Reaching Gen Z about health

By Hallie Cronin, Engagement Intern, FCB Health New York

Gen Z, the generation of people born between the late 1990s and early 2000s, is currently graduating college and entering adulthood. This generation is poised to become a key demographic in the healthcare landscape. Members of Gen Z, colloquially called Zoomers, are more racially and ethnically diverse1 than any previous generation and are likely to be the most well-educated generation yet. They are also digital natives2 who have little or no memory of the world before smartphones.

Studies have found that Gen Z is more concerned about health than any other previous generation.3At the same time, younger generations are more distrusting of big pharma than older generations,4perhaps because of the negative publicity surrounding events experienced within their lifetime, including Martin Shkreli, the Sackler family and the systemic opioid epidemic.

So how can we reach Gen Z with important health information, including DTC campaigns? It’s all about personalization, convenience, trust and the search for the truth that drives Gen Z’s behaviors. Below are five factors to consider when designing campaigns with Gen Z in mind:

  1. Make offerings mobile friendly: Smartphones remain the number one device for over 75% of Gen Z.5 With the advent of mobile pay and a growing market for apps that center around physical and mental health, it’s important for healthcare marketers to pay attention to this trend to reach Gen Z. For example, over half of mobile phone users were found to use at least one health-focused app.6

  2. Reach out on social media: While Facebook is still the largest social media platform, Gen Z’s use of Facebook is plateauing and, therefore, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok are now considered crucial platforms to grow campaigns. Furthermore, in 2021, TikTok received more traffic than Google and was the most popular website on the internet.7 Many young people prefer to search on TikTok as the results are visually appealing. A recent survey showed that, to make their most recent online purchase, 43% of Zoomers used a search engine, 39% used a marketplace environment, 13% used social media and 5% did so through ads or emails.8 These findings help inform how much we should invest in reaching Gen Z through both traditional and non-traditional channels.

  3. Consider youth influencers: Gen Z influencers possess the power to impact the information which Gen Z consumes daily and thereby the decisions Zoomers make, specifically via Instagram and TikTok. Many health influencers push dietary supplements and activewear brands and promise health and happiness in simplified ways by advertising industry-specific products. Their Gen Z followers identify with the roles and values that these influencers represent, which creates a relationship of dependency between influencers and followers. This shift in authority figures for Generation Z can be utilized by a variety of targeted campaigns.9

  4. Strive for virtual convenience: Gen Z prioritizes convenience, including virtual access to healthcare and online patient programs, much more so than other generations. Zoomers find their online communities just as valuable and authentic as in-person communities. They flock towards online support groups, utilize apps and text reminders and prefer to book their appointments online. With this in mind, marketing campaigns directed at Gen Z should follow the expectation of virtual engagement and should be easily accessible via smartphones.

  5. Get personalized: Of Gen Z consumers who can afford to buy things beyond just basic needs, 58% say they are willing to pay more for personalized offerings, and 70% are willing to pay a premium for products from brands that embrace a cause with which they identify. Interestingly, 48% of Gen Z said they value brands that don’t classify items as male or female. Thus, personalization and aligning with specific values10 are increasingly important to Gen Z compared to previous generations.

It's clear that the qualities Gen Z holds certainly create innovative opportunities for healthcare marketing. This generation is invested in health, yet values convenience, virtual spaces and personalized branding. By understanding the needs and wants of these consumers, we can help clients create impactful campaigns that reach Gen Z.


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