How Affirm and Credit Karma make products Gen Z loves

  • It's not easy to zero in on serving Gen Z's preferences around financial products.
  • Leaders from Affirm and Credit Karma join us on the Tearsheet Podcast to talk about what it really takes to build financial products Gen Z uses and loves.

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How Affirm and Credit Karma make products Gen Z loves

This is the final episode in our special podcast series on Gen Z, where we explore the fascinating Gen Z deeper: their relationship with money, how they like to save, spend, and borrow money, their fears and aspirations, and their connections to social issues.

In this episode, we’re going to be talking about creating products that Gen Z loves. To do that, I’m joined by two of the best product people in the business: Girish Balasubramanian, VP of Product Management at Credit Karma, and Vishal Kapoor, Head of Product at Affirm. Together, we peel back the onion on how these two firms strategize and tailor their products to resonate with the values, preferences, and financial behaviors of Gen Z consumers – and how this may be different from other demographics.

We also discuss the importance of financial literacy as an enabler for this generation to get on the financial responsibility train. Data plays a role here and we explore how to get the unlock to help Gen Z onboard to different financial products, responsibly and ethically. 

Tearsheet thanks our sponsor Publicis Sapient for their support. Read more and download customer research about Gen Z and financial services at SteezLife.co

And before we jump into our conversation about building products Gen Z loves, I wanted to let you in on something we’re working on right now. We’re currently recruiting financial services professionals to work on this very topic – building products Gen Z loves. We’ve heard from you and in our reporting that figuring out how to service younger customers is growing increasingly important for your business. We want to facilitate making that happen.

We’re hosting a series of working groups for professionals across the industry to communicate, collaborate, and tackle how to do this. Our group has senior executives from Citi, Synchrony, SoFi, UBS, Worldpay, US Bank, and more. Go to www.library.tearsheet.co/outlier to get more information. We have a couple of spaces left and if you’re motivated, we’d love to have you join us.

Listen to the full episode

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Alignment of Values: Both Credit Karma and Affirm emphasize values such as simplicity, transparency, and aligning their interests with those of the consumer. Affirm’s Kapoor states, “simpler is better,” and Affirm follows the principle of “no fine print,” demonstrating their commitment to straightforward and consumer-centric practices.

Future-Proofing Strategies: Affirm’s future-proofing strategy involves integrating an app as a co-pilot to its physical card, allowing for continuous updates and feature enhancements without issuing new cards. “We can update the software on demand, and we actually continue to do so,” said Affirm’s Kapoor, showcasing their focus on adaptability and embracing evolving technological trends.

Gen Z Engagement: Both companies recognize the need for short, contextually relevant engagement with Gen Z, given their short attention spans. Credit Karma’s Balasubramanian acknowledges the challenge, stating, “Attention spans are short. We all know that for these digitally native folks,” highlighting the importance of concise and impactful interactions.

Financial Literacy Importance: Credit Karma’s Balasubramanian emphasizes the role of financial literacy in shaping their approach to developing products for Gen Z, mentioning that “the starting point is really ready engagement.” He stresses the need for small, actionable tips and gradual education to help users navigate financial matters effectively.

Consumer-Centric Financial Products: Affirm positions itself as providing consumers with a better alternative, addressing challenges posed by traditional credit cards. The representative mentions, “Credit cards are making it very challenging for them [consumers] to manage their finances,” positioning Affirm as a solution that offers transparency, control, and ethical financial practices.

Incorporating User Feedback: Both companies highlight the importance of staying in touch with customers and incorporating their feedback. “We get feedback from customers on a very rapid clip,” said Kapoor, showcasing a commitment to continuous improvement based on user experiences and preferences.

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