The Millennial Mindset

December 2018 | Volume 17 | Issue 12 | Editorials | 1340 | Copyright © December 2018

Noëlle S. Sherber MD FAAD

SHERBER+RAD, Washington, DC The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Dermatology, Washington, DC

purchase.6 referred to the Millennials creating an “experience economy” in which the real value of products is tied to the experience the products provide.7 As this translates to a dermatology practice, particularly one which incorporates aesthetic or wellness services, hosting exclusive events or having opportunities available only to your patients develops a sense of community. On a day to day basis, creating a culture that is one of helpfulness and education will create authentic engagement with a consumer who is not focused on accumulating purchases for the objects themselves. Retail consulting firm Marvin Traub describes in their November 2017 op-ed in Business of Fashion that this aspirational class focuses so much on experience-seeking because they are defined “not by their income level, but rather by their life choices,” which “subtly [indicate] social status.”8 This isn’t to suggest that Millennials aren’t spending. Forbes reports that they spend $600 billion annually, which is 28% of all daily per-person consumer spending and they are forecasted to account for 35% of spending by 2030.9 When they do spend, it may be a myth that they want to purchase solely in the digital realm since data suggest that their wish for experiential engagement carries over into the shopping experience. Accenture surveyed more than 1,700 Millennials and 82% preferred a brick-and-mortar store experience to online.10 For practices that have a retail component, this places a premium on retaining highly trained staff who engage with patients and provide a high-touch experience with a focus on individualizing recommendations. Because Millennials are focused on having authentic connections and experiences, staff need to be engaged with discussing products you offer and not repeating information verbatim that could be accessed online. From a design perspective, a retail space that gives an enveloping experience without a generic clinical feeling also favors the feeling that the purchase process itself is a wellness moment of health education and self care.

Taking a Comprehensive Approach

Retail trendspotting blog Field Agent found that Millennials were spending twice as much as baby boomers per month on self care.¹¹ The genre of self care incorporates both physical and mental health with the goal of improving the way one looks and feels. NPR theorized that the rise in popularity of this concept could be a reaction to ubiquity of imagery on social media since “comparing our lives to the perfection we see on the Internet [leads] us to utilizing online tools for self care — and the cycle continues.”¹² In 2017, Pinterest searches for “self care” are up 121%,¹³ and Instagram and Twitter have popular hashtags such as #selfcareisntselfish and #selfcaresunday, around which content and communities are organized.Aesthetic and medical dermatology fall into this spectrum of self care services, and structuring the office visit and office space itself to have elements that are calming and restorative will be appreciated by Millennial patients. For this generation, viewing each appointment as an opportunity to discuss caring for their skin in general and themselves as a whole is an important self care tie-in. For instance, someone who is seeking injectables treatment for the first time will also benefit from a discussion of how to limit ongoing photoaging from sun exposure and pollution via topical antioxidants and broad spectrum sunscreens. They will also benefit from education how to optimize their current skincare regimen, particularly if they are using the popular subscription box approach, which can lead to active ingredient overlap, and what options there are for further smoothing skin texture with retinoids and lasers, as appropriate. Additionally, touchpoints such as offering bottled water, perhaps branded for your office, show that you prioritize this sort of self care as a part of your practice’s ethos.

Building Loyalty

Once Millennials have a positive experience, they are proving to be very brand loyal. Inc. synthesized results from two recent reports on consumer trends to show that “Millennials are also the most loyal generation to their favorite brands, with just over half (50.5%) saying they are extremely loyal or quite loyal to their favorite brands.”14 They attribute this to brands creating authentic, high quality interactions at every touchpoint that earn the consumers’ devotion. This is a key point for medical practices, since younger patients can become loyal patients for decades into the future. It also suggests that, with Millennials having a strong digital footprint, practices need to be sure that their digital presence — even if not robust — reflects their brand voice so that it is an accurate reflection of what patients can expect when seen in person. Social media presence is something for a practice to consider strongly since Millenni-als are highly digitally engaged, but outsourcing this if it won’t have an authentic brand voice is inadvisable since inauthentic social media presence is worse than none at all.One key element Millennials require to continue to engage with brands is transparent and fair pricing. When making a purchase, they will often look up products online prior to pur-chasing to ensure that they are paying a reasonable price or they will have researched this prior to shopping or having an aesthetic consultation. A 2017 report by Internet Marketing Inc. found that 72% of Millennials will do this sort of research prior to shopping.15 This is certainly applicable if your practice offers retail products, but also relevant to pricing of consults and procedures for which Millennials wish to be confident that they are not paying outside of the reasonable range.

Creating a Community

Millennials tend to see the brands with which they choose to surround themselves as important identifiers in their life, and as such will want to understand your values and what value