Ready to market to Gen Z health care consumers?

Few weeks ago, we learned how Gen Zers define health and the gap between the actual self and the aspirational self. (Missed that blog? You can read it here.)

Today we will talk about what does the next generation of consumers expect from health care.

Capitalizing on mental health and self-care trends

Mental health and wellness are top of mind for Generation Z, which they see as closely tied to physical health. Many young adults in our study described aspects of physical health, such as exercise, through the lens of mental health benefits, like stress relief.

“Mental health definitely goes hand in hand with physical health… If you don’t feel good about yourself, are you really healthy?” -Gen Z Male, age 20

“I’ve managed to find a self-love that I believe is very healthy. It’s not about being better than anyone else, it’s about knowing your worth, and caring for yourself. I give a lot of myself for school and work, so finding a balance and treating yourself sometimes is important.” –Gen Z Female, age 21

This emphasis is in line with a larger societal shift around actually talking about mental health, and it presents an opportunity for brands to engage. Although your brand may not offer mental health services, presenting health care services through the lens of self-care, or building messages around the idea of complete mind-and-body wellness may resonate with Gen Z consumers.

Who’s influencing Gen Z?

Gen Z’s understanding of health is highly shaped by their social circle—both in-person and digital.

“I drink green smoothies to mitigate immune deficiencies. My mom is the reason I know about Macro Greens protein powder. She is a big health fanatic and knows a lot about health and wellness and good food.” -Gen Z Male, age 22

“I live with my best friends. They drink protein shakes because I do.” –Gen Z Male, age 21

Online influencers and personalities also serve as sources of information for everything from workout routines to healthy recipes to questionable cleanses—often with little to back up their recommendations aside from their own enviable bodies and professed health. 

What does it mean to be a digital native health care consumer?

Being digital natives doesn’t just mean that Gen Zers are addicted to their devices—their experiences have shifted the way they expect to interact with brands.

The ability to instantly find information online means easy access to medical knowledge and the ability to research and self-diagnose. For Gen Z, it’s less about being handed a solution, and more about the process of elimination and learning that comes from doing their own research—a philosophy built on “I’ll do it myself” and “nobody knows me better than me”.

Gen Zers are used to having access to whatever they want, whenever they want it. Their behavior is driven by a no-hassle mentality—a priority reflected in their preference for services like urgent care and “minute clinics” and their expectations for easy online scheduling, or the ability to video-call their doctors.

These young adults aren’t sitting and waiting for traditional health care to work for them. Their favorite brands in other industries are making life easier, more efficient, and stress-free.

So while minimizing friction in health care is something 25+ consumers wish for, it’s what young adults expect.

Are you delivering?

Remember we talked about disruptor brands shaping a new health care experience? What about well-being rising in 2018 among adults 25+? Check the newest health care trends here.


We partnered with the Cultural Anthropology Graduate program from the University of North Texas to conduct in-home, ethnographic interviews with the goal of understanding Gen Z’s perspectives and behaviors related to health and health care. We focused on two trend-setting markets, Austin, TX and Boulder, CO, where we talked to young adults (aged 18 to 22) who had recently moved away from home for the first time.

Here are some great secondary sources (and good research) about young adults: