Gen Z has a lot on their collective mind. Global warming, school shootings, sexual harassment and an altogether uncertain future. Ranging in age from 11 to 26, these tweens-to-young-adults report high levels of stress and mental health concerns.
Healthcare marketers are likely to overlook Gen Z. After all, they’re probably still under their parents’ health insurance coverage.
But we’d suggest that — for large medical networks, community-based mental health providers, and organizations in between — this group is worth your attention and outreach. Why?
Catch them now, and they’ll be long-term patients or clients.
Born between the mid- to late-1990s to early 2010s, Gen Z’ers are the children of Gen X and young Baby Boomers. As of 2023, they represent about one-fifth of the U.S. population and $360 billion in disposable income.
This group of people was raised on technology and is heavily invested in the internet and social media. They want to be able to do most things online with little person-to-person interaction. When it comes to mental and physical health, they often Google their symptoms to self-diagnose before deciding what their plan of action is.
This generation is a bit of a paradox: They’re generally well educated and less likely than their parents or Gen X siblings to adopt risky behaviors, but they’re stressed and depressed. They follow brands and influencers on social media, but they are skeptical when those brands’ values don’t match their own. They follow trends and rely on peers and influencers for advice on what to buy, but they’re also thrifty and more likely to save their money than Gen X.
For healthcare brands and mental health providers, the obvious marketing strategy is to connect with Gen Z in their native habitat: online.
Building a strong and cohesive mobile presence is very important for Gen Z. They spend the most time on their phone and that’s where they get all of their info. As a marketer, you need to make sure your website, landing pages, and social media campaigns are fast, easy to digest and flawless in their mobile applications. Gen Z will get frustrated with a wonky experience and move onto to the next platform quickly. And your content needs to be useful. This generation tends to compare and contrast between brands and providers, so if a competitor’s website has more robust information, you might miss out.
This age group watches so much video that YouTube and TikTok are their natural platforms of choice. So if your organization is actively courting Gen Z patients, that’s where you need to connect with them. Videos should be authentic and not overly polished; they shouldn’t look like they came out of a corporate marketing machine. Use short videos in your paid digital advertising and organic social posting, as well.
Gen Z young adults are super savvy about all the content that comes at them online and on social channels. They know when they’re being marketed to. So use a soft-sell approach in your messaging. Give them the info they need and help them see themselves in your care. They’ll decide if and when they act.
Marketers think about audience engagement all the time, and with Gen Z, it goes beyond tracking likes and shares. Respond to their comments or questions, amplify their posts, show you’re paying attention to their needs and interests.
Because they’re cautious spenders, they need social proof before they’ll be convinced to connect with your brand. Show them that their peers trust your organization with their mental and physical health. Share testimonials from patients in their age group. Use images that look like them so they can see themselves in your world.
They respond to relatable, real messaging — and they don’t like being talked down to. So the brand’s tone of voice should be conversational and peer-to-peer. Use language they’re familiar with. Unlike Baby Boomer patients, Gen Z will be turned off by a traditional, paternalistic view of the doctor-patient relationship — the respectable, gray-haired white man as a venerated medical professional.
Speaking of real, Gen Z is very attuned to values around inclusivity and diversity. They’re comfortable interacting with people who are different from themselves, unlike older generations. So your messaging should reflect their view of the world.
Finally, your tech has to work flawlessly – they won’t put up with stuff that’s hard to navigate. And they’ll want to take action, whether that’s booking an appointment or video-chatting with a mental health counselor, within the technology itself right on their phone, and when and where they want.
Tenth Crow Creative is a brand marketing agency that creates, aligns, and promotes messaging for health and wellness organizations. Through insightful branding, engaging design and compelling marketing campaigns, we help these essential organizations find their identities and effectively communicate with their stakeholders so they can fulfill their missions.