Healthline: Why More Millennials Are Choosing to Cut Corners on Their Health

Findings from an online survey conducted by 5W Public Relations found that investing in long-term health and wellness is not a high priority for many millennials.

However, research from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) found that millennials are less healthy than members of the prior generation at the same age.

So why aren’t millennials investing more in their health?

“When you think about millennials, a lot of them are not at the top of the food chain when it comes to salaries. Yes, they are going to the gym… but they are not prioritizing health; they want to live their lives and have fun with the money they make through experiences,” Dara A. Busch, president of consumer practice at 5W Public Relations, told Healthline.

In fact, when it comes to what millennials spend money on, they ranked experiences/travel first, followed by dining out and electronics/tech — not health and wellness.

This makes sense to millennial expert Gabrielle Bosché.

“Experiences are important to millennials. You’ll see them want to spend money on going to a concert or festival or vacation with friends over investing in a home or paying off debt. Brands in the health and wellness market who want to capture millennials will do well if they go after experiences,” Bosché told Healthline.

What influences millennials?

According to the survey, the following have the greatest influence over millennials’ decision making.

Word of mouth: 93 percent

Millennials ranked word of mouth as what influences them most.

“Your sister saying this is the best restaurant to go to on a Friday night still holds influence. The difference is how the word of mouth is being spread, so now it’s shared through social media and Google and Yelp reviews. We have more technology to spread word of mouth and expand the influence of individuals who share their opinion about a particular product or service,” said Bosché.

Articles and blogs: 74 percent

Bosché said the millennial generation is all about educating themselves.

“Whether it’s looking at blogs or products or YouTube reviews of a product, this generation is not looking at what a beauty expert in a lab coat says about this product, but what do the people who look like me and act like me say about the product,” she said.

Someone they follow on Instagram: 72 percent

Busch said the survey revealed that the first thing millennials do when they wake up and the last thing they do before they go to bed is check their Instagram.

“They are influenced by what’s on their page because it’s the narrative of their life and it’s entertainment,” said Busch.

She referred to a focus group she conducted that included millennials as participants. After pulling up influencers on social media who had thousands of followers, the millennials were asked why the person resonated with them.

While millennials pointed out characteristics about the person, such as they were entertaining, funny, or goofy, Busch said all of them said, “I feel like I know them” or “I feel like they are my friend.”

“So it was that connection point that social media provided that they felt like they had a relationship with the person, and so hearing what they say about products turned into word of mouth for them,” she said.

Same goes for health and wellness.

“When a millennial follows a celebrity who shows things that they do in their daily life that involves them being smart and healthy… they are willing to try something on the recommendation of the celebrity or influencer,” Busch said.

What gets millennials interested in health?

With millennials projected to spend 1.4 trillion dollars in 2020, Busch said getting them to put some of those dollars toward health and wellness will require attracting them in the following 5 ways.

1. Create a lifestyle story

Because millennials have shopping power and influence but aren’t taking care of themselves in a way they should, brands and initiatives have to figure out how to market to them smarter, said Busch.

She pointed to brands that have successfully connected with millennials by showing the lifestyle of using their brand, such as the fitness company SoulCycle.

“Their marketing is all about the lifestyle of being a SoulCycle enthusiast, and so millennials have gotten excited about SoulCycle because they want to be part of the lifestyle. Brands that push a product and are insincere go past millennials, and they don’t want to engage,” said Busch.

Bosché agreed, but said income can play a part.

Because millennials include a wide range of ages, she differentiated between two groups for research purposes: those born between 1982 and 1990 and those born between 1991 and 1996.

“Though it’s a subtle difference, it can be profound in terms of how these two groups view life, work, health and wellness, and the role that technology plays in their life as they were coming of age,” she said. “As we look at their different income levels, some have more disposable income than others particularly on the health and wellness side.

She added, “As they have more income, they begin to have the means to invest more in health and wellness initiatives like the Peloton and going to SoulCycle or [participating in] the hot fitness trends out there.”

2. Showcase a popular face

Brands and initiatives that use celebrities and influencers also get the edge.

“We are surrounded by Instagram models and YouTube stars who make it look so easy and achievable to not only get in shape, but make money, because they’re getting in shape as an influencer. It’s no wonder [using influencers] has become a huge priority,” said Bosché.

She said this is particularly the case in the skin care industry.

“There are a lot of millennial influencers going after skin care, so we’ve seen huge spikes in skin care spending in the millennial market where before it was maybe you have a skin care routine and then in your 40s get some anti-aging product,” said Bosché.

The plastic surgery industry is following suit too, and marketing Botox to millennials in their 20s, she added.

“The focus of a lot of these products are realizing that the millennial generation is the largest consumer market out there and if they want to win millennials in the short term and as long-term customers, they have to start earlier,” she said.

3. Tap into trends

Trends are another way to reach millennials, whether they’re started by influencers or not.

“We know millennials like to participate in trends. We know they comment and share things, [and as a result] a viral trend starts to take off among them. When it comes to their health, if they can see their friends doing something [that goes] viral, they may be more interested in trying them or even inquiring about them because they get all their information from social,” said Busch.

4. Support a charity

The survey from 5W Public Relations reported that 67 percent of millennials believe it’s important that a brand they purchase from has a charitable component to it.

“A brand that gives back is a brand that millennials want to be part of. Clif bar is a brand that gives back and they show the lifestyle aspect of the brand, too. Luna too. Supplements who give to Vitamin Angels or give back to the less fortunate in another way are a great drive for millennials to try,” said Busch.

5. Offer wellness perks at work

Employers who want to attract millennial workers should include well-being opportunities as part of their standard benefits, said Bosché.

“Everything from meditation, yoga and mindfulness, to making sure they have access to a gym nearby… is what millennials expect from their employers,” Bosché said.

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