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Taking a pulse on Health & Wellness trends

March 10, 2022
A scientist sits in a lab with a white coat while using a microscope.

Reaching consumers early in their research phase

Now more than ever, consumers are taking an active role in their health. They’re getting specific when researching conditions, symptoms, and treatments. That’s a good thing, too. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), chronic diseases are the leading driver of $3.8 trillion in annual health care costs in the US1 What’s more, six in 10 adults in the US have a chronic disease, and four in 10 adults have two or more.1

The high prevalence of disease, coupled with soaring health care costs, means health and wellness brands need to be ready to meet consumers with information as they seek to diagnose and manage their conditions. Doing that means having the best audience information available. Microsoft Advertising understands the increasing importance of health and wellness in customers’ lives and has some interesting new information. We hosted a webinar—now available on-demand—to dive into how advertisers can evolve to reach these consumers.

Self-Care Enthusiasts are 25% more likely to research health issues2

Marketers can’t achieve their goals without a deep understanding of audiences. Our goal at Microsoft Advertising is to help brands better engage with their audiences to have the biggest impact. We’ve used our first-party data to identify emerging attitudes and behaviors and create personas, one of which is the Self-Care Enthusiast. This consumer is spending time where it matters most, whether with family, mental health, preventative care, or fitness. They value self, time, health, and well-being above all else. This audience is working hard. Self-Care Enthusiasts consistently multitask between work, school, life and leisure activities. They can be found online and on Microsoft Advertising, where they are 38% more likely to purchase exercise equipment online and 25% more likely to research health issues and healthcare products than the average internet user.2

Diagnosing our audience’s decision journeys

A recent survey by Deloitte found that 80% of biopharma leaders believe changing consumer attitudes and behavior is the top issue for their company.3 As we discover these changing trends and differences in behavior, we better understand how to meet audiences where they are with what they need.

Our recently conducted research focused on understanding how and where people find information about symptoms they’re experiencing. We wanted to know what happens after they receive a diagnosis and when prescribed a new medication. Regardless of where people are in their journey, we evaluated how they found information regarding their diagnosis: before diagnosis, while experiencing symptoms, and after diagnosis.

Nearly 50% of respondents used search to research symptoms3

Results showing that digital channels were the most used for research before and after a diagnosis.

Not surprisingly, digital channels play a key role across the diagnosis journey, with search engines—according to 49% of respondents—and symptom checkers—according to 41% of respondents—being the top channels for researching symptoms.3

Once diagnosed, 47% of respondents use a specialist as their primary source of information; however, they still do their own research. Search engines are the second source of information for 43% of respondents.3

When receiving a new prescription, 82% of people will research that medication, with search being the most often used research channel for 69% of respondents.3 With the heavy reliance on digital channels, it’s imperative that brands show up and present the correct information based on the individual’s healthcare journey.

Search trends that passed the test

We know that search is crucial to a health and wellness consumer’s journey, and relying on search as a source of health information continues to trend upwards.5 We wanted to know how consumers’ searches changed and what patterns they followed throughout the pandemic. To find out, we used rich first-party Microsoft Advertising data to understand how health and wellness search behavior has changed over time.

Results showing that search as a source of health information continues to trend upwards.

Some key insights we found:

  • Conditions linked to coronavirus or a vaccine saw the greatest upward trend in search volume.4
  • Specialist conditions experienced the most significant decrease in search volume.4
  • Those looking for online health solutions are particularly interested in ways to diagnose depression, find support groups, and purchase prescription medication online.4
  • When looking for affordable options, consumers are most likely to visit GoodRx. Fewer users search for a medication name with keywords that point to affordability (coupon or deal).4

Watch Taking a Pulse to learn more

It’s never too early to adjust, test, and test some more.

Watch our webcast now to learn more about the evolving health and wellness landscape and have the information needed to plan during these unpredictable times.

You’ll find insights and more, including:

  • Learning how partnerships create innovative solutions affecting patients and healthcare institutions.
  • Diagnosing different audiences’ decision journeys.
  • Analyzing search behavior trends with new insights.
  • Treating your digital transformation for an optimistic recovery.

[1] Chronic Diseases in America | CDC.
[2] Global Web Index, US, June 2020 – June 2021.
[3] Pharmaceutical industry trends | Deloitte Insights.
[4] Microsoft Advertising, Health and Wellness Consumer Survey, Kelli Kemmery
[5] Microsoft internal search data, October 2018 – October 2021.


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