has influenced their views on health, wellness, and institutional trust.
Defining characteristics of Gen Z
In order to engage with Gen Z, it’s helpful to understand a few defining characteristics of this unique demographic.
- Digital natives – Gen Z has never known a world without the internet or smartphones.
- Values – Mental health, diversity, and inclusivity are not just buzzwords but core values for Gen Z. They seek holistic wellness, blending physical, mental, and social well-being.
- Visual and digital communication style – Gen Z tends to prefer concise, engaging digital content and are adept at filtering out irrelevant information.
Gen Z’s perspective on healthcare
Gen Z is proactive about health but skeptical of traditional healthcare systems. They are inclined to take preventive measures. Additionally, Gen Z is the first generation to reach out to wellness practitioners before engaging Western medicine, and they are most likely to lack a primary care physician. While that doesn’t seem particularly encouraging for healthcare organizations, it represents a very unique opportunity to be more innovative, creative, and authentic in your approach to marketing in the coming years.
Embracing digital channels to engage Gen Z
Considering they average about 3 hours per day on social media, digital channels seem to be their preferred method of obtaining information. Healthcare organizations are going to have to ramp up their digital channels in order to effectively engage with Gen Z patients. Since the pandemic accelerated the adoption of telehealth and other digital channels, most organizations shouldn’t be that out of the loop. However, as a healthcare marketer it would make sense to invest heavily in digital channels to better align with Gen Z’s digital preferences for healthcare access. Consider addressing the following digital channels:
- Make telehealth a priority for mental health and wellness services – when you make it easy for an audience to access your services and highlight the services most important to them, they are more likely to engage with your organization.
- Leverage social media – platforms like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube are not just for entertainment but vital sources of health information for Gen Z. Over half of Gen Z users surveyed are using social media to find health-related information.
- Invest in mobile-friendly services – Gen Z primarily uses smartphones for internet access, meaning healthcare organizations must prioritize mobile-friendly apps and websites or risk losing Gen Z patients. This is a huge one for healthcare organizations with glitchy apps or outdated desktop platforms.
- Embrace influencers – Healthcare influencers can demystify complex medical information, making it relatable and accessible. They also have a strong following, so partnering with influencers can be a great way to build brand awareness and get in front of a new audience. If you have professionals at your organization that are already influencers or that would be willing to give it a go, consider asking them to also help your outreach strategy.
Personalize messaging and engage in conversations
It has been our experience with various healthcare clients that Gen Z appreciates candid conversations. Whether it’s email communication or social media posts, building a personalized, real, and relatable presence can go a long way in ensuring the trustworthiness of your information and your organization. Be willing to start conversations with Gen Z, and make sure to also listen to what they have to say. Often times your audience will have no qualms telling you what they think, especially on social media. Now, it’s time to pay attention and incorporate their feedback.
Another great piece of advice is to give your brand a face, moving it from a faceless corporate monstrosity to relatable, trustworthy healthcare organization. This will benefit not just your Gen Z patients but other facets of the business, including recruitment efforts.
Showcase your brand and culture
Transparency, authenticity, and real-world impact are vital in appealing to Gen Z. They prefer brands that are not just selling services but offering value-aligned experiences. A great way to accomplish this, without being gimmicky, is through storytelling such as Gen Z patient experiences and employee narratives. However, the overall goal should be to build a transparent brand that does not avoid the difficult conversations, so your storytelling should incorporate that as well rather than painting an unrealistically bright picture.
You’re also on the right track if sustainability, diversity, and social responsibility are integral to your brand’s identity and operations. If that is the case, it’s vital to showcase those efforts to the community. If not, considering exploring some of those efforts or crowd sourcing ideas to bring to the leadership team. One of the best things about Gen Z is their willingness to challenge the status quo. So, use this as an opportunity for your brand to do the same or start making subtle changes for the better of the organization, your patients, and your community.
Adapting to Gen Z’s needs and expectations represents a shift in healthcare delivery and communication. Successfully engaging with this demographic offers immense benefits, from increased brand loyalty to improved health outcomes.