Brands can focus on helping people feel more in control financially

Financial stability is more top of mind this year than in our previous annual CultureQ studies. Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers alike are more focused on the ability to gain and maintain individual financial stability. In 2013, Millennials’ hopes for the year focused on getting in or finishing school (55%); only 25% cited financial stability, whereas 47% named it as one of their hopes for 2014.

US Hopes for 2014


Is this correlated with Millennials getting older? Likely it is to some degree but the data indicates it may also be related to shifting sentiment across the population overall. While financial stability has been a top hope for Gen Xers over the past three years, it increased significantly in 2014, from 64% to 79%.Analyzing individual responses (we personally read every one) offers us further insight and confirms that each generation’s hopes are related at least in part to lifestage. Millennials hope to get raises and pay off student loans, while Gen Xers are focused on paying down debt, including mortgages, and ensuring financial security for retirement. Boomers responses, however, could indicate that people have accepted insecurity as the New Normal and realize it’s time to stop waiting for things to get better and move forward regardless. Rather than speaking about having enough money for retirement, many Boomers tell us they’re looking to downsize their lives, budget better and eliminate unnecessary expenses. With many projecting that Boomers will control more than 70% of America’s disposable wealth over the next few years, a focus on budgeting better may be concerning to brands.

The new normal has set in
Although our respondents have more faith in the US economy, they are still generally focused on ensuring financial stability versus dreaming about big purchases in the future.  Results from our latest CultureQ survey demonstrate a lingering shift in sentiment. The new normal has set in. There is a general understanding, particularly among Gen Xers and Boomers, that there may not be a chance to fully recover from the economic downturn. Therefore, they need to take fewer financial risks and learn to live with what they have. As with many other aspects of their lives (such as health), they are looking for ways to control their future: to pay down debt, cut unnecessary expenses and get a grip on their financial futures. People recognize they must become the PRO (Personal Responsibility Officer) of their own lives.

Brands that provide consumers with the knowledge and tools to be effective PROs of their financial affairs will certainly reap the rewards.