Posted: May 11, 2017

You might call Matt a prototypical millennial. He's settled into his first full-time job — technology specialist for a mid-sized marketing firm — after spending a few months post-graduation backpacking across Australia. Matt rents an apartment close to work and spends a lot of his free time hanging out with friends.

One weekend Matt gashes his index finger while attempting to change a bike tire. He posts a shot of his sliced digit on Instagram, and advice flows back quickly from friends: “You gotta get that looked at," urges nursing student Amanda.

Matt re-wraps his cut, then taps a first-aid app. He's hoping he can tough it out to avoid a costly doctor visit. But he learns the injury will likely need professional attention, so he starts browsing through options to decide where to go for care.

Finally, Matt makes his choice. He recognizes the name of an urgent care clinic affiliated with the community hospital. He's reassured by the clinic's 4-star consumer rating and recalls the location from last year's blood drive.

Millennial trends

Matt's case, although hypothetical, highlights several millennial tendencies that have been affirmed by research and expert observation. Here's what we know:

He's fully engaged with mobile technology and social media. Nielsen Mobile Insights estimates millennial smartphone ownership at 97-98% (depending on whether the cohort is 18-24 or 25-34). Among Matt's age group of Internet users, 55% use Instagram, according to Pew Research Center, compared to just 11% in the 50-64 age bracket, so it's not surprising that one of his social media contacts influenced his course of action. Which means managing your online reputation is even more critical if you hope to reach this age-bracket.

He's only seeking care because it's medically necessary. About 36% of millennials admit they try self-treatment at home before going to a doctor, a higher percentage than older consumers, reports consultancy Communispace. Additionally, millennials often associate the traditional doctor's office with “sick care" and don't want to be batched into a not-healthy category. All the more reason to have a strategy that includes them in your pool of potential consumers.

He's cost-conscious. Millennials are more likely than their older counterparts to gather cost estimates before undergoing treatment, according to PNC Healthcare. A 2016 Harris Poll found an online cost estimator to be the most important technology desired by millennials when considering providers. Considering millennial's consumer experience expectations, like cost transparency, is crucial to engaging them.

He's looking for a convenient provider to quickly address a specific need. The commodity millennials value most is their time. With expedience top of mind, they're twice as likely as baby boomers and seniors to select an acute care clinic over a primary care physician's office. They're also apt to scan through online reviews to get a feel for what to expect from the healthcare provider and confirm the needed treatment is offered. Creating robust, personal provider profiles with review transparency on your mobile-optimized website could make all the difference with this audience.

He supports socially conscious businesses. Matt's status as a blood donor aligns him with “super-connected" millennials, a group especially supportive of business and its ability to make a positive impact on society. Similarly, Matt's attraction to the urgent care clinic reflects millennials' inclination to choose brands that reflect their style and personality. If you want to connect your urgent care clinics to this strategy or compete with those that do, promoting the value and benefits of your brand from the consumer's perspective is absolutely essential.

From friendly advice to self-curated research, millennials make their healthcare decisions by pulling in a mash-up of sources. In the end, branding or messaging aimed at this now-dominant generation stands the best chance of resonating when it quickly delivers helpful information while lining up with personal values.

Want to learn more about developing your healthcare marketing strategy, for all audiences? Request a free healthcare marketing assessment.