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    What Billie Eilish Can Teach Lenders About Capturing the Gen Z Market

    Every generation has a sound that defines its era. Whether it’s Jimi Hendrix’s guitar playing on the Woodstock stage during the Summer of Love, Video Killed the Radio Star blasting on MTV in the 1980s, or 2Pac and Biggie dominating 90s hip hop charts, baby boomers, Gen X, and millennials alike identify with unique musical influences. But what music will come to define the youngest generation, Gen Z? So far, the answer seems to lie with Billie Eilish.

    Born in 2001, Billie Eilish is quickly becoming the poster child for the population born between 1997 and 2012 that makes up Gen Z. In 2020, she became the youngest person to ever win a Grammy for album of the year. She has over 70 million followers on Instagram, has broken several records on the Billboards charts, and launched ad campaigns with major companies. Her unique look and independent attitude have endeared her to younger fans worldwide. In short, she’s the quintessential Gen Z star.

    So, what the heck does Billie Eilish have to do with your financial institution? It turns out, the pop superstar could hold the key to helping you capture your share of the growing Gen Z market.

    The emerging population of Gen Z consumers is a demographic that is starting to gain more influence and buying power. Consider the following:

    • Gen Z makes up 32% of the world's 7.7 billion-person population.
    • Gen Z spending power in the U.S. alone is over $143 billion.
    • A majority (58%) of Gen Zers said they couldn’t go more than four hours without Internet access before becoming uncomfortable.
    • 59% of Gen Zers can’t go a day without texting.
    • The typical Gen Zer takes just eight seconds to decide if something is worth their time.
    • Nearly half (46%) of GenZers follow at least 10 influencers on social media.
    • 70% of Gen Z consumers have written at least one review.

    In this blog post, we’ll highlight the characteristics Eilish shares with her fellow Gen Zers, discuss the consumer behavior and expectations of this generation, and give you tips for developing effective marketing messaging for Gen Z borrowers.

    1. Billie Eilish is a Social Media Pro

    With 70 million followers on Instagram, 25 million YouTube subscribers, and 25 million Facebook followers, Billie Eilish’s social media game is strong. According to an article in StudyBreaks, “Eilish’s direct involvement in the content she puts out to her fans makes her that much more relatable and seemingly reachable to her young audience. It helps her seem more connected to the average teenager, even though she’s a world-famous artist, touring the world with her music and posing on the cover of countless noteworthy publications.”

    Lesson for FIs: If you want to capture Gen Z, you’ll need to step up your social media game.

    Research cited in The Financial Brand states that most recent high school graduates are learning about how to conduct their finances on YouTube (28%) and social media in some other form, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (24%).

    If your financial institution wants to engage Gen Z borrowers, you’re going to need to leverage social media channels creatively. For example, you can advertise loan promotions, announce new product offerings, and request feedback from customers—all through your institution’s social media platforms.

    You can also use social media to cross-promote with vendors or business clients. For example, if you have a small business client who runs a bakery, you can show them some love and post messages encouraging followers to support their establishment.

    Related Reading: 4 Reasons Your Financial Institution Should be Using Social Media

    2. Eilish is an Independent Thinker

    From her trademark two-toned hair to her fierce resistance to becoming over-sexualized, Billie Eilish stands out from the traditional pop star crowd. She’s an independent thinker whose seeming indifference to trends resonates with her Gen Z audience.

    While some of this may be chalked up to stereotypical youthful ennui, it can also be attributed to a generational trait that she shares with other members of this demographic. According to data from the consulting firm Ernst and Young, who conducted a profile on Gen Z, one of the most defining characteristics for the generation is independent self-sufficiency.

    Lesson for FIs: Develop self-service banking options for Gen Z borrowers.

    The ongoing trend toward self-service has been evident for years, particularly to younger members. In fact, more than 60% of American consumers reported they prefer digital self-serve tools for simple inquiries. In a post-pandemic environment, self-service options for making payments and accessing account information are no longer an option—they have become a necessity.

    3. Eilish radically embraces technology.

    “So, maybe the next time they see us staring at a screen, and they ask us what we’re doing on it, why don’t we show them what we’re doing with it?” –Billie Eilish, #WhatWeDoNext

    Eilish’s #WhatWeDoNext campaign pushes back against the stereotype of modern youths “wasting time” on their phones all day. Meant to liberate young people from society’s stigma that their use of technology makes them lazy, her campaign’s overarching theme is that technology is both necessary and useful for social growth, innovation, and creativity.

    Lesson for FIs: Engage Gen Z Borrowers with a seamless digital experience

    Though it is particularly true for Gen Z, to effectively reach all of your borrowers, your financial institution must create tools and services that are digitally accessible. You should consider your online experience as an extension of your institution’s customer service. Your digital presence should have a similar “feel” to your overall customer service experience.

    Since the COVID-19 pandemic, even the most reluctant adopters of digital technology are now competently using video messaging platforms, mobile apps, and web services to continue working in a remote environment. Gen Z may be the digital native generation, but the pandemic has created an entire society of people who are comfortable using digital technology to tend to their financial needs.

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    Amanda Harr

    A graduate of the Plan II Honors program at UT Austin, Amanda Harr is the Content Manager for SWBC. A clever wordsmith who appreciates artful persuasion and authenticity in writing, Amanda uses a structured creative process to craft marketing strategies, develop communications solutions, and deliver top-notch content.

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