Gen Z and Millennial Wellness

Trends / Wellness
Sophie Mayanne
Rebecca Rom-Frank
Jan 19, 2021
At Getty Images, we've written extensively about the importance of including seniors in the picture of holistic wellness—but what about younger generations? Our Visual GPS research revealed that Gen Z and Millennials place a special importance on mental health, value both self‑care and traditional care, and expect technology to help them achieve their wellness goals. We also found that, globally, 76% of Gen Z and Millennials prefer to see visuals in advertising, compared with just 48% of Baby Boomers, so getting health and wellness visuals right for younger age groups will make a significant impression.
Mental Health
Gen Z and Millennials take mental health seriously, so visuals showing what young people do to gain peace of mind will resonate with them. Our Visual GPS research revealed that in fact, Gen Z and Millennials (53%) are more likely than Baby Boomers (41%) to find it hard to keep up with the pace of today’s world. While all generations agree that people should talk about mental health, younger generations are more likely than Baby Boomers to tackle their problems independently, through stress management techniques or meditation. Still, the younger generations at the helm of the “creative class” are twice as likely to learn a new skill or engage in artistic activities like crafting, painting, and photography, rather than practice relaxation exercises.

The Covid‑19 pandemic sparked a global conversation about mental health, but at its onset in April 2020, Gen Z and Millennials actually reported lower stress levels (‑8%) than usual. For some consumers, the lockdowns brought relief from long commutes and the pressures of consumer culture, which suggests that the “pause” on normal life gave young people more time to enjoy simple pleasures and creative activities. At Getty Images, in the past, top‑selling visual stories about young peoples’ mental health tended to show isolation, shame, or bullying. Here, there is an opportunity for brands to connect with younger consumers by celebrating the ways that they improve their mental health during tough times: by simply slowing down.
Self‑Care vs. Traditional Care
Younger generations may be more focused on preventative “self‑care” activities such as exercise and celebrating the good things in their lives, but traditional care still fits into their picture of good health, too. When we tested visuals with consumers, visuals showing a group exercise class resonated well with Gen Z and Millennials—but every single generation, young and old, preferred imagery showing a collaborative doctor‑and‑patient relationship in a clinical care setting. And despite evidence that Millennials are more likely than Baby Boomers to seek out “alternative” care, visuals showing acupuncture and even telemedicine resonated far less for all age groups.

Among the most popular content on Getty Images and iStock in 2019, we saw twice as many images showing Seniors in a clinical care setting than younger generations. Our Visual GPS research confirms that younger generations are half as likely to get checkup than Baby Boomers—but for some consumers, that may not be a choice. For example, the US does not have a universal healthcare system, which means that 1 in 5 Millennials can’t afford their routine healthcare expenses. So, in the interest of picturing an inclusive future to which companies and consumers alike can aspire, don’t leave Gen Z and Millennials out of the picture when it comes to traditional clinical care. In addition to showing the emotional benefits of group activities and exercise, choose visuals that show younger age groups connecting with their primary care doctor in person, too.
Now that there’s an app for everything, younger generations expect health and wellness to be at their fingertips—from finding a doctor, to following a guided meditation, or even tracing a potential Covid‑19 exposure. Gen Z and Millennials are almost twice as likely as Baby Boomers to expect digital capabilities that make traditional care more accessible, such as booking appointments, viewing test results online, and telemedicine. Our Visual GPS research confirms that technology is a seamless part of younger generations’ daily lives: 4 in 5 say that technology helps them track personal goals, and 3 in 4 say they are always finding new ways that technology makes their lives easier.

Because younger generations are so plugged in, they are also more likely to experience the downsides of technology. Ironically, Gen Z and Millennials are almost twice as likely as Baby Boomers to say that they use technology devices to remind themselves to disconnect from technology, and by that same token, they only want to use technology if it adds value to their experience with a product. The key, then, is to show specifically how technology fits into the lives of these tech‑savvy yet discerning younger generations. Choose visuals that show a digital tablet facilitating a clinical care appointment, a laptop enabling a virtual yoga class, or a smartphone keeping young people connected and entertained, even when they’re alone at home. Center the human story, show the context (and the screen, when possible), be inclusive, and don’t forget that, sometimes, young people like to unplug, too.
Visualising Healthcare in Australia and New Zealand