Case Study

Using a Robust Mobile Qualitative Research Plan to Help a Financial Institution Win with Gen Z


As the banking consumers of the near future, Gen Zers are being heavily courted by startup fintechs urging them to ditch traditional financial instruments like debit and credit cards. So, how can a leading financial institution show Gen Z that their brand is still relevant and responsive?

This was the question on the minds of leaders at a well-known financial institution when they came to C+R looking for help understanding Gen Z (as a whole and as financial consumers).

To help the client quickly get to know this generation, our research team designed a three-phase market research program. By the end of the research, the company had a deeper understanding of Gen Z’s unique needs and more than 65 new ideas for attracting this segment’s business. 


Understanding Gen Z’s Banking Needs and Wishes

Our client, a leading financial institution, recognized the growing importance of the Gen Z cohort and wanted to gain a competitive advantage by finding fun and unique ways to communicate their brand to these prospective consumers.

The client needed robust, exploratory research to help them understand the cohort’s values, motivations, and preferences – both from a financial perspective and in general. The company also wanted C+R to lead a virtual strategy workshop to help their team members digest previously conducted market research and ideate ways to meet this upcoming generation’s needs.


A Three-Phase Market Research Program

C+R led a three-phase market research program to help our client get to know their Gen Z target. First, we hosted a Gen Z grounding session using C+R’s proprietary research and knowledge of this unique cohort. 

Next, to give our clients an in-depth look into the lives of Gen Z consumers, we created an immersive mobile hub/community. The mobile hub/community included 40 Gen Z participants ages 14 to 23 (and parents, for those under 18). Half of the participants were high school-age, and half were college students or working. We recruited a mix of ethnicities, U.S. geographic locations, and household incomes and compositions. Over the course of two weeks, participants posted videos, answered questions, shared their social media posts, and participated in live interviews to discuss their views on life in general and financial/banking needs and concerns in particular. 

In the final research phase, we hosted a two-part virtual strategy session to help our client align on the research and ideate against the findings. Due to the importance of the initiative within the company, approximately 30 individuals from various sides of the business participated in the strategy session.

During the first strategy session, C+R presented findings from the first two phases of research. Two other vendors, who had worked on separate but complementary pieces of research, also presented findings. Next, the larger group of 30 separated into 5 smaller breakout rooms to digest and discuss the findings. C+R staff captured the client team’s learnings via an online whiteboard; notes were then used as inspiration for Session 2.

Due to client scheduling needs, the first and second strategy sessions were held two weeks apart. To help elicit additional inspiration and keep research findings fresh, participants were assigned two quick and fun pieces of “homework”: find examples of how other companies market to and attract Gen Z and record memorable learnings from the Session 1 presentations. Prior to the second strategy workshop, C+R collected the assignments and distilled examples into themes to help participants ideate against.

During the second strategy workshop, the client team generated ideas to capture Gen Z’s interest via marketing, products, and experiences. A series of breakout rooms allowed smaller client groups to focus on key themes. For each idea, a C+R staff member captured the name, a brief description of what it entailed, why it mattered to Gen Z, and any inspiration sources the client could leverage to ensure the idea met Gen Z’s unique needs.

The result

Ready to Meet All of Gen Z’s Banking Needs

Through the grounding session and mobile qualitative research study, our client learned a ton about Gen Z’s unique needs and wishes, in general, but also in terms of finances and banking. During the strategy workshops, the client team generated 65+ ideas across 3 themes to address Gen Z’s wishes and needs. In the final strategy workshop, the client team prioritized the top opportunities to pursue. 

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