How To Get Millennials to Talk Money: Insight from a YMS Speaker

Society Of Grownups is getting Millennials to talk money by making the subject approachable—and they’re sharing what they’ve learned about reaching the generation…

Next week, Voxburner’s YMS festival is in NYC, gathering together over 800 brands, agencies, non-profits, colleges, media owners, and youth organizations. Confirmed speakers include Complex Media, ESPN, Reebok, Ypulse, and more—so come learn from leaders in the youth space, get real-time feedback from live youth panels, and more.

Want to be there? Use the code YPULSE20 when booking your tickets here to get a 20% discount!  

For Millennials, finances can be a source of stress—over half of 18-35-year-olds say they’re worried that they’ll never meet their financial goals, according to Ypulse research. They often don’t know where to turn for advice on this sensitive subject—professional financial experts can feel out of their league, and the internet (their top source for financial advice) is an overwhelming trove of sometimes questionable information.

That’s likely what helped inspire The Society Of Grownups to launch back in 2014—to be the “safe place” where Millennials could learn about their finances. The brand provides “a suite of tools” including classes, calculators, and articles from (approachable) experts to help their “Grownups” talk about money and “take action.” Recently, Society Of Grownups closed their original brick-and-mortar location to go “all-digital”—and clearly in their years teaching Millennials to adult, they’ve learned a lot about the generation.

Society Of Grownups’ Director Xiomara Lorenzo will be at YMS to discuss the attitudes of young people when it comes to financial well-being, confidence and making grownup decisions—and we got a preview of her insights. Here’s what she had to say about getting Millennials to face their financial fears, and what brands need to know about talking to the generation as they learn to be grownups:

Ypulse: Tell us about Society Of Grownups and your focus on Millennials—what need did you see that your brand is fulfilling for the generation?

Xiomara Lorenzo: The Millennial generation has fundamentally different expectations than previous generations about how they should engage with and how they should be engaged by a product or service. This is true for most industries and is especially true for financial services brands. They often expect to make a "digital first" impression with a brand. If a brand's mobile or website experience appears outdated or under kept, it goes right to that brand's credibility and trustworthiness. 

In addition, Millennials share almost everything from what they are eating, to their travels, even about political beliefs and, at times, religion. But not their finances. Why is this topic still so taboo?

Society Of Grownups was created to help this population face their fears and get a jumpstart on taking action towards their financial goals.

YP: How are Millennials impacting the finance industry as they age up?

XL: Millennials came of age during massive technological innovations including the internet, hyper-connected social networks, and mobile devices and experiences. These innovations have radically affected expectations around engaging with financial service providers. Specifically, tasks that don't require front-facing human intervention such as deposits, billing, account and balance information, money transfers, etc. are expected to be handled seamlessly and quickly via mobile. With these changes, and new behaviors they have brought, one of the biggest ways Millennials are impacting the financial services industry is by charging us to figure out what is the role of the "human" or human-like experiences when so many banking and financial services relationships are defined by needing to have a strong tech experience right off the bat.

YP: What do you see as the most unique differences between Millennials and consumers from previous generations?

XL: The proliferation of ways to share feedback directly with companies and with each other, as well as the plummeting costs of starting a business, are two key benefits not experienced at nearly the same scale as with the generation prior. Millennials represent the generation of beta testers. Not only did they grow up as digital natives, but unlike the generation prior and the generation after, Millennials have been providing endless user feedback and shaping these innovations for nearly half of their lives, if not more. Their expectations for what should drive a superior product experience is only surpassed by their abilities to communicate this feedback; and even create better experiences.

YP: What has your brand done or changed specifically to better appeal to Millennials? Society of Grownups recently closed their brick-and-mortar location. What was the motivation behind that?

XL: Society of Grownups was created to speak to a very specific need: ending the social taboos around discussing money and one's personal finances and to better connect one's values to how they manage their personal finances. The brand has a certain maturity to it and it communicates in a way that says, "We've been there. We've made the money & career mistakes that you're worried about, we've lived to tell the tale and we're here to share what we know to help you make the best choices for yourself." There is also a cheekiness to the tone to communicate that even though we are talking about a so-called serious and scary topic, it's important to not take yourself so seriously that you forget to enjoy life.

We were grateful to see how the brand resonated in-person among thousands of Grownups with whom we met during the two years when we had our storefront location in Brookline, MA. Taking the brand to the next level by going all-digital allows us to reach many, many more Grownups in need of a knowledgeable, yet down-to-earth partner while navigating all of adulting's milestones.

YP: Have you learned anything about selling to/reaching Millennials that might surprise readers?

XL: One of the biggest myths about Millennials is that they do not want to engage with human beings, especially if a chatbot, app, or a website can be deployed. In reality, we have observed that both are needed, human and digital interactions, especially within financial services and broadly across many industries. When we had the storefront open in Brookline, we received a steady stream of Millennials attending in-person classes and one-on-one financial planning appointments. One of the key observations we had was that many people don't know where to start. Alternatively, there are those who have a sense of where to start but need help getting back on track or need validation that they are on the right track. As we design digital experiences for the brand, we constantly hold these types of user needs in mind when mapping out customer journeys.

YP: What is the one thing all brands should know about selling to/reaching Millennials and the next generation of consumers?

XL: Millennials are looking to cut through the information noise. On any given topic, they have terabytes and terabytes of data, if not more, at their fingertips. As consumers, they are no longer willing bystanders without information to make decisions. What they don't have nearly enough of are ways to assess and make a decision from the data, even when the data is their own. Positioning yourself as a partner who has been where they are and wants to help them get to where they want to go by helping them cut through this noise will go a long way.


Director, Society Of Grownups

A passionate financial literacy advocate, Xiomara Lorenzo combines her background in data analytics, financial services, and consumer insights to lead the Society of Grownups team. Prior to Society of Grownups, Lorenzo worked with Fortune 500 companies, including Morgan Stanley, to help these organizations make data-driven decisions to better serve customers. As Director of Society of Grownups, she leverages this intrapreneurial background to support the development of engaging digital media experiences that promote financial literacy in service of taking action towards one’s goals. She received her MBA from NYU Stern School of Business. Additionally, she is the founder of Xiomara Lorenzo Designs, a boutique studio specializing in handcrafted 3D-printed jewelry. She resides with her wife in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

To download the PDF version of this insight article, click here.

Want to talk to us about the article
or dive into a custom study?

The Newsfeed

“I observe holidays and religion-based traditions but am more connected to it as a culture than as a religion.”—Female, 27, MA

Chinese youth have a “selfie obsession” that’s changing beauty standards and creating a new tier of celebrity. The Influencer Effect is full blown in China, where young consumers are beautifying their selfies via filter apps like Meitu and plastic surgery—all in the quest to look more like wang hong, their internet celebrities. One influencer, HoneyCC, argues that “Selfies are part of Chinese culture now, and so is Meitu-editing selfies.” But some say the trend is pushing the population to become more homogenous by favoring certain features, and headlines have lashed back against the whitening of skin prevalent in social apps. (The New Yorker)

Eighty-one percent of Bustle, Romper, and Elite Daily’s Millennial readers say social media is the best way for advertisers to reach them. Bustle’s latest questionnaire also found that 40% of their 18-34-year-old readers prefer Instagram for brand communications, followed by trusted websites, email, and online articles. Some other fun insights: Over half believe that a company should give back, instead of just turning a profit, and 49% think “companies should do more to protect the environment.” (Adweek)

Drug use is down among teens—except when it comes to marijuana and vaping. From the 1990s to 2017, the percentage of teens who said they’d been drunk dropped from 46% and 58%, and those reporting they’ve smoked cigarettes from 26% and 17%. However, marijuana use increased for the first time in seven years in 2017, while vaping is up as well, with at least 19% of high school seniors, 16% of sophomores, and 8% of eighth-graders saying they’ve vaped in the past year. (LATimes)

Two modern dating shows are coming to Facebook Watch. The first “unscripted dating show” from SoulPancake, Love & Longitude, is shot on iPhones and shows two potential love interests’ relationship blossoming across FaceTime, social media, and other digital interactions. The second dating show from Machinima, Co-Op Connection, plays into the esports craze. One bachelor gets to pick his partner based on their personality—and their skills at the videogame, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. (tubefiltertubefilter)

Some cities are past their “peak Millennial” populations, as the generation increasingly finds new digs in the suburbs. Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles all reached their highest Millennial population in 2015, and New York and Washington D.C. are showing slowing Millennial growth, according to U.S. Census data. Meanwhile Chicago’s suburbs and others have seen an uptick in their young adult populations—another Millennial myth debunked. Which urban centers are still attracting the demo as they age up? “Tech hubs” like Seattle and San Francisco. (Time)

“Crochet and knitting are very relaxing, therapeutic, and have tangible results."—Female, 31, AL

Sign Up Now

Subscribe for premium access to our content, data, and tools.

Already a subscriber? Sign in.

Upgrade Now

Upgrade for full access to the best marketing tools for understanding the next generation.

View our Client Case Studies