MBPT Spotlight: Prescriptions for Marketing Healthcare to Millennials from Cassandra Report

New Cassandra Report research released by digital agency Deep Focus finds that millennials spend nearly 25% of their disposable income on health and wellness, but because they often don't trust the healthcare system, they are finding different ways to ensure their own wellness.

Those ways include using technology to track their fitness and splurging on healthier food and clothing products from brands that promote wellness as part of their core mission.

The study presents data on how millennials are impacting the healthcare market and how brands can connect with these health-conscious consumers.

“This massive generation is influencing changes to both healthcare and marketing that will ultimately impact everyone, regardless of age,” says Deep Focus chief marketing officer Jamie Gutfreund. “To succeed, brands will need to actively demonstrate that they really care about consumers’ health and well-being.”

The study finds opportunities for brands because millennials, or Generation Y, are researching and creating their own wellness plans. It points out that 57% of Gen Ys don’t trust health insurance companies; 72% worry that current health care systems won’t help them when they’re old; 79% would feel guilty if they weren’t healthy enough to spend time with their children; and 78% agree that their health is an aspect of their life that they can take control of.

“Going outside the traditional system, which they refuse to follow blindly, Gen Ys are leveraging their innate ability to interpret personal data and newfound insight into wellbeing,” the study says. It adds that they are “likewise armed with highly sophisticated measurement tools to rival those found in doctors’ offices and with the internal knowledge of what is best for them based on their own unique definition of what it means to be healthy.”

Some more data on Gen Ys: 74% who exercise and track their fitness like to do it so they can customize their own health plan; 54% say nutrition facts on packaging and on restaurant menus are difficult to understand; 30% find themselves going on the Internet to find information about health and wellness; 68% are more willing to splurge on healthy food than on unhealthy food; and 86% say that exercising and eating well is an investment in their health.

Another interesting response that should interest marketers — 61% of Gen Ys agree that they are more likely to exercise if they have fun workout clothes and shoes. And 77% want brands to make their lives happier and better.

One characteristic that separates millennials from previous generations, the study finds, is their willingness to talk about the feelings, emotions and problems. Nearly four in 10 Gen Ys have gone to a therapist or life coach. Says the study, “to them, therapy is not a sign of weakness, but rather an important means for managing one’s health that’s enjoyable.”

The study says millennials want brands to take wellness seriously and “will have little forgiveness for those that knowingly undermine their efforts to be well.” The study adds, “that’s not to say that they expect every brand to take wellness to an extreme, but rather they want companies to help them cultivate balance.”

Stressing millennials’ belief in wellness, the study finds that 65% of Gen Ys believe that eating unhealthy food is just as bad for the body as drugs and alcohol.

Another interesting finding that retailers should take note of is that more young consumers are also beginning to seek out “wellness-oriented” shopping experiences marked by “soothing stores, fitness-focused malls and stress-free service.” The study finds that 70% of Gen Ys say that loud, busy stores turn them off.

The top 5 things that impact food purchasing decisions among millennials: 40% say all natural; 33% say high protein; 33% say organic; 29% say a particular brand; and 28% say low sugar or sugar free. What do millennials splurge on? 36% say healthy foods and drinks; 23% say fitness apparel and shoes; 17% say exercise classes or gym memberships; 15% say medical or wellness supplies; 13% say medical care; 13% say spa treatments; 12% say self-improvement classes; and 11% say spiritual classes or materials.

Some data regarding their feelings about brands and marketing: 71% want junk food brands to offer healthier varieties; 70% feel it’s important to reveal when a brand that promotes itself as healthy really isn’t; 69% make it a point to buy from brands whose values align with their own; 62% say brands need to have a wellness component in order to succeed; 75% don’t want to feel a brand is just selling them; 72% want brands to actually demonstrate how a product improves their wellness; and 80% of millennials who are parents say they wish they could find more healthy brands that their whole family would enjoy.

Additional data: 56% trust brands when they claim that their products are healthy; 68% prefer wellness products from large national brands vs. those from boutique brands; 54% prefer athletic apparel with no logos; and 70% feel better about brands and businesses that give back to health and wellness causes.

What are the top 5 brands in the areas of wellness, fitness, health food and education & learning as listed by millennial in the study?

In wellness (in order) they are: Nike, Adidas, GNC, Kashi and Whole Foods. In fitness they are: Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, Fitbit and Puma. In health foods they are Kashi, Whole Foods, Kellogg’s, Trader Joe’s and GNC. And in education & learning they are LeapFrog, Luminosity, Rosetta Stone, Khan Academy and Apple.

Deep Focus is a digital agency with offices in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, London, Hong Kong and Shanghai. It was founded in 2002 and acquired by marketing services network Engine Group in 2010. Its clients include Frito-Lay, Nestle, Purina, Alibaba, Microsoft, Samsung and Ubisoft.

This latest Cassandra Report, titled Body, Mind, Soul, was generated through a quantitative online survey from among assorted respondent groups. A total of 1000 U.S. adults ages 19 to 35 were interviewed by Deep Focus, along with 303 U.S. teens ages 14 to 18. The agency also conducted in-depth qualitative interviews, both online and in person, among respondents ages 18-35 across the U.S. from its private online community, Cassandra Speaks. The survey was conducted from March 20 through April 1, 2015.