Who's best at connecting with 'worried well' millennials? J&J, Sanofi and UCB

Millennials want to be happy and healthy, but they're just so stressed out.

Contrary to the typical carefree image of youth, millennials ages 18 to 32 worry about health issues--like getting a serious illness or affording healthcare--as much as baby boomers do, according to a recent study by InVentiv Health companies GSW and Allidura, along with Harris Poll. In fact, in some categories such as access to doctors and getting medication when they need it, millennials worry even more than baby boomers.

The researchers first wrote about these "Worried Well" Millennials last fall, but they recently dove into attitudinal data to find out how healthcare brands can engage with this age group--and which ones already are.

GSW and Allidura came up with 7 millennial maxims for healthcare companies and then searched dozens of brands to match maxim to marketer. Pharmas Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ), Sanofi ($SNY) and UCB made the cut, along with Oscar Health, Greatist, Walgreens ($WBA), and Whole Foods ($WFM).

GSW's Zach Gerber

"One of the big takeaways is that the idea of balance for millennials is essential. And I don't just mean in their dietary choices, I mean in the type of messages they receive too," said Zach Gerber, a strategist at GSW and one of the study's main authors. "They don't want to be talked at, they want to be part of the conversation."

The millennial maxims they came up with are:

  • We're different. You should be too.
  • We'll pass on the sick care, thank you.
  • Happiness and healthiness are intertwined.
  • Do good with us.
  • Be there when we need you--and don't freak us out.
  • Help us find balance.
  • Show your sources.

J&J was chosen as the example of how to "do good with us" well, thanks to its programs such as the Care Inspires Care campaign to celebrate selfless acts of caring, its BabyCenter website and Text4Baby information for pregnant women.

Sanofi's DX: The Diabetes Experience embodied the "help us find balance" tenet with its online community, advice and information hub built around helping people with diabetes live their best lives. The key, the report notes, is not defining people by the disease but "rather, it connects with people who also have diabetes by providing valuable lifestyle information--recognizing the whole and helping them find the balance they are searching for."

And UCB won kudos for being there when millennials are in need (without freaking them out). The Belgian pharma used social media listening to discover epilepsy patients' most common concern and tailored its Epilepsy Advocate program to address it. Social media turned out to be the solution, too, because that shared worry happened to be a feeling of isolation. Now, more than 150,000 people follow the program's Facebook ($FB) page, and the company is expanding the campaign beyond social.

When it comes to health and happiness, while 97% of millennials in the survey said they want to be happy and a similar 95% want to be healthy, only 48% and 42%, respectively, actually feel that way.

"We found that millennial health and happiness is completely intertwined," said Gerber, who is a millennial himself. "In the stress and search cycle, pharmas have a great opportunity to be that influential and educational source and open up conversations with them."

- check out the GSW/Allidura report (PDF)

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