Americans’ Top Brands Of 2021 Shows The Rising Importance Of Fintech
OBSERVATIONS FROM THE FINTECH SNARK TANK
A new study from Morning Consult revealed the fastest growing brands of 2021, and the findings demonstrate the growing importance of fintech in consumers’ lives.
The rankings were determined by measuring growth in the share of consumers who said they would consider purchasing from a brand over the course of the year.
Looking at the results by age reveals insights into each generation’s financial lives and activities—as well as other aspects of their lives.
Gen Z: Crypto, Cheap Food, and Cleanliness
A look into the fastest growing brands among Gen Z reflects the generation’s interest in cryptocurrencies, with Coinbase among the top 10 brands and Bitcoin (is that really a brand?) coming in at the 15th slot.
Other conclusions about Gen Z we might draw from this list:
- Gen Zers are looking to buy homes—or just looking at them. There’s a popular sentiment that young consumers aren’t as interested in owning a home as older generations are. The presence of Zillow in Gen Z’s fastest growing brands suggests otherwise. Gen Z’s growing interest in Zillow may just reflect their interest in tracking home prices, however.
- Gen Z doesn’t eat well. Frustrations with the skyrocketing home prices they find on Zillow might be forcing Gen Z to save money by eating at fast-food restaurants like Chipotle and Wendy’s, and snacking on junk food like Snickers and Ruffles (I’m sure those brands will complain about that characterization, and my editor will ask me to take that word out).
- Cleanliness is next to Gen Z-liness. I have no idea why brands like Olay and Dove are gaining ground among Gen Zers, but I’m not going to complain about that trend.
Millennials: Paying Later and Worrying About the Consequences
Seven financial brands—including five fintech newcomers—are among Millennials’ fastest growing brands in 2021.
The presence of Afterpay and Affirm in the top 10 brands demonstrates Millennials’ interest in the buy now, pay later (BNPL) craze, which will produce $100 billion in retail sales this year.
The presence of Discover and JPMorgan Chase in the list reflects Millennials’ interest in getting additional credit beyond what they get from BNPL providers.
And then seeing Credit Karma on the list indicates that with all the credit they’re taking out shows that Millennials are worrying about their credit scores.
Two more payment-related fintechs—Venmo and Square Cash App—make the list, as well, indicating how important financial services brands have become to Millennials.
Gen X: Smoking, Drinking, and Aching
If the list of Gen X’s fasting growing brands is any indication of how they spend their time, Gen Xers sit around watching TV (Pluto, HBO Max, Apple TV), smoke Marlboro cigarettes, drink Busch Light beer, and nurse their aches and pains with IcyHot.
Give the Gen Xers credit, however, for getting out to the theater (Regal) and to Universal Studios after being cooped up for all of 2020.
In addition to a traditional financial services brand (American Express), two fintech brands—Venmo and Chime—make Gen X’s list of fastest growing brands.
This helps dispel the belief that Venmo and Chime—and fintech, in general—are only for younger consumers (because let’s be honest here—at 41 to 55 years old, Gen Xers aren’t that young anymore).
Baby Boomers: Ruining TikTok For Everyone Else
I do a lot of consumer research and I consistently find that Baby Boomers are just not participating in the fintech boom. So it was a surprise to see the Square Cash App in the Baby Boomer’s list of fastest growing brands for 2021.
As a Baby Boomer myself, I’m pleased to see that my generational peers are drinking Smirnoff and Crown Royal and not that cheap watered-down Busch Light beer that Gen Xers drink. But Vizzy Hard Seltzer? OK, boomer.
The Rising Importance of Fintech
In a documentary about Rolling Stone magazine, co-founder Ralph J. Gleason commented on why he and Jann Wenner started the publication in 1967:
“We believed that music was going to have a profound effect on society and we wanted to write about it.”
It might be a bit overreaching to say this, but 50 years later, fintech may be poised to have a profound impact on society, as well.
It’s hard to believe that before this year, five fintech brands could have made Millennials’ list of fastest growing brands.
Why weren’t that many brands on the Gen Z list? Life stage. Eighteen to 24 year olds simply aren’t at the point in their lives when their financial lives have become complex enough to warrant the use of a lot of financial management tools and accounts.
Give them a couple of years and we’ll five to seven fintech brands on their fastest growing brands list, as well.
The Growing Fintech Community
It’s more than just consumers’ use of fintech tools, however.
Young people want to work in fintech. They believe (as well they should) that by doing so they can make a positive impact on society.
You could argue (as well you should) that traditional banks and credit unions have a positive impact on society, as well. But community banks and credit unions have never been a talent magnet, especially not to the extent that fintech companies have.
Fintech has become a community.
Pictures from fintech get-togethers in various cities attract pretty big crowds. The authors of some fintech newsletters have become “rock stars” in the community.
And, in fact, real rock stars—or perhaps, more accurately, real rap stars—like IDK and Snoop Dogg are partnering with or investing in fintechs like Credit Karma and Klarna, lending legitimacy to the fintech community. As importantly, they’re helping to make fintech and personal financial management important to younger generations.