Positive and Authentic Experiences
Motivate Millennials Toward Addiction Treatment

Millennials Value Experiences 

Millennials (born 1981 – 1996) have gained a reputation for valuing experiences over material possessions. When it comes to money, ‘experiences’ trump ‘things’: More than 3 in 4 millennials (78%) would choose to spend money on a desirable experience or event over buying something desirable, and 55% of millennials say they’re spending more on events and live experiences than ever before.1 An earlier study by Harris Group found that 72% of millennials would rather spend their hard-earned money on an experience rather than a product.2 Those results indicate this trend is growing for this demographic. Even typical status purchases such as homes and vehicles are taking a backseat to vacations and events.

For this group, happiness isn’t based on status or possessions. They believe in living a meaningful life through creating, sharing, and capturing memories. These memories are earned through experiences from a wide spectrum of positive and authentic experiences.

Driving the Experience Economy Forward

With millennials now accounting for over one-fourth of the total U.S. population, their high focus on life experiences supports the growth of an economy driven by the consumption of experience rather than products.2

The majority of this demographic is now in the workforce and they command an estimated $1.3 trillion in annual consumer spending.2 The combination of this generation’s interest in events, and their increasing ability to spend, is driving the growth of the experience economy.

Treatment centers wanting to appeal to this generation should highlight the benefits and positive experiences in treatment and beyond.

How to Influence Millenial Motivation Toward Treatment

When seeking treatment, the initial requirement is for the client to have the motivation to participate and do the work required of them to change. Within the clinical experience, motivation has been viewed as a static trait that the client either possessed or lacked.3 Motivation for treatment meant that the client would have a willingness to participate in a program’s prescription for recovery.3 But, motivation can be created, supported, and increased.

7 TIPs for Motivation 

The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and released Treatment Improvement Protocols (TIP) in 1999 that include 7 keys to the nature of motivation for clients seeking addiction treatment.3

The TIPs include:

  1. Motivation is a key to change.
  2. Motivation is multidimensional.
  3. Motivation is dynamic and fluctuating.
  4. Motivation is influenced by social interactions.
  5. Motivation can be modified.
  6. Motivation is influenced by the clinician’s style.
  7. The clinician’s task is to elicit and enhance motivation.

Leverage Motivation for Website Conversions 

By remembering these seven keys when marketing, savvy addiction treatment centers can proactively address the reasons potential clients resist treatment. Marketing should target the motivating reasons for a person to seek treatment. One way is to convince potential clients that addiction treatment improves life’s experiences, which millennials value so highly.

Although internal factors are the basis for change, external factors are the conditions of change. An individual’s motivation to change can be strongly influenced by family, friends, emotions, and community support.3

Transparency and Authenticity in Brand Messaging is Key to Success

According to a 2014 study on brand authenticity by Cohn & Wolfe, the number one quality or behavior which people demand of brands is communicating honestly about products and services.4 This quality of honesty is followed by not letting customers down and acting with integrity at all times.4

Communication has Evolved Between Brand and Consumers

Traditional marketing spoke to things like innovation, superior products, and having a well-known brand as the cornerstones of an effective brand strategy. It appears that is no longer how consumers judge brands.

Today’s customers expect a more open and honest relationship with brands which is based on truthfulness and integrity. They also expect there to be mutual respect and responsibility between brand and consumer.4

The Internet Drives Transparency 

This change in consumer preferences came about after the internet and social media opened communication up to the masses. This meant that companies could no longer conceal information, providing only what they wanted to be known.3

The evolution of the internet has given a voice to everyone. This means that anyone with access to the internet or a smartphone can now be a potential reporter and create a message that can reach millions. A single person having that sort of wide-spread impact would have been unheard of 15-20 years ago.

Developing a high level of trust and transparency is particularly important for businesses such as addiction treatment centers where their service is highly trust and integrity driven.

Clinicians Talk About the Importance of Positive and Authentic Experiences

Active Marketing conducted research by interviewing addiction treatment clinicians to determine what were the primary motivators of those seeking treatment. Viewing treatment as a positive experience rather than a punishment or forced participation was a notable motivator according to the clinicians we spoke with.

Melanie’s Observations 

“You know, I think they’re looking for themselves before the addiction. Like who they truly are but for those that started early, you know, they’re not gonna define that. So it is to recreate yourself. You know, it’s about bringing in those positive attributes with treatment to help you find a new self but kind of bringing yourself along.”

There is a feeling among those seeking treatment where they are looking to better themselves or return to who they were before their addiction took control. It is important to illustrate a positive process to help them reclaim their lives.

” You know, like you’re not a completely new person but we’re gonna help you get where you wanna be. We’re gonna help you become the person you wanna be whether it’s the person you were or the person you never were.”

Finding genuine support within a treatment center is a pivotal experience for clients. For many, they have exhausted the emotional capabilities of their families or they didn’t have supportive families, to begin with. Finding supportive people who understand their struggles is a monumentally large positive influence on treatment.

Sara’s Observations  

“So, I’ve noticed that a lot of the clients really respond well to our treatment center because we’re very, very almost like family-oriented, and we genuinely care about the clients. And I think they need that type of, like, genuine support because it’s something they haven’t had in a long time, and they experience a lot of shame and guilt that they’re using.”

How Addiction Treatment Centers Can Promote Positive and Authentic Experiences

Treatment centers should focus on the motivations of millennials and their desire to have positive experiences by showcasing what they will gain by pursuing treatment.

Benefits of treatment that are particularly attractive to millennials include:

Personal connections



Empowerment through education 


Healing damaged family relationships 



Personal growth

Continued support network 

Positive Addiction Treatment Experiences to Feature 

Associating your addiction treatment center with the positive experiences that millennials value will create corresponding value for your brand. Using examples of positive experiences found within treatment will create an associated positive feeling for your treatment center. Use positive experiences as part of your marketing.

Examples of positive experiences to feature include:

Facility amenities 

Community volunteering 

Social outings 

Nature immersion 

Family therapy 

Cultural experiences 

Treatment “family” dinners

How to Show Authenticity Through Marketing Massaging

Marketing for addiction treatment centers should focus on showing positive experiences to appeal to millennials who prioritize investing in experiences. A solid marketing strategy always has multiple approaches and smart marketing will visually speak to the message.

A basic marketing plan for showing the positive experiences associated with addiction treatment should involve, at minimum, the following three components.

Alumni Testimonials 

Video testimonials are arguably the most powerful form of marketing. It combines video, word-of-mouth recommendation, and an inspirational look at the ‘end result’, all of which are powerful aspect of marketing messaging. According to research by NCBI, through mirror neurons, our brains experience what we see on video much like if we experienced it first-hand, which makes video a powerful marketing tool.5

Our brains also process up to 95% of what we see, versus only 20% of what we read.6 Storytelling has a similar effect on memory and the ability to relate and resonate with a message. Experiments show that adding a story to market a product can increase its value by up to 6,258.58%.7

Video testimonials will combine the power of video with the resonance of a story for one of the most effective tools in an addiction treatment center’s marketing arsenal.

Virtual Facility and Program Tours 

Just as video testimonials will boost brand value, video and photos of the facility and programs will allow potential clients to relate to the program before enrolling. Video and photos both create a behind the scenes look at the programs your treatment center offers. Your brand will create a positive impression on potential clients.

Social Media Engagement  

Social media is a must-use tactic for marketing to millennials. Growing up as digital natives has made this demographic particularly media and internet savvy. According to Pew Research, more than nine-in-ten millennials (93%) own smartphones, compared with 90% of Gen Xers (those ages 39 to 54 this year) and 68% of Baby Boomers (ages 55 to 73).8

The vast majority of millennials (86%) say they use social media, compared with smaller shares among older generations.8 If 8 out of every 10 potential clients are on social media, your treatment center should be too. Social media is an excellent place to showcase the personality of your treatment center.

The Importance of Mobile Friendly Content

It is important to make sure all of your content is mobile friendly – even on social media. Almost all millennials (nearly 100%) now say they use the internet, and 19% of them are smartphone-only internet users – that is, they own a smartphone but do not have broadband internet service at home.8

Key Takeaways on Effective Marketing Messaging  

If you are looking to reach the millennial demographic, give them the relatable content they desire on the platforms they interact with the most. That is visual content (video, pictures) on social media. Make sure the visual content stresses the experience your treatment center provides and how treatment will improve the quality of the potential client’s life. Use these tools to create motivation for recovery and drive traffic to your facility.

Learn More About Positive and Authentic Experience Marketing 

Active Marketing has transformed addiction treatment businesses with our strategic horsepower. We have proven experience developing and executing marketing strategies that get your brand’s best messaging in front of the right people at the right time and place. Our impact on our clients’ bottom lines changes the way they do business. We’d love to talk to you more about your potential. Give us a call today: (877) 814-5716