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Gen Z are the banking consumers of the near future and are currently being heavily courted by startup fintechs, urging them to ditch traditional financial instruments like debit and credit cards. So what should a leading, established financial institution do to show Gen Z that their brand is not only relevant to their lives, but responsive to their needs?

This was the dilemma faced by our client, an established, well-known financial institution. They approached C+R for help in understanding Gen Z (as a whole and as financial consumers) and for creating winning ideas for capturing the interest and business of this growing and vocal consumer base. 

Our research team conducted a multi-phase market research program to help our client better understand Gen Z, which included a Gen Z grounding session, mobile qualitative research, and fun and engaging strategy workshops filled with activities to promote idea generation. At the end of the research, our client had a deeper understanding of Gen Z’s unique needs, as well as over 65 new ideas to help their brand attract this segment’s business. 

Problem

Our client, a leading financial institution, recognized the growing importance of the Gen Z cohort to their business; therefore, they wanted to gain a competitive advantage by finding fun and unique ways to engage and communicate their brand as well as educate this next generation of banking consumers. 

To learn more about this segment, they asked C+R to conduct robust, exploratory research to learn about the values, motivations, and preferences of this cohort – both from a financial perspective and in general. They also asked C+R to lead a virtual strategy workshop to help their team members get up to speed from previously conducted market research findings and then ideate ways to meet their uncovered needs. The C+R team also had to come up with creative ways to keep the large client team engaged using an online platform while meeting the all the objectives of this research study – digesting their previous findings and creating strategies for winning Gen Z’s business.  

Result

Through the grounding session and the mobile qualitative research study, our client learned more about Gen Z’s unique needs and wishes, not only in general, but with finances and banking more specifically.

During the two strategy workshops, the clients created 65 ideas across three themes to address their wishes and needs during the first two phases of market research. In the final strategy workshop, the client team was able to prioritize the top opportunities they wanted to pursue. 

After the strategy sessions, the client had relevant information about Gen Z’s needs and values in regard to finances and banking, as well as ideas for how to connect with them and win their business. The client team was also able to educate others in their organization on Gen Z's needs. 

Solution

C+R led a three-phase market research program to give our client a deep understanding of their Gen Z target. First, we started with a grounding session using C+R’s proprietary research and knowledge of the unique Gen Z cohort. 

Second, we created an immersive mobile hub/community to give our clients an in-depth look into the lives of Gen Z consumers. The mobile hub/community included 40 Gen Z participants aged 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, US geographic locations, household incomes and compositions. Over the course of two weeks, these participants posted videos, answered questions, shared their social media posts, and participated in live, moderated interviews to share their views on life in general and financial/banking needs and concerns specifically. 

The final phase of the research was a two-part virtual strategy session to help our financial client align on the three phases of research and ideate against the findings to uncover the relevance to ultimately win Gen Z consumers.  Due to the importance of the initiative within the company, there were approximately 30 clients from various sides of the business who participated in the strategy session.

During the first strategy session, C+R presented the findings of the first two phases of the research. Two other vendors, who had worked on separate but complementary pieces of research, also presented findings. As they listened to the presentations, the client team took notes of the learnings and “aha’s” uncovered about Gen Z’s financial needs and wants. During the final part of the session, the larger group of 30 separated into five smaller teams in breakout rooms (a feature inherent in the online meeting platform). C+R 's drivers (dedicated members tasked with handling technical needs and facilitating the conversation so the client teams could concentrate on generating ideas) captured the client team’s learnings via an online whiteboard. These notes were used as inspiration for Session 2.

Due to client timing needs, Sessions 1 and 2 were held two weeks apart. To keep research findings fresh in the client team’s minds, along with the initial ideas generated during the two sessions, we assigned two quick and fun pieces of ‘homework’ to help elicit additional inspiration: finding examples of how other companies were marketing to and attracting Gen Z and recording memorable learnings from the presentations in Session 1. Prior to Session 2 strategy workshop, C+R collected these assignments and distilled them into themes to help ideate against during the session.

The second strategy workshop session allowed the client team to generate ideas to capture Gen Z interest via marketing, products, and experiences. During the meeting, a series of shorter breakout sessions were held to allow smaller client groups to focus individually on these themes.  Again, C+R provided drivers to allow clients to focus on ideation, not technology. For each idea, the C+R driver captured its 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.

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