Accelerated Change in Financial Lives Necessitate Know Research

Published On: May 27, 2020By

This Spring, the team at KNow were lucky enough to partner with Logica Research on the latest wave of the Future of Money Study.  The experience taught us much about connecting with consumers on financial service topics during these volatile times.

While financial services has always been an industry priority for KNow, this year’s pandemic shines an even bigger spotlight on the need to connect with consumers on the topic, and the benefits brands gain by doing so. This is because consumers are ready to talk openly about their financial lives and are transitioning to digital financial platforms/tools faster than ever.  We’re there to help brands negotiate these transitions by listening to their consumers.

Talking Finances

Participants are more willing than ever to open up about their finances.  It has always been a point of pride that the expert investigators at KNow are able to connect empathetically and create safe spaces to allow people to talk about their financial lives. And in the Spring of 2020, we’ve noticed a comfort-level shift.  Participants of all demographics are more open about the topic; the taboo of talking about money may be lifting.

Why consumers are opening up about finances:

  1. It’s on the news: Everywhere you turn you hear it: news about unemployment benefits, grants, loans, stimuli checks, families doing painful math to get their households through the crisis, etc. This news stream increases participants’ financial vocabulary and knowledge base.  They are more comfortable talking about finances because it seems like everyone is doing so these days.
  2. Everyone’s affected: Unlike other recent financial crises, there’s no guilt/shame in being affected financially by COVID-19. This awareness of living a shared experience allows participants to frankly open up about the impact it’s had on them personally.  They are adding their voice to a collective story, not exposing themselves as an outlier.
  3. Financial advisor participants agree:  Advisors we interview tell us they’re noticing the same patterns. Their customers are contacting them more often, using more financial terminology and getting more actively involved in their finances this Spring. 

We at KNow strongly believe that fostering financial literacy – as well as encouraging financial conversations – are key in closing the financial gender gap.  We’ll continue spearheading financial conversations within our industry, for our clients and with our participants to continue to lift the taboo.

Going Digital

The Future of Money Study survey data, qualitative conversations and client presentations all focused on a trend; the rapid shift to digital payment and money management tools.  While we have spent years hearing from customers how ‘I still need a bank with a branch near me, just in case!’ and ‘I don’t trust payment apps because of security concerns.’ Now – often by necessity – participants tell us they have started using Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, mobile banking apps and online-only accounts during the crisis.

Why consumers are quickly going digital:

  1. Necessity: Many businesses need to take digital payments these days; their ‘new normal’ business model dictates it.   And customers of those businesses need to embrace new means of payments to get those services
  2. Cross-generational learning: Multiple generations being cooped up in the house together forces them to learn from each other.  We spoke to many Gen Z participants who successfully convinced their Boomer parents to start banking online. Gen Xers who have managed to stay out of the payment app landscape are taking cues from younger family members to download apps and give them a try
  3. Sanitary concerns: It’s just cleaner to go digital!  Participants of all ages told us that the crisis made them realize how unsanitary ATMs and cash can be, and for a ‘hands free’ experience have turned to digital solutions.

While some consumer behaviors may not outlast the crisis, we believe this one will.  We expect to see participants remaining comfortable using digital financial service apps, tools and sites.  This is good news for brands looking to expand their digital offering and increases the need for more usability studies, revisiting customer journey frameworks

If you’re interested in reading more of the insights gathered in the study, feel free to download the ebook or set up time for a personalized Future of Money presentation here:

Our new quantitative partner, Logica Research, excels in creating customized marketing research solutions for complex business questions.  Logica provides financial services companies, fintech companies, and growing organizations the insights they need for product development, service enhancements, and communications that will improve people’s financial lives, deepen brand engagement, and drive business growth. KNow partners with Logica on financial services projects and the Future of Money Study; understanding Americans’ mindset around money.