How to Measure Financial Wellness During Uncertain Economic Times

Caitlin Dailey
AVP, Account Management

When I think back to this time last year, the threat of a recession was looming, and inflationary uncertainty significantly impacted consumer decision-making. Today, while a true recession did not transpire, many Americans feel like it has, keeping consumer financial wellness a hot topic. According to Bankrate polling, “over half feel like the economy is in a recession” and “among those that feel this way, 85% say that the economic environment has negatively impacted their finances”. With the current cost of living, rising accumulation of debt, and record high interest rates impacting many facets of our daily lives, consumers’ negative perceptions of their financial wellness have translated to restricted consumer spending.

Knowing this, companies must meet consumers where they are, which begs the question: how should you measure financial wellness?

Given that understanding someone’s financial position cannot be based on economic factors alone, companies should take a holistic approach to measuring financial wellness:

Look to multiple data sources

While our industry relies on traditional quantitative and qualitative primary research methods, MANY sources of data exist to formulate richer, more textured insights that elevate storytelling. Particularly in the context of financial wellness, where a respondent may not want to share the magnitude of their financial situation in a traditional survey setting, we can tap into search and social data on a specific topic, category, brand, or product to “meet” consumers where they are. This allows us to gather and analyze organic “in-the-moment”​ conversations. If doing your research with CMB, we are then able to employ our proprietary topic modeling, themeAI, to identify and quantify the unstructured data. These insights can help inform inputs for a more traditional quantitative survey, to then validate how people are thinking/feeling/doing, among a broader population.

While more data sources can lead to information overload, CMB’s deep industry expertise and custom approach can elevate and put rigor to disparate, unstructured data sources. At CMB, we are equipped to find insights, not just more data.

Double down on emotional connection

Let’s face it; emotions are complex! Knowing how a consumer feels about their financial wellness will impact their behaviors, companies must learn to navigate complex emotions and lead with empathy—both in how they communicate and in what they offer. As such, measuring emotion via open-ended questioning in a quantitative setting provides stakeholders with a humanistic understanding at scale. CMB’s emotion@scale solution combines the scale and projectability of quantitative research with the nuanced human insight and narrative of qualitative research to uncover emotional highs and lows, as well as to explore the “love/hate” and other emotional dichotomies. By allowing respondents to self-report, open ends help companies gain more nuanced understanding of their consumers.

Consider ongoing measurement (that is forward-looking)

To keep pace with rapid business evolution, companies must connect with their target audience more frequently. In an age of tech disruption and economic uncertainty, the wants and needs of consumers are constantly changing, so more frequent measurement helps your business stay ahead of the curve. Running a topic tracker via CMB Accelerate that explores how consumers feel now and how that impacts their planned spending, can provide insights to your organization on a more frequent cadence than a traditional brand tracker, with more focused insights that can assist in rapid business decision making.

Ready to align your customers’ financial health with your business goals? Contact us today, and let’s start the conversation.