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We like to think of our tech as a mighty exoskeleton, an Iron Man suit of sorts, cloaking our people in superhuman powers. It’s ludicrous, of course. Juvenile even. But two years in, it’s a little less Incredible. Here’s our 2 year Transparency Chronicle.
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Mutual Funds. Mortgage. Insurance. Health plans.
If you’re already nodding off, that’s to be expected. The financial services and healthcare industries don’t necessarily have a reputation for being “fun.” Even so, young consumers are growing up and need loans, checking and savings accounts, and the ability to navigate the healthcare system on their own.
Oscar Health is one company that’s consciously shedding their industry’s “boring” label with a goal to make health insurance less confusing, more convenient, and — as they put it — more human.
The company has an easy-to-use mobile and web app that houses members’ pertinent health information and lets you look for doctors, book appointments and see details of your claims. The app is supported by a personalized concierge team and members have 24/7 access to board-certified physicians if they need a diagnosis in a pinch. It even comes with a step-tracking feature that offers members $1 a day when they meet their daily step goal.
Though the company’s digital-first approach attracts consumers of all generations, it is particularly appealing for digital natives whose purchasing habits have been shaped in the smartphone era.
“It’s the ease and convenience that people across all ages want, but that the younger generations have come to expect,” said Sara Wajnberg, SVP of Product at Oscar Health.
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While Oscar seeks to disrupt health insurance, another company — Capsule — is focused on reducing the frustration that comes with multiple, inefficient trips to the pharmacy. The company offers free same-day delivery of prescription medicine through its mobile app and provides access to its team of pharmacists via text, email, or phone.
Capsule is also able to anticipate questions about insurance coverage, remind patients about refills when they would have otherwise forgotten, and offer competitive prescription pricing.
And while the healthcare industry is ripe for disruption, health-related companies aren’t the only ones offering modern convenience through digital upgrades to appeal to younger consumers. Financial institutions are also doubling down to deliver that level of expected speed, ease and convenience.
Fintech frontrunner Fiserv, for instance, provides tech solutions to thousands of banks and credit unions across the US to make banking simpler, more trustworthy — and even, more fun — for younger consumers. Real-time money movement, biometric authentication, voice banking, online and mobile account opening and the ability for the cardholder to control their debit and credit card functionality with their CardValet app are just a few specific examples.
“The financial services industry is in a period of rapid transformation,” said Vincent Brennan, President of the Credit Union Solutions division at Fiserv. “Evolving consumer expectations are a catalyst for change as financial institutions work to deliver the speed, ease and convenience people want and need. Fiserv is providing the technology that enables these experiences with solutions that are in step with how people live and work today.”
Vibrant Credit Union, one of Fiserv’s clients, recently revamped its brand image and in-branch technology capabilities to appeal to the youngest members. Matt McCombs, President and CEO, reported that since its 2011 overhaul, membership of 18 to 34-year-olds has increased 75 percent. He credits this to the credit union’s modern technology, such as video banking, and customer experience, including their branded ice cream truck and events like “Talk Like a Pirate” day.
Wealthsimple, a popular automated investment manager (robo-advisor, for short), takes a similar approach to save customers time. The company says it takes less than five minutes to sign up and get invested in a customized portfolio (hence the “simple” in Wealthsimple’s name).
The platform is also particularly beginner-friendly, which is not the first adjective you might otherwise use to describe the investing industry. But that’s the point, says Mike Giepert, Executive Creative Director at Wealthsimple.
“[We’re] demystifying investing for younger people by making smart and low-cost investment services accessible and more human.”
That accessibility and digital-first approach is particularly appealing to younger consumers whose purchasing habits have been shaped in the smartphone era. But with those digital roots comes a healthy dose of skepticism. Headlines about fake news and Instagram feeds flooded with sponsored posts have led younger generations to be increasingly cautious about the trustworthiness of online information.
Yes, younger generations undoubtedly want convenience; but they also want companies that offer transparency, and are even willing to pay more for that privilege.
NerdWallet has made that transparency part of its core business model. The personal finance website was founded in 2009 to help consumers get more clarity around financial decisions. NerdWallet offers tailored recommendations and side-by-side comparisons for credit and debit cards, insurance quotes, checking accounts, and more. Think of it like a Kayak for financial advice.
The company often earns referral fees when people sign up for the services they write about, but the company discloses all its partners on its website and is adamant that those partnerships only influence which products they choose to review — not the nature of the reviews themselves.
“Bottom line?” the site asks readers rhetorically. “We’re on your side, even if it means we don’t make a cent.”
PolicyGenius is another website whose entire business model is built around transparency. The company is an independent insurance marketplace that gives younger customers a side-by-side comparison shopping experience they’re used to. Only instead of flights or hotels, consumers compare insurance quotes.
Of course, offering a mobile-first, transparent service is only half the battle for companies seeking to tap into this market with up to $143 billion in spending power. The other half is branding those initiatives in such a way that younger consumers will see past the industry’s boring stigma and give the service a try.
“We talk to younger consumers where they are most — on their phone,” explains Alison McGlone, Head of Brand at NerdWallet.
“Our marketing spend is primarily focused on Google, social media (Facebook, Instagram) and TV, and even our TV campaign is designed to find them outside of the living room, wherever they watch content, since we know that is how their consumption has evolved.”
NerdWallet’s approach appears to be working. The company reports more than 100 million people — a third of American consumers — come to NerdWallet every year for advice when making financial decisions.
Those familiar with Progressive’s iconic Flo advertisements may be wondering what it is that makes them so memorable. Love them or hate them, they’re engaging because they connect with consumers on a human level.
That insight is what helped inform Progressive’s Parentamorphosis campaign, based on the premise that ordinary people start turning into their parents the moment they purchase their first home. (The latest episode depicts a group of new homeowners in a therapy-style support meeting who trade hilariously relatable dad-isms. “Progressive can’t save you from becoming your parents,” the narrator admits at the end, “but we can save you money when you bundle on home and auto.”)
“It’s all about the right content in the right context,” says Jeff Charney, Progressive’s CMO.
There may not be one right answer to the right content and the right context. But one thing is for certain: young people reward brands they feel “get them.” Companies in traditionally “boring” industries may be fighting an uphill battle to break through the stigma, but untold riches await the companies who can most effectively tap into the psyche of young consumers and offer a purchasing experience congruent with their values.
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