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BrandZ we love: Credit Karma

by Lindsay Rothlisberger
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    Gen Z is growing up fast, and for many of these young adults, that means getting a credit card. However, the UNiDAYS Gen Z Insights Report, Zs and Money: What You Need to Know, shows that Gen Zs are more cautious about credit than previous generations. 

    They watched their parents struggle through the 2008 recession and learned some valuable lessons about lending at a young age. In fact, 83 percent of this group say they would save up for big purchases rather than using credit. Just over half (52 percent) of Gen Zs don’t have a credit card at all, and for those that do choose to have the option to take on debt, 26 percent have only one card.

    Despite the overall hesitation of Gen Z to go into debt, this group still represents a large target market for financial brands as this generation ages into young adulthood. A TransUnion industry insights report shows that right now there are 31.5 million credit-age Gen Z consumers, and that number is expected to rise to 44.5 million by 2022. Smart brands are recognizing what’s on the horizon—new credit card customers, and lots of them. Credit Karma is one of these savvy Gen Z marketers. Here’s why we love it.

    There’s an app for that

    Although financial institutions are catching up with digital interfaces, they’re not all designed around younger users. For digital natives who have high expectations of the technology they use, apps must be easy to navigate and help users quickly solve problems and answer questions—just checking a bank balance isn’t going to cut it. Credit Karma has flipped the script by creating a fresh app with a clean interface that allows users to do way more than just check credit scores. They can also get customized tips, compare loan offers, and even file taxes.

    Bite-sized videos FTW

    Brief animated videos (for those short Gen Z attention spans) show quick money-saving tips. For example, a recent Facebook post comments, “For those of you who brown bag it: we salute you (and your wallet),” with a seven-second video that displays the content, “saving money with meal prep - FTW (for the week).” It’s short, snappy, and uses the abbreviated lingo that Gen Z loves. A video campaign around New Year’s resolutions includes similar snippets with tips for setting resolutions, and a follow-up Resolution Reset in July keeps customers engaged. 

    Saying yes to YouTube

    These little snippets are by far not the only videos Credit Karma produces. It also has a YouTube channel (perfect for the YouTube generation) with more than 26,000 subscribers that features not only its commercials, but also personal success stories from other young adults. The Credit Comeback series has authentic, relatable stories from real users in their own voices. For Gen Zers who want to see real people in advertisements, these types of videos feel more authentic and relatable than other corporate finance brands.

    A meme-tastic Instagram

    We challenge you to find any financial institution that has a cooler Instagram than Credit Karma. Chock-full of memes that are clearly aimed at a younger audience, the page is bright, cheery, and funny. Messages such as “Friends don’t let friends grocery shop hungry,” “Stop ghosting your finances,” and “Bills before thrills” make users think more about their finances without feeling preachy.

    IRL interactions

    Credit Karma took its marketing creativity offline with a single-night pop-up event at Hudson Yards. An immersive physical experience took participants through various checkpoints that presented financial concepts in a fun and engaging way. A “stress-free finances” zone offered relaxing hand massages. Guests could make their own cocktails and get face masks to use at home. However, the experience was more than just fun and games. Professional credit experts were on hand to answer questions and share tips. For example, the face masks came with the recommendation to use the platform’s identity-monitoring feature to prevent fraud. These are the types of practical, fun, and engaging experiences that build loyalty among Gen Z.

    Know your audience

    Gen Z brands of all types recognize that marketing to this group is not the same as targeting any other generation. Credit Karma nails it with its combination of social strategy, authentic ads, real-life events, and quick, snappy videos that inspire action. For more stats and data about this generation on the rise, read our Gen Z Insights: Zs and Money report.

      Download the report: Gen Z spending habits before and during COVID-19


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