Millennials are incredibly self-aware consumers.
They’ve grown up in a culture saturated by media and know when someone is trying to sell them something. They crave meaning, authenticity, personal engagement, experiences—the kinds of things that traditional marketing hasn’t offered. They want to experience brands by friending them on social media and having an ongoing relationship, just as they do with everyone else who they let into their social bubble.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? So why expend the energy necessary to cater to this enigmatic and seemingly fickle group of consumers? Aren’t they just lazy, entitled narcissists who spend all day looking at their phones?
Maybe. But like every generation, millennials are a diverse group, and they resist broad categorization. They’ve also been described as intensely brand loyal, idealistic, and focused on fitness and well-being.
And there are a lot of them—more now than any other generation. Though they had a slow start, they’re poised to take the reins of the nation’s economy as the largest group of consumers for the next two decades.
DCs are in a unique position to offer a specific set of products and services that will help enable the things that millennials want. Once millennials realize the value of custom-made orthotics or the benefit of a proper foot-spine connection, for example, they could become loyal patients and vocal proponents of chiropractic.
By the numbers
Millennials have recently surpassed baby boomers as the nation’s largest generation. The Pew Research Center defines millennials as those born between 1981 and 1997. That group now numbers 75.4 million, edging out the 74.9 baby boomers in the United States. The number of millennials is expected to top out at 81.1 million in 2036.1
Pew also discovered that millennials hate being called “millennials.” Only 40 percent of adults 18 to 34 consider themselves part of the “millennial generation,” and older millennials actually identify more with Gen X.2
Mastering millennial marketing
Chiropractors, it’s time to get real. You have a certain reputation: quacks, hacks, back crackers, not real doctors…you’ve heard them all before. They make you angry, right?
Well, lighten up.
Millennials are self-aware. They know that they’re the objects of ridicule themselves. They even know that they sometimes deserve it. Pew found that 59 percent say the term “self-absorbed” describes their generation, while only 36 percent say their generation is “hard-working.” They also see themselves as “wasteful” (49 percent) and “greedy” (43 percent). They are significantly more critical of their generation than older age cohorts are of theirs.
They can laugh at themselves, each other, and everyone else—including you. That is, unless you take yourself too seriously.
In fact, millennials might be drawn to you more if you acknowledge and embrace the stereotypes that society places on chiropractic. They appreciate being seen as different and misunderstood. They don’t mind being labeled as vegan, gluten-free, and organic.
Steps you can take
There are some specific things that chiropractors can do to increase their appeal to millennials. Keep in mind, though, that this generation is a moving target, and that what works today literally might not be as effective tomorrow.
1. Keep emailing
Who even emails? Surprisingly, millennials still do. U.K. email marketing company Adestra recently released a report that found millennials prefer interacting with brands via email. Nearly 68 percent of teens and 73 percent of 20-somethings said they prefer communications from businesses to come via email.3 That’s probably because texting “demands” an immediate response, whereas email can be deferred and read later. Just be careful how many emails you send—nearly 60 percent of respondents in the report said that they get too many promotional emails.
Millennials demand that brands address them personally. Email messages that come across like marketing blasts will get deleted. But emails reminding them to come get replacements for their custom orthotics because you know they’re training for a marathon will get read every time.
2. Provide online appointment scheduling
According to the Advisory Board Company, six of millennial’s top-10 priorities for health-care involve convenience.4 Providing the ability to schedule appointments online can go a long way toward attracting and retaining loyal millennial customers.
Millennials love tricks and shortcuts that will help them do life better or quickly learn a new skill. YouTube is full of short tutorials from DCs. Giving information such as this away for free can build brand loyalty and lead to more formal doctor-patient relationships.
For instance, you could post quick “hacks” for a better running gait or how to evaluate the differences between custom and non-custom orthotics.
4. Be an enabler
Millennials value experiences. They lived through 2008 and saw firsthand how quickly money, cars, and houses could vanish before many of them had opportunities to begin pursuing these things themselves. Seventy-eight percent would choose to spend money on an experience or event over buying something desirable.5
They’re delaying home ownership, marriage, and having kids in favor of going out and doing things. Give them tools that will support these activities. For example, you could be the source for the custom-made orthotic inserts that will hold the adjustment you made, enabling them to endure long days at Coachella or their first 5K.
Millennials are dedicated to wellness, and they’re willing to commit their time and resources to an active lifestyle. There might be no better time for DCs to begin shifting their marketing focus to capture the attention of this market in order to become an important partner for years to come.
Kevin Wong, DC, is an expert on foot analysis, walking and standing postures, and orthotics. He discusses spinal and extremity adjusting at speaking engagements. He can be contacted through orindachiropractic.com.