What do snowflakes look for in a brand…and what are the implications for long-term savings providers?

The first post in this three-part blog series introduced Generation Snowflake. These are, collectively, the 16-25 year olds whose preferences will soon determine which providers prosper in the long-term savings market…and which ones lose relevance. Getting to know them is vital. To help that process along, this post examines what snowflakes look for in a brand and predicts a snowball effect which providers ignore at their peril. 

So, what are snowflakes looking for? Three broad qualities score particularly highly: convenience, simplicity and reliability, preferably delivered in a non-judgmental way. It almost goes without saying that whatever the product or service, it needs to be available through a slick, engaging app, perhaps with a dusting of social interaction thrown in for good measure.

Speak to snowflakes about the brands they rate and it’ll be names like Amazon, Deliveroo, Uber and Netflix that keep coming up. Interestingly, they’re all service providers (rather than product manufacturers), and heavily platform-based with limited, if any, human interaction.

It’s all a far cry from the long-term savings marketplace. Instead of delivering seamless, digitally enabled services, traditional providers are generally seen as old-fashioned, out of touch and guilty of selling overly complex, clunky products. They’re also too human. And that’s something that makes them highly inconvenient to deal with.

Five key themes run through snowflakes’ favoured brands. Long-term providers of the future need to give careful consideration to each one:

  • Relevance: As far as many snowflakes are concerned, it’s a toss-up between saving for the future or enjoying the present before it melts away. For providers, it’s imperative to find innovative ways to help them save without overly impacting the present…as well as rewarding them for doing so.
  • Personalised: Just as every flake of snow is unique, the members of Generation Snowflake all inhabit their own personalised bubbles, supported by smartphones and predefined information feeds. If long-term savings firms are serious about capturing the attention (and the business) of snowflakes, they should be no different: their propositions will need to be highly flexible and tailored to each individual’s life goals. Snowflakes expect personalisation in customer engagement and in the products they select. They also want providers to be ready to give them a single view of all their financial assets, in one place.
  • Accessible: It may sound rather frosty, but snowflakes want minimal human interaction. That’s a problem for insurance & investment providers who are thought of as far too human. And of course, being such a highly nurtured (dare we say it, overly demanding?) generation, they also expect seamless omnichannel interaction. That said, their preferred gateway for accessibility is through an app, with the option of mainly digital advice that’s available when it’s needed.
  • Engaging: Most long-term savings propositions adopt a ‘buy it and forget it’ approach. Snowflakes won’t settle for that. They want a more engaging, ongoing service proposition with a higher frequency of touchpoints…dictated on their terms, of course.
  • Proactive: Snowflakes’ favourite brands push personalised propositions their way. And they expect long-term savings firms to buy into that ‘push’ culture. They believe other brands are constantly looking out for them and their interests (alerting them to better deals elsewhere, for example). So why can’t their insurance & investmennt providers do the same?

Summing up, if long-term savings brands really want to catch snowflakes, they’ll have to be ready to make some revolutionary changes to their customer engagement propositions. Shrug this generation off as a non-core demographic if you like, but with increasingly ageing parents, the UK’s seven million snowflakes stand to inherit far earlier than their predecessors. And the expectations they have today will only be more pronounced when their offspring flutter down into the mix.

It seems appropriate to finish up with a quote from Jim Dale, senior meteorologist at British Weather Services: “On their own, snowflakes are lightweight. Whichever way the wind blows, they will just be taken with it. Collectively though, it’s a different story. A lot of snowflakes together can make for a blizzard, or they can make for a very big dump of snow. In which case, people will start to look up.” 

It’s time for long-term savings providers to kit up for the blizzard ahead.

Thanks for reading.

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