Financial wellness in marketing: How SMBs can build trust with Gen Z consumers

Picture406 - Global Banking | FinancePicture406 - Global Banking | FinanceBy Jacqueline Bourke, Senior Director Creative at iStock

With every generation feeling the crunch of today’s economic impacts, it’s no surprise that the idea of financial wellness is on the rise. Generally defined as the ability to meet basic needs and manage money for the short- and long-term, financial wellness is a topic on everyone’s lips, however younger generations are particularly in need of support.

Gen Z – a generation that has only recently entered the workforce – is acutely feeling the effects of a volatile job market, climate change, and ever-increasing bills. Findings from iStock’s latest VisualGPS consumer research show that British Gen Z consumers are feeling pessimistic about the state of their financial health during the next 12-18 months. The cost of living, the increased costs of goods and services and inflation are the top three economic concerns for this demographic – well ahead of long-term commitments such as rising mortgage rates or stock markets.

The most important life priorities for Gen Z’s are having a work-life balance, having enough money to not worry about the cost of living, and having more time for themselves. There has been a cultural shift from an aspirational future to a more immediate present, which can now be seen in Gen Z’s attitude toward work and money.

Thinking about this demographic as customers then, businesses should be taking a thoughtful approach to marketing, using their visual communications to support their customers towards healthy financial habits.

Encourage financial literacy

Poly-crises have an impact on the financial wellbeing of younger consumers, and research tells us that 7 in 10 British Gen Z’s perceptions about money have been impacted by the events over the past year. Additionally, the number of 16-24 year olds contacting the Financial Ombudsman Service for guidance has risen by more than 200% over the past five years, highlighting how Gen Zs are seeking to improve their knowledge around financial literacy.

Businesses should aim to empower their customers to make choices that help them manage their financial goals independently. Historically, financial services brands have focused on telling aspirational stories around traditional milestones, such as buying a house, raising a child, or buying a first car. However, those milestones feel out of reach for many Gen Z’s, who are focused on the here and now.

It’s important to promote a sense of personal agency around healthy financial behaviours, so consider visuals that showcase Gen Z’s engaging with different actions, such as budgeting, opening instant access savings accounts, and accessing other resources for better money management.

Normalise conversations around financial and mental wellbeing

The current economic climate is associated with a reduction in wellbeing, with increased anxiety and worsening mental health among Gen Zs. Additionally, our research has found that 86% of British Gen Zs feel it’s more important than ever to be sensitive to the fact that people may have mental health issues.

There is an opportunity for brands to connect with Gen Z consumers by highlighting themes of togetherness and empathy. Consider visuals that show proactive care towards people who are currently experiencing financial anxiety or stress.

Video is an effective medium for engagement with Gen Zs

Findings suggest that 7 in 10 British Gen Z consumers watch video content on social media to learn or educate themselves. When you consider that 78% of Gen Zs engage with social media on a daily basis, there is a clear opportunity to reach your audience here. Move away from depicting Gen Zs stressing over missed payments and paying bills, and instead opt for videos that show people coming together to manage their bank balances on their smartphones, to support your customers toward financial wellness.