Health, Wellness, and the Millennial Woman: Insights From Influenster

Posted by Allison Herman from Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide — North America on August 3, 2018



What is Influenster?

Last month, I was lucky enough to be invited to a conference at the Influenster headquarters (which, by the way, is a pretty cool office). Influenster is a digital platform for product discovery and consumer reviews. Launched in 2010, Influenster has just hit the incredible number of 26 million reviews on their site from over 4 million users. Users click on a trending topic or featured post, or search for a key term; they can then review products, ask each other for advice, share helpful hints, create lists of products that they categorize together for any purpose, and more.



What was the focus of the conference?

In May of 2018, Influenster conducted a survey of their largest demographic: millennial women (20-37) living in the United States. The questions Influenster asked aimed to glean information about the caregiving habits of these women. 10,000 respondents were asked first about their own health, then about the health of any individuals for whom they are caregivers. Almost half of the women surveyed were between the ages of 20 and 25.


According to the AARP, one out of four caregivers is a millennial. Of those surveyed by Influenster, unsurprisingly, 27% are caregivers for their children. However, an even larger percentage of millennial women are caring for their spouses and parents—56% and 44%, respectively. These women are caring for loved ones spanning across a wide range of ages, despite their own relative youth.


They also may be under a lot of pressure, as 65% of respondents are the sole caregiver for their relative. Due to their role, it is unsurprising that 39% of these women are “almost always involved” with treatment decisions and another 41% are “usually or often involved.” Additionally, 2/3 of the women surveyed agreed that they would be interested in learning more about their loved one’s condition or treatment options. These caregivers are going to be influencing the patient and their decisions.


Is the Influenster experience relevant to marketers?

As an intern at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide who is immersed in the nuances of how we communicate about health and wellness, I was curious to see if Influenster had the potential to interact with serious health issues, so I dove in with a search for “cancer.” Immediately, Influenster brought up lists, articles, boxes (collections of related products, often based on a theme), and forums that mention the disease.


One significant group of posts was about improving self-confidence for patients and their caregivers, featuring titles like “cancer bag must haves” and boxes such as “Beautiful Despite Cancer.” Due to the specificity of the topic of cancer, not all of these posts have thousands of likes or comments, but they are being shared, and talked about, by passionate people who can truly relate to and appreciate their message.



These posts compile beauty and personal care items that cancer patients, and possibly caregivers, can use, focusing on the fact that women can still be beautiful and care about the smaller aspects of life when they have cancer. Pharma communications tend to focus on the big, heavy aspects of being sick, but these women still think about the little things between and beyond traditional treatments, like putting on lotion or makeup. Life for these patients and caregivers exists outside of doctor visits and treatment—even if illness is a pervasive aspect of their lives, it is not their defining character. Platforms like Influenster remind us that patients and caregivers are still well-rounded humans, and we need to be looking holistically at their journeys both in and outside of the doctor’s office.



The other big category featured on the site is about shopping with a purpose, highlighting lists such as “10 Products that Support the Fight against Breast Cancer” and “Go Pink! What YOU can do for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” These posts recommend products whose proceeds go to breast cancer foundations. The popularity of this type of content shows that many women view shopping, product recommendations, and product choices as not just a way to combine passions, but as a form of activism.



As healthcare marketers, we may assume that millennials are too young to be involved in or care about healthcare decisions, but the Influenster survey shows that this is not the case. As the example with cancer shows, millennial caregivers and patients have a desire to be informed and their own ways of learning about serious diseases. Pamphlets and brochures, even interactive videos, are overdone, but using a platform like Influenster for pharma is new and unique. This attitude—that healthcare isn’t a separate world from fun and, at times, even mundane activities—and the accompanying behaviors are insights that we can take into account for all kinds of future instances of marketing targeted to millennial women.