Why benefits need to be segmented to meet millennial needs

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Most 21-year-old workers don’t have a ton in common with colleagues in their mid-30s. They’re more likely to be in their first jobs rather than established in their careers. They are more socially active and less tied down, with fewer owning property or raising kids.

Yet, the 53.5 million people born between 1982 and 2004 are bucketed into one generation: millennials. Helping them find the right benefits means segmenting them in a more granular way to meet their life-stage needs.

When determining the right benefits, it’s important to understand their preferences. Digital media, including social media, is their most reliable form of communication. When marketing information, think mobile-friendly and across multiple channels and formats, from apps to infographics and video.

Many millennials also are very data-driven and seek validation in the choices they are making, so be sure they have relevant data at their fingertips. Remember also that millennials of all ages depend on family and friends for advice so the more shareable the content, the better. Here are some tips on how to target benefits to millennials.

Offer customized benefit recommendations

Personalization is key when engaging millennials. A custom benefits portal helps employees choose benefits that make sense for them and their specific circumstances. Options and recommendations should be as precise as possible. Many online enrollment engines now offer decision-support tools. These tools can ask questions about personal preferences, such as: do you spend your weekends mountain biking or reading books, and how often do you plan to visit the doctor this year?

Their responses are then put into an algorithm that guides the employee to make the appropriate benefit choices for their lifestyle. It’s no longer a one-size-fits-all approach and there is nothing millennials love more than feeling like their unique needs are being met.

Know your audience: segmentation adds precision

Let’s look at a couple of millennial segments. Keep in mind that people hit different milestones — marriage, parenthood, homeownership, career paths — at different times, so these segments are guidelines, not absolutes.

For this article, we’ll call the older cohort Jessica and Michael, which happen to be the most popular baby names from the 1980s, according to the Social Security Administration. We’ll call the millennials who are roughly late teens to mid-20s Jacob and Emily (the most popular names for the 2000s).

Jessica and Michael: Late 20s to early 30s. Jessica and Michael are usually more established than their younger peers. They’ve hit their career stride. They have better jobs with more responsibility and receive bigger raises. As a result, they have more disposable income. They may be getting married, buying a house and even having kids. They probably have retirement savings accounts and other investments.

At this point in their lives, the more that’s at stake, the more they need to protect.
If they plan to buy a house or become parents, they’ll need to think about life insurance that provides added financial protection for families in case of an untimely death and loss of income. The importance of life insurance isn’t lost on millennials. A full 70% of millennials own life insurance, including individual and group (or both), according to a 2016 LIMRA study. That’s up 10 percentage points from 2010.

When marketing to Jessica or Michael, be sure the value of these benefits for families, as well as individuals, is clear.

Jacob and Emily: Early to mid-20s. Jacob and Emily are starting out in their careers. They’re recent college graduates in their first or second job. They may live with parents or be just starting out on their own. And more are happily single and childless — with plans to stay that way or build a family in the distant future.

For Jacob and Emily, one of the biggest threats to their financial health is a serious injury, illness or accident. They might be less established financially than their older peers, so if any one of these things occurs it could be devastating. And surprisingly, they’re not alone in this. The majority of Americans — nearly six in 10, according to a 2017 Bankrate survey — don’t have enough savings to cover a $500 unplanned expense.

Another thing to consider is that many millennials also enroll in high-deductible health plans, as they don’t plan on incurring many medical expenses and they are attracted to the lower premiums typically attached to these plans. However, out-of-pocket expenses may total thousands of dollars if an injury or illness occurs. If they have not been contributing to their health saving account the money used to reach their deductible could leave them scrambling to pay rent, buy groceries and keep the lights on.

Gap products offer important protections

Many insurance companies offer “gap” products — like accident, critical illness, specified disease and hospital confinement indemnity insurances. These are limited benefit policies and are not health insurance, but they can help with some out-of-pocket expenses. For example, accident insurance coverage may pay a lump sum amount that can be used any way they see fit. Some policies even will even pay an additional sports accident benefit if the insured is injured while playing an organized sport (cue the millennial playing in the company kickball league).

It’s important that these insurance products are offered in conjunction with medical plan offerings. By the time millennials of any age get to the voluntary benefits part of enrollment, they’re often fatigued by the choices they’ve had to make about health insurance and all the other coverages. Since these products are designed to complement certain medical plan choices it makes sense to offer them at the same time an employee elects medical coverage.

Whether you’re targeting Jessica and Michael, or Emily and Jacob, here’s your chance to show them that you see them as individuals with very unique needs. And that’s something that will get all millennials to hit the “Like” button.

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