11 Sep 2017 - 10:00 CET

Connecting with digital natives

For the past seven months, NN Group has been exploring an important target group: the digital native. Digital natives are under 35 years old, and so were born after the adoption of digital technology. They don’t know a world that isn’t filled with apps and links. They live in a time of instant decision-making, and may not always have a long-term plan for their futures.

We asked ourselves: how can we engage digital natives to actively manage their pensions? Can we engage them at all? If we want to be relevant to them and help them secure their futures, we have to start being relevant today. How can we show digital natives that smarter spending and saving is as easy and appealing as ordering a taxi on Uber?

The Digital Financial Assistant

At the beginning of this year, we started the innovation project called ‘Digital Financial Assistant’. We envisioned a smart digital solution for handling all kinds of financial stuff and helping users take savvy financial decisions. But of course, it’s not about what we envision and believe to be fun. The challenge is to figure out – and deliver – what a digital native expects from a Digital Financial Assistant. What does our target group think this assistant should look like? And how can this assistant help them to spend and save smarter? Do digital natives want our help at all?

Start with the question

To answer these questions, we had to start getting engaged with digital natives. We held multiple interviews on the street, in cafes, at train stations – anywhere digital natives are. From the interviews, we learned that saving is a particularly hot topic and a definite need amongst our target group. It also became clear that they have a strong desire for a clear overview of their financial situation. We learned that they often don’t really know how much to save, and that they struggle with keeping their money in a savings account, without withdrawing it again in the short term.

Trial and experimentation  

With innovation not every new idea is a hit. Experiments are a fast and easy way to test ideas without having to develop the real thing. Our interviews with digital natives helped us develop a number of ideas, which we tested in various experiments.

For example, we did an experiment on the street asking people how they would spend EUR 2.000 money. Using buckets that we’d drawn on a large piece of paper, our test subjects divided their money the way they wanted to. We learned a lot about their spending and saving behaviour. We discovered that most digital natives would first do something fun with the money – albeit mostly using only a small amount – and would put the majority into their savings account. Just to create a ‘buffer’. The experiment was a great and inexpensive way to reach this audience and validate our assumptions.

Not all our ideas were as successful, though. For example, we also developed an investment game to see whether we could make investing more understandable to young people. We liked it a lot! But, our potential customer didn’t. So we dropped it.

Onward and upward

Creating a Digital Financial Assistant is certainly taking some time, but with each step we take, we get another step closer. So far, we’ve been running experiments, learning a lot and (un)fortunately dropping quite a few ideas. Luckily, some directions proved to be successful: we discovered that there is demand for a tool to help digital natives save small amounts automatically, and that our target group wants a tool that helps them prevent unexpected costs.

We now have one proposition that is reaching the ‘MVP’ (minimal viable product) phase. For a second proposition, a predictor for housing costs, we are in the ‘proof of concept’ phase. When that is successful, the predictor will also reach the MVP phase. For a last proposition, a saving plan based on spending behaviour, we are looking for a partner with whom we can run another experiment.  

What's next?

Altogether, we can conclude that digital natives are definitely interested in new and smarter ways to spend and save. By interviewing and experimenting, we collected insights. We have already had three iterations of the product, and in each iteration, we tested assumptions, got to know our target audience better and discovered what works and what doesn’t. One thing is certain: our Digital Financial Assistant has to be quickly accessible and relevant! This brings us to the following question: ‘what’s next?’ We’ll know more soon, and as soon as we do, we’ll tell you all about it.