Millennial health study digs up useful nuggets for pharma marketers

Boomers, Gen X and Millennials often look at the world in different ways, and that includes healthcare and pharma. As part of a Millennial study by Allidura Consumer, GSW and Harris Poll, the researchers dove into some of those generational differences.

Baby Boomers seem to be the most pharma-friendly--and the most prone to follow their drug regimens: 83% of Boomers say it's important to use prescription and OTC drugs as directed, the survey found, while 73% Gen X and 69% Millennials say it's important. Boomers also led in strong attitudes about vaccines, with 30% agreeing that vaccines are "absolutely essential" to leading a healthy life versus 21% of Gen X and 16% of Millennials. Three-fourths of all the groups agreed vaccines were at least important.

Allidura's Danielle Dunne

"Our focus was on Millennial attitudes, with Boomers and Gen X as a baseline, but what we saw was that Millennials thought about traditional health care as sick care and are much more open to alternative health care," said Danielle Dunne, managing director at Allidura and one of the authors of the report. "Boomers are generally more likely to conform to a traditional approach about health and wellness … and are more likely to seek advice from a doctor or listen to a doctor."

The study also uncovered some generational attitudes for pharma marketers to consider. For instance, Gen X (52%) and Millennials (43%) more often cited a lack of health insurance as hurdle to seeking care they need. Only 32% of Boomers said lack of health insurance was a problem. Could pharma prescription assistance programs be better marketed to those younger groups?

The researchers also asked the three groups about the biggest health challenges of their generation. Baby Boomers most often listed cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer's or dementia, lung disease and Parkinson's disease. Millennials, on the other hand, ticked off depression, STDs, prescription drug misuse and suicide. That sounds like what would be expected, but are marketers using the communication methods these different groups prefer to reach them about those prevalent diseases?

There also seems to be a disconnect between believing it's important to be healthy and feeling that way. While at least 95% of each group said being healthy is important or very important to them, only 42% each of Boomers and Millennials, and only 32% of Gen Xers, agreed that the statement "I am healthy" best describes them.

"There are many areas where the generations were similar. Our overall take was that people have a much more mind/body approach to health today," Dunne said. "That's important for pharma marketers when they're communicating about therapies that are going to help manage a disease or help control a chronic illness. Sometimes we tend to focus on a drug's function and benefits. I think today marketing needs to include a more emotional side."

- see the Millennial report