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Millennial Women and Planning for the Future

Posted by Lori Vellucci

Wed, Jan 27, 2016

Millennials_investing.jpgMy first real job came with an important-sounding title (Project Director) and all the things grown-ups look for in a position, such as health insurance and a 401K. I was 22 and didn’t know anything about retirement plans; retirement itself seemed to be in the infinite distance. My dad told me, “It’s free money. You can’t turn it down,” so I dutifully enrolled in the company’s program. When I left that job for a bigger title and a better salary, I promptly liquidated my 401K and took the cash. Retirement still seemed really far away and besides, even with my important sounding title, the salary hadn’t been nearly as impressive. Receiving a paycheck just once a month had left me with a lot of credit card debt, and I thought paying that down might be a better use for the money I had painfully put into a 401K each month over the previous several years. 

Since that first step on the career ladder, I’ve enrolled in other retirement plans with other employers, opened a SEP when I worked for myself, and acquired other investment vehicles over the years. Even so, based on many articles I have read, I will likely never make up for not contributing and staying invested in those first early years. 

CMB recently conducted a thought-provoking, nationally representative study on Millennials and money, and I wondered what young women today are doing and if they’re smarter about retirement and investing than I was at 22.

According to our study, overall, women ages 21-30 are driven, idealistic, and interested in furthering their education—more so than their male counterparts.

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Many are confident that if they budget and plan well enough, they will be shielded from financial setback. Further, a plurality feel they will reach their long-term financial goals and the majority plan to have more than just their employer-sponsored retirement plan when it comes time to retire. Most of these young women feel confident that they are saving enough for their future! So far, so good.

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But wait—nearly twice as many young women don’t feel confident making their own investing decisions compared to men, and more than four in ten feel they would invest more if they understood it better.

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While young men and women participate in an employee sponsored retirement plan at about the same rate, women are significantly less likely to own mutual funds, individual stocks, and to have their own brokerage account.

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Certainly, there has been a great deal of reporting on women’s reluctance to discuss financing and investing. Women often indicate feeling less confident in their knowledge, even as they tend to have lower risk portfolios, which perform just as well as those of male investors.

Traditional financial services investment firms have made efforts to tailor content and offerings to younger women, and websites like GoGirlFinance have also sprung up to fill a real void. But are these new sites reaching young women in a compelling and meaningful way? 

As co-author of our Millennials and Money study and partner at Foundation Capital, Rodolfo Gonzalez notes: “The financial services industry is at a critical juncture. We are seeing a lot of companies emerge to address the financial needs and expectations of the Millennial audience. The Millennial consumer expects a mobile, on-demand, simple, and useful user experience as they are the first digital natives. In the future, we can expect to see start-ups emerge to focus specifically on women and financial services.”

Even so, are they reaching young women in a compelling and meaningful way? A very good question.  Not wanting to rely just on our statistically meaningful, nationally representative study, I conducted an office poll...

They feel unprepared to invest on their own:

 “Not confident in my knowledge about investments; seems like a risk.”

“I have thought about trying it, but I feel uneducated on what would be a good investment. I would like to try to dive into investing on my own and experimenting with a small amount of money in the next few years.”

 “I am not at all confident in investing on my own. It is very foreign to me, so (although I feel like I probably should be) I just don’t do it.”

Further, closer-in priorities tended to over-shadow investing and saving for retirement:

“I am most focused on saving for my wedding and a house down the line.”

 “College debt is a huge one, I graduated with over $80,000 in debt, so that’s a huge hindrance to reaching some of my financial goals.”

“In addition to college debt, there’s my car payments, saving to buy a house/condo, and getting married in the next few years.”

 “My college debt is a concern, but mostly I just focus on my day to day expenses (rent, activities, and food). In my mind, any savings I have are designated for travel.”

Many of the young women in the office combine traditional banks with online tools like Mint or Personal Capital to manage their finances:

 “Currently I mainly manage my finances on a pen and paper ledger #oldchool but I check my accounts daily – Bank of America, Citizens, Capital One—and I log on to all loan platforms multiple times a month. I have used Mint before.”

“I use the app Mint to keep track of my finances. I also use apps for each savings/checking account I have (Bank of America, Charles Schwab, USAA) that I monitor.”

“Mint.com is great for monitoring all my accounts at once since it all pipes in, but not for budgeting. I just use Excel to actually manage my finances.”

While these women certainly have dreams of retirement in the abstract, for many it still feels very far away:

“Retirement is so far away for me right now—I just let my contributions go into my account automatically and hope that what I’m doing now will be enough and will be worth it when retirement time comes.”

 “What I’m contributing right now feels like it should be enough, but how can I know what will happen in the next ~50 years?”

“I wish I was more involved with my retirement and could a higher percentage of my paycheck, but I know I’ll have that chance down the line, so I’m not worried right now.”

It’s clear financial service providers, both traditional banks and start-ups, have a lot of work to do to educate, motivate, and inspire young women investors. 

Want to learn more about Millennials’ financial needs and expectations as well as what that means for your industry?

Watch here!

Lori Vellucci is an Account Director at CMB.  She spends her free time purchasing ill-fated penny stocks and learning about mobile payment solutions from her Gen Z daughters.

Topics: financial services research, millennials, Consumer Pulse, webinar

Busting Millennial Money Myths at Money 20/20

Posted by Megan McManaman

Thu, Oct 22, 2015

money2020.pngEvery day there’s a new report about Millennials—they’re in debt/they’re saving for retirement, they’re mobile/they’re going off the grid, they’re hard workers/they’re too entitled to succeed—the list goes on. Brands are desperate to learn what makes this generation tick, but the current research lacks actionable insights for the marketers trying to serve them.

To dig deeper, we partnered with venture capital firm Foundation Capital to clear through the clutter and to learn what Millennials are doing and thinking about when it comes to their money. Through our Consumer Pulse research program, we surveyed 1,055 Millennials about their tech use and financial habits, and we included three “deep-dive” sections covering attitudes and preferences towards banking, investments, and insurance.

On October 26thCMB’s Lori Vellucci will join Foundation Capital’s Charles Moldow at the Money 20/20 conference in Las Vegas to unveil new insights into the needs, perceptions, attitudes, and actions of Millennials. They’ll take a look at the very different needs within this most talked about generation, the coming disruption, and the wave of innovation required to address their financial needs.

If you can’t make it to the conference, don’t worry! We’ll be sharing takeaways from our research in November.

For the latest Consumer Pulse reports, case studies, and conference news, subscribe to our monthly eZine.

Subscribe Here 

Topics: financial services research, millennials, Consumer Pulse, conference recap

Modern Enigma: Deciphering the Language of Emojis

Posted by Blair Bailey

Wed, Sep 09, 2015

emojis, language, brandingParlez-vous emoji? Step aside, French – there’s a new language of the future. Well, maybe.

Since Apple’s release of the emoji keyboard in 2011, the use of emojis has grown exponentially. This past March, nearly half of Instagram comments and captions contained emoji characters. But this isn’t just the language of choice for consumers. Emojis are brands’ latest attempt to appeal to the younger, texting-heavy demographics of Millennials and Gen Z. Brands such as Coca-Cola and Bud Light are using emojis to create unique content to stand out with these younger demographics. Even though these tiny images can set a brand’s message apart, it’s also very easy for the message to fall flat with consumers.Even so, brands are venturing into the world of emojis to develop content as well as to investigate their audiences. Independent shop Big Spaceship is working on technology to develop definitions for brand tracking via emojis. This would be done similar to the measurement of brand sentiment using the occurrence of specific words on social media. The idea isn’t to look at emojis alone, but to examine them within the context of social content. Theoretically, this would allow brands to examine differences as seemingly miniscule as using a red heart instead of a blue heart in a social media comment.  

Instagram considered this very difference in their Emojineering blog, and found that, in fact, blue hearts and red hearts don’t mean the same thing. Instagram took a similar approach to Big Spaceship and studied the occurrence of specific emojis with specific words and hashtags. They examined the hashtags associated with certain color hearts in the absence of a red heart. A blue heart lead to Duke-related hashtags (#goblue, #letsgoduke, etc.) and Autism Awareness-related hashtags (#autismspeaks), while a yellow heart lead to spring-related and earth-related hashtags (#springhassprung, #hellospring, #happyearthday, etc.).

As a market researcher, this use of emojis is intriguing and problematic. I’d love to know the meaning and reasoning behind a consumer’s decision to post a cat emoji rather than the kitten face emoji, but playing Bletchley Park doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll find what I’m looking for. The texting-based language of emojis, while expressive, only brings us a little bit closer to the full picture. There is a much easier way to get an honest read of respondents’ emotions towards a brand—just ask them. At CMB, we use custom market research and our new survey-based approach to measuring the emotional impact of brands, EMPACT℠, to find out how your customers really feel about your brand. . .rather than spend time defining heart and cat emojis.

Blair Bailey is an Associate Researcher at CMB who language, branding, emojis.

Learn More About EMPACT℠

Topics: millennials, social media, EMPACT, emotional measurement, brand health and positioning

You’re Doing It Wrong: 5 Takeaways from #YaleInsights15

Posted by Julie Kurd

Tue, May 19, 2015

 

Customer Insights catIf your brand were a meme, would it look like the one on the right? At the 2015 Yale Customer Insight Conference in New Haven, Connecticut, we heard a lot about the evolving marketplace, powerful consumers, and how to get it right.  We’re living in an increasingly customer-centric world—a world where businesses are taking cues from their customers like never before.  Deepak Advani, GM at IBM Commerce points out that more than three-quarters of customers think brands don’t understand them.  So, if you are doing it wrong…how can you get on track?

  1. Visual language first.  Facebook’s Director of Global Agency development, Patrick Harris says that rather than talk about a good book/trip/movie, people are posting a picture of it to “show not tell.” Facebook estimates a 75% global increase in visual language.  Are you wasting time on content no one will read or resonate with?

  2. Be loved by Millennials.  Millennials aren’t fighting the power…they are the power and they know it.  If they don’t love your brand, it is game over, you just don’t know it yet.  Anne Hubert over at Viacom’s Scratch asked us to consider a generation that’s 86 million strong and demands an emotional connection to your brand. You can call them raging narcissists with their heads in their phones and unprofitable for your business model, but if you think they aren’t a factor in your business, Hubert says they might be ignoring your brand.  And all that equity you’ve banked can disappear if they don’t want to work for you and they don’t care about your products/services.

  3. Curate good (not branded) content.  GE may be among the largest companies in the world, but Linda Boff, GE’s Executive Director of Global Brand Marketing, is under no illusions that they need to curate exceptional content— allowing their values of optimism, innovation and flexibility to shine. For instance, GE created 100 pairs of sneakers to celebrate their role in the moon landing. The kicks had everyone from sneaker-heads and fashionistas to museums talking.

  4. Self pace.  Ossa Fisher, CMO at ISTATION showed us the power of pacing and 1:1 learning. A child having trouble with a subject can self-pace their learning on smartphones and tablets, avoiding the embarrassment of being too slow (or too quick) in a larger classroom.  Without the stigma, the child can focus on what they know and don’t know, and work at a comfortable pace.  Even the classroom instructor is excited because she can monitor progress toward a goal without slowing down the class.

  5. Share.  Richelle Parham (Former CMO of eBay) and Bob Adams (Senior Director at Visa) talk about the rise of the sharing economy. Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and many others are disrupting entrenched businesses and focused on customer needs. For example, dog owners love their dogs and it feels very wrong to leave the dog in a small cage while the owners go off on vacation.  In the sharing economy, dog lovers can be matched to other dog lovers and can ensure their dog is also going on a great vacation in a loving home.

As you head into the summer months, recognize the ways your company may be “doing it wrong” and take strides to sharpen and grow your brand.

Julie is an Account Executive. She is in her element connecting with innovative big thinkers on topics ranging from emotion to mobile and complex choice modelling. Follow her @julie1research using hashtag #MRX.

Topics: millennials, marketing strategy, conference recap, brand health and positioning

In-N-Out Serves up a Side of Innovation

Posted by Hilary O'Haire

Wed, Aug 20, 2014

innovation, innovative, In-N-Out BurgerI've just returned from a week-long vacation to California, and I'm still feeling the joy (and guilt) from satisfying my ultimate indulgence: In-N-Out Burger. Since I’m an East Coaster without frequent access to their locations, my trip would not have been complete without going at least once. I have another confession: I ate there three times in ten days. I may have overdone it, but my love of the brand is predictable. In-N-Out Burger is the one chain Millennials will return to time and time again—we just can’t seem to get enough of it. This is not new nor surprising news. As a Millennial myself, I am enamored by the restaurant, which offers a simple four item menu, fast service, and garden-fresh ingredients.A report by Technomic states, “In-N-Out Burger is the chain most likely to be revisited. Millennials place greater emphasis on the concept's brand image, agreeing more strongly than other generations that In-N-Out Burger supports local community activities, offers new and exciting products and is an innovative brand.” To me, the most interesting finding is that In-N-Out’s brand is seen as innovative. This begs the question: how can they be innovative if they only offer four items? Devout fans may point to the success of their “not-so-secret menu,” which is listed only on their website and boasts creative burger combinations, as a reason. However, I’d like to think In-N-Out serves as a gentle reminder: innovation doesn't always mean complexity. Although customers may continue to eat up crazier menu choices, the actual menu at each location remains clear and unchanging: burgers, french fries, shakes, and beverages.

Although it's impossible to avoid complexity at all phases, the root of innovation or product development should remain simple. When beginning to think about innovation—perhaps a new product or new process to improve your business—let this be a helpful reminder to have a focused core set of objectives in mind. Using In-N-Out’s magic number four, take a step back and ask yourself: What are the (up to) four innovation objectives that I need to guarantee success? Your success will be defined by multiple outcomes, from stakeholder support to the ultimate goal of application or use. However, keeping clear and consistent objectives will ground your innovation through execution and management. The end result of these objectives may be unknown, but who knows?—you may find yourself concocting your own “not-so-secret menu” of innovative ideas.

Hilary O’Haire is Senior Associate at CMB. If you find yourself at In-N-Out Burger in the near future, she recommends not-so-secretly ordering your meal ‘Protein Style.’  

Join us at The Market Research Event! Use the code CMB2014 and receive 25% off your registration. 

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Topics: millennials, growth and innovation