Dec3

Stories to Tell: Facebook for Health Care Brands

Stories to Tell Facebook for Health Care Brands BLOG Image2We all know Facebook is a powerful storytelling platform for brands. But in health care, FDA regulation and privacy rules often leave us watching our counterparts in consumer marketing with jealousy. A recent example of our work with Hackensack University Medical Center demonstrates not only that health care brands can carry out effective content strategies on social media platforms, it can even be simple to accomplish.

HackensackUMC is consistently rated as the top hospital in New Jersey by US News & World Reports. One particular area of excellence is its nursing program. The hospital is one of just two in the nation to earn the prestigious Magnet nursing designation five consecutive times, representing 20 years of distinction.

Last May, during National Nurses Week, we proposed creating a series of Facebook posts where each day would feature a short story and photo of a HackensackUMC nurse.

The work was minimal: we conducted a 20 minute phone interview with each nurse and asked him or her to provide us with a photo. The response was tremendous: The stories we posted about each nurse quickly became the most engaging content the hospital has ever posted on its Facebook page.

Of particular note, on Wednesday of National Nurses Week, the story of about Dennis Leenig Jr., a pediatric oncology nurse, received over 450 likes, 50 comments and 25 shares. Here’s the post:

It’s not unusual to find Dennis Leenig, Jr. sitting and talking with a patient a half hour after his shift has finished for the day. “Working with leukemia patients, I like that I get to see people through all stages of their care. You get to establish a rapport,” he says. It’s a relationship that continues even after a patient has gone home. Dennis always conducts follow up calls to patients after they’re discharged to see how they’re feeling and to make sure they’re not having trouble getting any medications. “Patients have told me I’m like a son to them and that means the world to me.” Dennis remembers when his own father was a cancer patient at HackensackUMC. A nursing student at the time, it was while visiting his father that he realized his calling was in oncology.

Even more powerful than what we wrote about Dennis, were the testimonials that former patients posted in the comments section. Some excerpts:

Hey Dennis, I remember you well. I felt like I was in expert hands and it was clear to me that your concern for my wellbeing was sincere and genuine. Thank you for making a stressful event a little less so.

We love Dennis and know him well after having many visits to 8PW over the past 4 years with our son. His love and dedication to all patients goes above and beyond. Thank you, Dennis, for all that you do. You have become like family to us.

Dennis, when my uncle was in your care I felt reassured knowing that he had an all-around great guy to help him. He really liked you and spoke highly of you. He fought a good fight but the cancer was too aggressive. I have the utmost respect for what you do on a daily basis and I wanted to thank you again (and the rest of the doctors, nurses, and staff) for everything you did to make his life more comfortable when he was in your care.

The marketing and PR value of these posts is obvious. Who wouldn’t want to go to a place with such compassionate, attentive care? And Dennis was just one of seven nurses we featured that week.

But another benefit of sharing these stories on Facebook is easy to overlook: Facebook as an internal communications tool. The nurses were honored that we thought to interview them for the Facebook page and proud to receive public recognition for their work. And their colleagues enjoyed reading the stories and having a public place to record their praise. It was a morale boost all around.

We are constantly uncovering great stories like Dennis’s. But in this regard, HackensackUMC is not unique. All of our clients’ organizations are brimming with stories.

Maybe it’s easier to find them in a hospital, where nurses are touching lives every hour of every day. But great stories are everywhere–even in corporate settings. What motivated a pharmaceutical company executive to enter the health care industry? Why did a research scientist decide to focus on this particular disease state?

The answers to these questions are personal stories. Telling them brings out the human side of a corporation and pulls employees closer together. New media tools like Facebook make it easy to bring them to the public. And the public is hungry hear these stories from your brand. Especially in health care.

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Also posted in Brand Awareness, Branding, Culture, Digital, Healthcare Communications, Social Media, Strategy | Tagged | Leave a comment
Sep15

Responsive Web Design in Pharma

CREATIVE MOBILE BLOG PHOTO2Data is showing that we are using smartphones more and more for everyday items—searches, purchasing consumer products, travel, weather, and World Cup updates, just to name a few.

We also see smartphone users searching on prescription drugs. Healthcare professionals (HCPs) are using mobile more in their practices, yet the branded drug websites are not optimized for viewing on their phones. We see this as a missed opportunity to provide the information need to the device being used.

 

In the pharma space, we are seeing an uptick with websites moving to a responsive design methodology with consumers—but not with HCPs. We need to understand how HCPs are using their device in the office. By thinking mobile first, we can better serve their needs. Focusing on the user experience with information architecture and content strategy, we can provide the right information to the user, spanning across multiple devices.

 

This would be extremely helpful for our HCPs. If I need to look up a dosing chart for a specific drug while in the exam room, I should be able to use my mobile device to view and interact with the chart. Later, when moving to the desktop, I should have the same content and experience.


RWDP

The chart to the left is a good example to see how content can be organized from the desktop to smartphone. Take note of the design grid and how it responds to device screen sizes.

 

A good example in the pharma space is Forum Pharmaceuticals (forumpharma.com). Simple, easy to navigate, and the experience stays with you through the multiple devices. This makes for a happier end user.

 

 

 

 

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Sep11

Are Apple’s new offerings really ready for healthcare?

RPBLOGApple fans were waiting with bated breath for this week. And in usual Apple style, the company did not disappoint the vast numbers of people who eagerly sat through a staged presentation of the new products Apple will be foisting upon us in the next six months.

The new iPhone 6 is a sleeker, stylish phone with a bigger screen, a plethora of new groundbreaking apps such as Apple Pay, and powerful technology that could make the phone even more personal than it is now.

And as if that were not enough, Apple provided a double-whammy by showcasing the new Apple Watch, a truly innovative and stylish mini device that will change the simple task of telling the time.

With these two new devices, Apple also began to stake a claim in the health and wellness arena.

Let’s take the phone. It comes bearing the next generation of Apple’s powerful M chip—the M8. This chip enables Apple to turn the iPhone into a fitness tracker. The next generation motion coprocessor and sensor will know whether you’re riding a bike, running, or speed walking. It will also be able to estimate distance as well as how far you’ve gone. Finally, it will track elevation, thanks to its very own barometer, which will pick out your relative elevation by measuring air pressure.

All of this data will be collected by the new HealthKit app with powerful and intuitive dashboards and displays to help the owners of the device to begin tracking and analyzing all manner of activities.

The Apple Watch enters a largely unregulated personal health tracker business, taking on Fitbit, Jawbone, and other wearable devices. This is a powerful device. It is a pedometer, a heart-rate monitor, and it comes with a robust array of fitness tracking features, including “rings” to track your movement.

The Move ring will track your normal amount of activity, such as walking. The Exercise ring will track all manner of exercise routines, and the Stand ring will measure how long you stand or sit during the day.

But the watch also becomes your personal coach and will give you customized reminders to reach fitness goals. It will have its own Workout app, which will measure calories, time spent working up a sweat, and a variety of other activities. Finally, it will also gently nag or encourage you toward doing things more slowly than you planned. All of this will be shared with the HealthKit app.

Apple plans to offer a sports version of the watch, which comes with an alloy case that’s 60 percent stronger than the regular version.

The Apple Watch looks like it will become a serious contender in the fitness tracking market, but the steep pricing may make other fitness trackers more appealing to people.

From a regulatory perspective, the Apple Watch, while not being deemed a medical device by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), will be watched closely. The personal health data collected by individuals for their own use is outside the federal laws controlling the use of patient information.

This collection of data opens up a debate on privacy, and as this is health-related data, there will be extra scrutiny on how this data is collected and used, and more importantly, who has access to it.

However, the Feds are closely watching this fast-growing market. The FDA has already issued a list of mobile applications it is watching closely. The list includes software used by individuals to track and log personal data on exercise, food consumption and sleep patterns, and to make suggestions about health and wellness.

The major issue for privacy advocates will be how this personal data is used by the device makers and developers of apps. How marketing uses this data for profiling and targeting will become a place for regulators to identify safeguards.

Apple is also doing its bit and has made it clear to developers of health apps that it wants to protect privacy. This comes on the heels of the broadly covered celebrity hacking debacle that occurred a few weeks ago, opening up a debate about the collection and backup of data from mobile devices that synchronize with the cloud.

Last week, Apple updated its guidelines for health app developers, stating that apps working with HealthKit may not use the personal data gathered for advertising or data-mining uses other than for helping manage an individual’s health and fitness, or for medical research.

The guidelines also say that app developers cannot share data with third parties without the user’s consent.

It will be interesting to see how the FDA, as well as privacy bodies in the more stringent and regulated environments in Europe, deal with the brave new world that Apple is forging for us.

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Mar25

SXSW 2014: True Potential of Social Media in Healthcare Is Still Ahead of Us

sxsw logoOver a single-week period, SXSW Interactive hosts hundreds of presentations and panels. What was interesting to note this year, compared to the last few, is that a large percentage of healthcare discussions were now hosted on the stages of the two main convention centers, alongside all major celebrity keynotes.

Among many trends and ideas that were discussed, two concepts mentioned at the “What Happens When Tech and Healthcare Meet” panel were quite memorable. Although these are just mere single examples, each testified to a number of current trends in healthcare.

Concept: DermLink—a social network-based platform that allows patients to digitally share skin conditions with dermatologists and receive real-time responses.

Why this is important: This is especially relevant to those outside major metropolitan areas, where a wait to see the local dermatologist can exceed a few weeks. We’ve all heard success stories of doctors tapping into a broad pool of peers via Twitter and Facebook. But this platform is among the first controlled, social, care-specific environments that could potentially redefine the approach and expectations for doctor-patient interaction.

Bottom line: Regardless of the success of this platform, the mere fact that this platform is gaining momentum is an indicator that the true potential of social media in healthcare is still ahead of us.

Concept: Covered—a platform that helps applicants select the most appropriate health insurance by posing a series of qualifying questions in a standard, conversational language.

Why this is important: Although standard applications have been around for quite some time, we’re starting to see a shift in the way even insurance companies need to structure their communications. Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed a similar shift in practically every single aspect of marketing communication etiquette due to social media. A simple, well-timed response to a tweet can gain greater consumer loyalty than a multimillion-dollar Super Bowl ad.

Bottom line: Consumers no longer want to be talked at. They want to be spoken with. This is no longer breaking news…rather, a well-known fact. But at last it is finally beginning to change the insurance companies’ tone of interaction with potential applicants.

SXSW Series:

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Feb28

How Can Self-monitoring Best Support Behaviour Change?

3907691Some of today’s biggest public health challenges, such as obesity and  heart disease, can be linked to personal lifestyle decisions. Governments have tried tackling these issues with smoking bans and taxes on high-fat foods, with moderate success. However, personal health behaviour change is needed to make a significant, lasting impact. Can self-monitoring of health information be the answer?

Studies in diabetes, hypertension, medication compliance and weight loss have shown that patients who successfully self-monitor their activities and set personal goals enjoy improved health outcomes and better adherence to treatment 1-6. We now have an abundance of apps and wearable technology at our fingertips to comprehensively track numerous aspects of our lifestyle, analyse results and observe improvements over time. These self-monitoring tools can then be easily integrated into social health networks so that we can share experiences, track our progress against that of our peers, and give and receive advice on how to succeed.

It is estimated that there are more than 40,000 health and fitness apps available. But with this bewildering variety of choice, how can we know which ones will encourage lasting behaviour change?

Easy does it

The apps which make the process of data upload as effortless as possible for the end user are the ones most likely to catch on in the long-term. Devices that automatically record data and synchronise it with online analysis programmes in real time provide a seamless transition and are not hampered by general forgetfulness or lack of time.

Keep it simple

Health information needs to be engaging, and simple enough to be universally accessible. The average person is likely to find sorting the data that matters from what doesn’t time-consuming and intellectually daunting—in fact, many patients who have to actively monitor a condition like type II diabetes don’t always fully engage with self-monitoring for these very reasons.7

Be realistic

Establishing aspirational but realistic goals and providing reinforcing feedback can help bring self-monitoring systems to life and make them personally meaningful.  A recent study into self-monitoring to improve diabetes treatment found that the main concerns patients had with the system were disappointment with unmet expectations and difficulty fitting the programme into the demands of daily life. 1

Collaborate

Ideally, fitness or health tracking app developers should collaborate closely with specialist healthcare providers and device makers as well as social scientists who understand how to bring about behaviour change. Such cross-fertilisation could result in truly useful tools that track fitness alongside other health metrics, such as blood sugar levels or medication adherence.

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1.  Barlow J, et al. Self management approaches for people with chronic conditions: a review. Patient Education Counseling 2002;48:177–87.

2.  Benhamou PY. Improving diabetes management with electronic health records and patients’ health records. Diabetes Metab 2011;37(Suppl 4):S53–6.

3.  Dennis EA, et al. Weight gain prevention for college freshmen: comparing two social cognitive theory-based interventions with and without explicit self-regulation training. J Obes 2012;2012:803769.

4.  Parker R, et al. An electronic medication reminder, supported by a monitoring service, to improve medication compliance for elderly people living independently. J Telemed Telecare 2012;18:156–8.

5.  Ralston JD, et al. Patients’ experience with a diabetes support programme based on an interactive electronic medical record: qualitative study. BMJ 2004;328:1159.

6.  Wagner PJ, et al. Personal health records and hypertension control: a randomized trial. J Am Med Inform Assoc 2012;19:626–34.

7.  Choose Control Survey. Choosing to take control in type 2 diabetes. Available at: http://www.diabetes. org.uk/Documents/Reports/Choose_Control_report.pdf (Last accessed May 2013).

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Feb7

The Age of Wearable Health Technology Is Upon Us

5240666It used to be that technology that conforms to the human body and seamlessly integrates into your environment was stuff of science fiction movies. But if we’ve learned anything over the past 10 years, we know that science fiction is rapidly become science-fact. If you wanted to see what the near future held, all you had to do was tune in to the numerous news feeds covering the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) January 7–10. If there was one trend that seemed to be on every manufacturer’s mind, it was wearable health technology. In fact, CES expanded exhibitor floor space by 40% just for digital health and fitness exhibitors, many of whom were showcasing wearable personal devices.

CES is known as an event where electronics manufacturers like Samsung preview the mainstream consumer electronics that will drive the holiday shopping season. It’s the place where the industry goes to see everything from the latest web-connected refrigerators to the latest mobile chips. And the news from this past CES convention was no different. In the past, consumer electronics companies have been focused on portable, mobile technologies. With the mainstream adoption of smartphones and tablets, consumer electronics companies have continuously tried to innovate by going smaller. It was this evolution from compact, mobile personal technology to wearable technology that was on full display this year at CES. There were smart watches, smart jewelry, and smart glasses, and even mention of integrating technology into fabrics. There was a visible trend toward fashionable, smart, wearable health devices. The core technologies and functionality in many of the wearable gadgets on display were fairly similar, mostly informational apps and health and fitness monitoring, but it was the emphasis on style and technology as an accessory which spoke to how health technology will be more seamlessly integrated into everyone’s everyday life.

After years as a novelty, in 2013 wearable health tech began gaining wider adoption. From primetime TV commercials for the Samsung Galaxy Gear—a watch reminiscent of Dick Tracy’s clunky walkie-talkie wristwatch—to coverage of the debut of Google Glass on local news channels, wearable technology was noticeably all over news and pop culture. You couldn’t take a ride on the New York City subway without seeing at least 5 people with some kind of fitness tracker on their wrist or hip. And those who didn’t have a dedicated tracker likely had some kind of fitness or health-focused app installed on their smartphone. In fact, wearable tech adoption grew from 3% in 2012 to 13% 2013, and that growth has been fueled by growing consumer interest in fitness and personal health monitoring and tracking. As consumers have increasingly begun to take control of their own health, adoption of wearable devices to help them do so has grown. Gartner predicts that the fitness and personal health monitoring trend will grow to a $1.6-billion industry in 2014 and to $5 billion by 2016. As we saw at CES, consumer electronics manufacturers are doing their part to give the trend momentum by making the wearable devices easy to use, fashionable, and less pricey, hoping to appeal to a much wider consumer base. And it’s not just the consumers who will see the benefits of devices that are easier to have and use. New opportunities will continue to arise for healthcare professionals and pharmaceutical companies to play a direct role in wellness and health behaviors through these wearables. As open software standards become more prevalent across devices, it’ll be easier for healthcare marketers to customize programming to suit clients’ needs and integrate wearables into a more personalized patient experience. Here at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide, we’ve already begun to explore how this new channel for engagement can be used toward patient education and adherence. Next Christmas, don’t be surprised if your grandparents or teens ask Santa for a fashionable wearable health device.

What about you? Do you currently own a wearable personal health or fitness device? How has this affected how you manage your and your family’s health?

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Also posted in adherence, behavior change, Consumer Electronics Show, Health & Wellness, Technology, Uncategorized, Wearable Health Technology | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment
May14

Is There Good Karma in Advertising?

buddhaSo much of what we do throughout our careers is interesting…but is it inspiring? Well, we found out recently when the knowledge and information we’ve been exposed to through client work helped me and my wife conceive of and create something entirely new and unexpected. Using the skills we’ve honed while working at ad agencies, my wife and I recently came up with the idea for an iPhone app that aims to improve the world by promoting small changes in daily actions. Basically, we asked the question: what can we do using our advertising knowledge to help make the world a better place? That was the question. “Karmasation” was the answer.

Karmasation, the app we’ve created, is what we somewhat jokingly call an anti-social network. People can post their actions, thoughts, and experiences anonymously and get feedback about whether they deserve good or bad karma. Because users maintain anonymity within Karmasation, they can post honestly. They aren’t speaking to people who know them through various social interactions (as they would on Facebook and Twitter), they’re just speaking to a community of people. Human to human.

The tie-in to social networks, though, comes into play with the idea of gamification, a subject about which we’ve frequently engaged our respective clients. As users participate in Karmasation, they accrue a Karma Profile. Users can simply compete against themselves, or they can share their profiles, posts, and results with Facebook and Twitter to create somewhat of a competition to see who can earn the best karma.

So what type of advertising knowledge were we able to apply while creating the app? And how did that learning continue with Karmasation?
1) The Devil is in the Digital Design. As we’ve worked on different digital platforms for our clients, we’ve learned a bit about clean design and user interaction. Combining that knowledge with being iPhone users ourselves, we had an idea of what would work within the iPhone platform. Are we still learning? Of course! But through our work on our app, we’ve gained a broader understanding of user interaction. We now have a better handle on how users might prefer digital platforms to react and function—not just from an art or copy perspective—but from an overall experience.

2) Bravo for Beta Testing. Again, with the digital platforms we’ve worked on comes testing. The first time my wife worked on a digital presentation, her project manager told her to try and “break it.” And “break it” we did, because before putting an app out there you want to make sure you’ve covered every scenario—not just how you’d use it but also how anyone else might. Because our app has more possible combinations of actions than other projects we’ve worked on, we’ve learned the importance of testing in a systematic way with a greater attention to detail. We also found that as we progressed through the rounds of beta testing, we learned ways to better communicate issues we were finding with our developers. Clear communication between team members who understand different aspects of a project is crucial to getting any problems fixed.

3) The Process of Promotion. The obvious one since we’re in advertising. But this time, we are both the agency and the client. Deciding on your own strategy can sometimes be difficult, and as a result, we now have an added sense of respect for our clients. We continue to work daily to find ways to better promote our app so that more people can know, use and enjoy it.

As we continue with Karmasation and our jobs in advertising, we’ve learned from each experience and have already seen how we can apply our learnings from one circumstance to the other. Like karma, what comes around goes around. And in this case, we’d call it good karma!

 

 

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Mar18

SXSW 2013: Bad Behavior – the Saga of SXSW

sxsw logoAs you act, so you become

Health and digital health are emerging themes at this year’s SXSW.  The chatter is robust, the personalities many, and the health and fitness devices ubiquitous.  The behavior is also legendary.  One notable tweet was: “SXSW is a fountain of knowledge where all go to drink!”  And while this is partly true, it’s the behavior that really got my attention this year—but not what you think.

My observations were around health behavior as it relates to the digital health movement that is taking hold at SXSW.  The “device” was clearly embraced by the attendees.  From higi to dosIQ, the technological mechanics and theories seem to be in place to transform your smartphone to a wellness device that’s going to save your life.  At least, that’s the desired impact.  But it all seems to hinge on this huge leap of faith—will people really do it?

I’m not sure.

Communication must empower innovation

The success of digital health is a function of both technology and a story well told.  We all know about the Higgs particle.  It’s the biggest discovery in physics in the last 100 years.  Some even call it the “God Particle.”  But I challenge anyone to provide a brief description of any aspect of this innovative discovery.  Simply put, there’s a disconnect between the discovery and the relevance.  Similarly, I’m afraid that the mishmash of health devices has become more of a novelty than a true innovation.  And while CERN, the lab that discovered the Higgs particle, continues to receive praise, so do the likes of device manufacturers such as Scanadu, Misfit Wearables, and Fitbit.

Understanding the nature of the health dialogue and how it impacts outcomes is an essential part of the digital health journey.  The complicated discussion of disease is already largely broken in the physician’s office.  And adding to this complexity is the “sell” of digital health.  And conversely, the hectic and often confused lifestyle of a patient (I’m not talking about the fitness freak, where adoption is much simpler) doesn’t bode well for engagement and learning.

So, maybe we need to add a few more presentations at next year’s SXSW around driving the correct behavior when it comes to digital health.  The technology side of the equation seems to be coming together, but the human side is still a bit unclear.  “Build it and they will come” doesn’t always apply to health.  And digital health is no exception, regardless of how cool or sexy.

Check out OCHWW’s other SXSW 2013 blog posts:

SXSW 2013: Small Data in a World of Big Data

SXSW 2013: How Zombies Are Helping Us Get Fit

SXSW 2013: BIG Data and Personal Technology at SXSW

SXSW 2013: The Mobile Healthcare Revolution

SWSW 2013: Empty Information Calories

 

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Mar12

SXSW 2013: The Mobile Healthcare Revolution

Fitness+AppMobile has come to healthcare, and in a big way. From digital healthcare products that created a buzz at CES in January to innovative new fitness apps on display at SXSW this week, it’s clear to see that mobile technology will change the way we manage our health. But it also has the potential to revolutionize healthcare globally.

mHealth apps have the potential to improve patients’ quality of life while at the same time reducing healthcare costs. Remote monitoring of patients will reduce the need for face-to-face consultations, saving patients time and money. Electronic health records (EHRs) save on administrative costs for practices and hospitals. Mobile technology can also help save lives in situations where typically nothing can be done. For instance, a mobile heart monitor allowed a doctor to diagnose heart conditions in passengers in-flight on two separate occasions over the past two years–http://bit.ly/WOFeFt. In one case, he diagnosed the passenger as having a heart attack, which led to the pilot making an emergency landing so the passenger could receive treatment.

While a lot of mHealth focuses on such advanced apps and technologies, simple SMS messages can have a great impact on healthcare as well. SMS appointment reminders can reduce the incidence of missed appointments, while text reminders can increase compliance for patients undergoing treatment for chronic conditions.

TxtAlert, an open source project developed by Praekelt Foundation, has exclusively been used for over two years to send antiretroviral treatment reminders to patients in South Africa. According to a report from GSMA and PricewaterhouseCoopers, the success has been resounding with missed appointment rates declining from 27% to 4%. Additionally, SIMpill, a medication management system that detects noncompliance with medication regimens, uses SMS reminders. Results showed 94% compliance in a tuberculosis trial and a 92% cure rate.

Increased compliance and cure rates coupled with lower costs and less hassle for patients is a perfect recipe for patients and healthcare providers alike to adopt mobile solutions in healthcare. This mobile healthcare revolution has the potential to lead to a much higher quality of life for people the world over.

Check out OCHWW’s other SXSW 2013 blog posts:

SXSW 2013: Small Data in a World of Big Data

SXSW 2013: How Zombies Are Helping Us Get Fit

SXSW 2013: BIG Data and Personal Technology at SXSW

SXSW 2013: Bad Behavior – the Saga of SXSW

SXSW 2013: Empty Information Calories

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Feb15

Catch Us if You Can: Part 1

photo 3Co-authored by Maria Colicchio and Courtney Kober from Ogilvy CommonHealth Wellness Marketing – Parsippany, NJ

A stereotypical image that normally comes to mind when someone mentions “Millennials” or “Gen Y” is a young adult (born after 1980) who is up to their ears in debt from student loans; either unemployed, lazy or working a part-time job that doesn’t utilize their expensive college degree; spends most of their time distracted online or on their phone; lives in their parents’ basement; plays video games; and is delaying both marriage and buying their first home.

Now, we’re not going to lie….this is true for a select few Millennials, but let us tell you how it really is– you may think you know Millennials, but trust us, you don’t.  Read on if you’d like to learn more.

Technology

  • I’m plugged in at all times. And by plugged in, I mean I’m connected to a multitude of Internet-enabled devices, and usually using 2 or 3 screens at the same time: my work PC, my personal MacBook®, an iPhone®, an iPad®, or my Kindle®. Not to mention I can access YouTube, among other things, via my Internet-enabled TV. This connectivity satisfied a need for instant gratification and I’ve grown up with this ability to multitask. My parents might ask how I’m able to focus on a TV show and surf the Web, but it’s just engrained in me.
  • My life is online. And it doesn’t creep me out. But, just because my life is online doesn’t mean I’ll grant the world access to it. I have layers of privacy settings in place so that specific groups of people can see specific parts of my online life. If I’ve chosen to share with you, you can find albums from my graduation, to social gatherings, to my wedding online.
  • I don’t have a landline in my house. I had one briefly as part of a 3-for deal, but ditched it when I moved. If I have to provide contact information for, say, a loyalty program, I have an arsenal of fake phone numbers to give out. I maintain a similar level of privacy with email. I have multiple levels of junk email accounts, and rarely give out my primary email – which I use to Gchat, Google hangout, or email close friends and family.

Money & Managing It

  • Are Millennials struggling? While there’s certainly a significant group of young people who are stressed financially, there are also plenty of affluent young professionals who have accumulated a nice net worth. Now, if you ask Baby Boomers, they will tell you that young people often spend their money without thinking about the long-term implications and buy “silly” items like the latest gadgets and shoes that cost only God knows how much!?! But, the reality is 8 in 10 Millennials save a third (32 percent) of their monthly income.
  • Budgeting. Here’s a little secret I’ll let you in on: Millennials like to manage a budget via credit/debit card because it’s easier and everything is trackable through online banking or apps. Plus, nobody carries that much cash on them anymore.
  • I’ll admit it, I don’t know everything. So, I haven’t completely figured out how this whole personal finance thing really works. But I do take full advantage of the free financial tools available–my personal favorite is Mint.com. The question is whether other Millennials have the willpower to take control over their financial situations, and I happen to think we do.

Purchasing

  • I don’t need to touch the items that I buy. Contrary to other generations, I don’t feel the need to touch or try out things that I buy. I’m more than happy to make a purchase online and am more likely to trust the recommendation of strangers, as opposed to my friends. I’m comfortable ordering food, clothing, or homeware from an online merchant, as long as they have a good return policy.
  • I love a good deal. But, doesn’t everybody? The difference between my generation and others is the way we find deals. I research pricing in depth–combing several sites for cost comparisons and cross-checking against product reviews. If I’m at home, I’ve got several browser windows open, checking a variety of factors before settling into a purchase. Or, if I’m at the mall, I’ll trek between several stores to find the best deal. You can bet I’ve also scanned a potential item into my phone to research prices, see if better deals exist online (coupon codes!) or if there are any major negative reviews.
  • Food shopping is a breeze. As a Millennial, I’ve become accustomed to quick food shopping. My grocery list is saved in an app that categorizes food by aisle, making it easy to maneuver around the store without trekking back and forth between aisles. With handheld (or even mobile device) scanning, I scan and bag as I go, which means I don’t have to ever wait in line at the checkout. If I’m in a jam, I can even quickly send the grocery list that I’ve saved in-app to my store, and they’ll deliver the groceries to my door.
  • Don’t ignore me. Millennials have the largest potential for spending–over $200 billion in spending power, according to Kelton Research. So, while I do like to be thrifty, if I set my mind to it, I can absolutely purchase large or luxury items.

Stay tuned for Catch Us if You Can: Part 2

Other great articles on Millennials to check out:

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