We all have stereotypes of Gen Zers—even those of us (like your humble author) who belong to it. We’re a generation obsessed with image and status, content to while away the hours scrolling through social media, vaguely concerned with social justice and the state of the world but too apathetic or anesthetized to do much about it.
Maybe the same has been said of every other generation, but there’s a certain perception that Gen Zers don’t really, well, do anything. Ah, well. They’re still young.
But that stereotype isn’t entirely accurate. Gen Zers are active, but not necessarily vocal about it—they know that they’re a rising force, not an established one, and need to bide their time. In politics, the arts, and business, Gen Zers are laying the seeds for their eventual takeover. That’s as true of finance as anywhere else. More than half of Gen Zers between ages 18 and 25 hold some form of investment, according to Investopedia.
Predictably, many get their investment advice from social media: following trends urging them to look into this or that stock, or seize the opportunity of an unknown new form of investment. This might be where you roll your eyes and shake your head at naive kids—or you could see it as an opportunity. Companies in the finance and fintech spaces have a massive and largely untapped audience looking for guidance.
Especially now—as Gen Z for the first time finds itself in a bear market—the right tone and attitude in your communications can win them over to your side. Challenging times teach us more than easy ones. Coming of age in a downturn can impart valuable lessons for rising investors, and there’s no doubt that Gen Z has a lot to learn.
So: how are finance and fintech firms seizing the opportunity to connect with Gen Z at a pivotal moment?
Educate and inform (while having fun)
Zogo isn’t a bank or an investment platform. It’s a suite of educational products that help budding investors learn about the market and smart financial decisions. The company’s flagship product is a mobile app with lessons and quizzes, delivered in a gamified style that keeps users hooked. Think of it as Duolingo for investment.
It delivers consequential information with a smile. The questions, all multiple-choice, are fairly simple, growing more complicated as users master the material. Plus, users earn “pineapples,” which they can exchange for real rewards in the app’s Marketplace. Taken altogether, it’s not so different from an app like Candy Crush or any of the other addictive mobile games Gen Zers know and love.
For young people who grew up on video games and mobile apps, this kind of interface is a godsend—at least for those who didn’t major in economics. (Full disclosure: I didn’t, and I’m probably exactly the demographic that Zogo wants to capture.)
It’s worth noting, however, that gamification poses risks for companies. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has expressed concern about the gamification of investment—in particular, brokerages that may turn to Zogo and similar apps to inspire more buying and selling. That said, Zogo may be in a safe zone, since it focuses on education rather than real money. However, if your services involve real users spending real cash on investments, don’t lean too heavily on the “fun” side: your users need to know exactly what they’re getting into.
Demonstrate your social conscience
Who is the most notable member of Gen Z? It may not be a TikTok star or a pop icon, but instead Greta Thunberg, a teenager whose United Nations speech came to symbolize a young generation’s frustration with their elders’ inaction in the face of global calamity. The symbols of this inaction are the traditional behemoths of industry, including large financial institutions once thought trustworthy.
It’s a ripe space for companies to show young investors that they care about the same things. Aspiration Financial boldly proclaims its investment in a carbon-free future at the top of its website: “A net-zero future is possible.” But even as it espouses lofty ambitions, it stays away from rhetoric that might seem too revolutionary. The company “[empowers] business to change climate change,” taking a clear stance: it’s possible for the market, with the right prodding from socially responsible investors, to offer climate solutions.
On its “Who We Are” page, Aspiration claims, “We didn’t set out to build a bank. We set out to build a better world.” For Gen Zers with childhood memories of the 2008 financial crisis and formative experiences of corporate greed, this distance from traditional financial institutions isn’t unnerving: it’s actually reassuring.
There’s an additional challenge here, of course: how do you back up your claims with real action? A message alone isn’t enough: you need action if you want inquisitive Gen Zers to buy what you’re trying to sell them. There’s really just no way around it: a connection has to be founded on something real.
Build a community
Loneliness affects people of all generations, but Gen Z in particular has struggled with social isolation—compounded by the arrival of a global pandemic at the beginning of their adulthood. Gen Zers look for brands that can help them bridge the gap.
Finary is trying to do just that, bringing together investment portfolios and social media profiles to create a strange yet intriguing hybrid. It invites users to “share charts, trades, and so much more.”
In a way, this isn’t too different from what goes on already on other platforms, such as Reddit’s infamous r/wallstreetbets forum, responsible for launching the “meme stocks” explosion in early 2021.
There might be certain risks to combining finance with social media in this way, in the same manner that gamification has raised concerns with financial regulators. It remains to be seen how this trend will play out.
A credit management company got a trans-Atlantic spin
Having developed a thriving credit management business stateside, Regal Credit Management wanted to expand to the United Kingdom. However, with scarce experience across the Atlantic, it was hard to get the right tone for British customers, especially ones unfamiliar with credit management. But after tapping MarketSmiths (especially the resident Brits!) Regal—known as PM Credit Management in the U.K.—soon found the right path. With tight deadlines, we revamped everything from Regal’s website to promotional flyers to product names—all to make them sing for new British audiences. Our hard work soon paid off. Regal quickly saw increased client interest, and used our copy to boost its credentials with partners in London. In short, we’ve helped secure Regal a foothold in the old world—and get the British public on the road to stronger credit.
Don’t underestimate Gen Zers
The most important thing to remember is this: Gen Z may be young, but they’re not naive. They may not have invested in a bear market before, but they remember when the market crashed in their childhood, and they know that things can’t go up and up forever.
That’s why it’s crucial, when talking with Gen Z from the standpoint of the financial sector, you don’t—for lack of a better way of putting it—serve them a load of B.S. Transparency is key.
Want to better connect with your audience? MarketSmiths has a skilled staff and an extensive portfolio across the financial services industry. We know how to connect with diverse audiences. Many of our staff are Gen Zers themselves, equipped with first-hand experience to help your brand forge a bond with young investors.
Contact us today to get started.