Millennials are approaching wellness in a whole new way – theirs.
Many cultural factors contributed to the development and popularity of wellness as we know it today—or rather well-being. Many of these same factors are also responsible for shaping the consciousness of millennials. This generation stands to have as big or bigger of an impact on society as have baby boomers. This is due in part to its sheer number coupled with a striking shift in ideals compared to its predecessors.
While millennials are not leading an anti-establishmentarian movement like their 60’s counterparts, they are nonetheless forging a new path that is forever changing our world. The millennial approach to all things health is a prime example of this.
What is “health”?
A Goldman Sachs infographic shared results from Aetna’s 2013 “What’s Your Healthy Survey” about how different generations define “health.” Boomers and Gen X’ers placed a far higher value on not being ill and having an appropriate height/weight proportion in their view of what is healthy than did millennials. This group adopted a more balanced view of health in which simply not being sick did not constitute being well. For example, eating right, exercising and more rated much higher to millennials than to the others.
So, how exactly does the millennial view of health manifest itself in the lives of these young adults?
A new view
Millennials seem to be rejecting preventative care. Instead of going to the doctor, they seek out apps or online health sources like WebMD.com. If they are actually sick or in need of more, they favor retail-like or acute care clinics rather than the traditional medical group.2 They don’t develop an ongoing relationship with a personal physician but instead treat healthcare like any other commodity, even going so far as to challenge the cost of medical bills.
Millennials’ wallets open with caution with one exception – health and wellness.
What makes this so?Literally growing up with technology at their fingertips has taught millennials to expect convenience and easy access when it comes to comparing prices. Lower earnings and lessons from the recession have led them to adopt a conservative approach to personal finance. Their wallets open with caution with one exception—expenses perceived to contribute to their definition of health and wellness.
HIT Consultant cites new research from the Deep Focus Spring/Summer 2015 Cassandra Report: Body, Mind, Soul report regarding this. In the wellness arena, consumers between 18 and 34 are willing to spend almost one-fourth of their disposable income.4 This spending spree does not always come in the way of buying more “stuff” but spending heftily on targeted items from brands associated with a wellness lifestyle. Millennials are more apt to spend $100 on a pair of yoga pants at Lululemon then turn around and go to the gas station with the lowest price.
Millennials want control of their health.
On their terms Millennials want control of their health. They are not content to relinquish power of something so important to them to anyone else—even a doctor. They attribute their parents’ health problems to poor lifestyle choices and hold tight to the belief that they can and will make better choices. As a result, millennials expect to be healthier than their parents at 50, 60 and 70.
Is the millennial belief that they can truly be so in charge of their ultimate health and wellness a confidence to behold or an arrogance that could later be their downfall? As they age, will their view on the importance of healthcare change? Is it just too easy to be so cavalier about such things when you’re 25?
At some point, these questions don’t matter. Whatever millennials are doing, they are doing their way and everyone else just needs to get on board. Businesses across all industries must take note of what this pivotal consumer group is demanding and how it may change over time.
WebMD Health Services
Kenneth Mauck, MPT, MS Lead Physical Therapist