Purpose & Approach: Stage 1
By Ihsan Salleh
Product and value proposition Summary During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, about 84% of Americans felt financially stressed, which means they felt that they cannot afford their lives. As with other crises, this has deeply negative economic, psychological, and health consequences. As a subset, 81% of Millennials are financially stressed, mostly due to major purchases like cars and houses. Our ultimate mission is to guide everyone to explore and reach their dreams. To unpack what that means: our Stage 1 mission is to guide everyone to be financially well, and we aim to reduce financial stress by guiding the consumer’s shopping with things they can likely afford, while building their emergency fund and retirement savings.
We struggle to afford everything we want in life. Zestefy is a life planner for smart shopping and meaningful goals. See great results with when and how to afford them. From vacations to homes and life events. Save time, avoid overspending, while we guide your money.
Why are Americans financially stressed? Why guide the consumer’s shopping if the problem is financial? Our reasoning and thoughts follow.
Aligned with the financially stressed, 84% are financially at-risk: 26% don’t have a budget and 58% fail to follow their budget. So, we will focus on creating a budget for the consumer and help them apply that budget. However, we will not focus on trying to increase the consumer’s interest in budgeting because – on a larger topic – an analysis in 2014 (Management Science) of 201 studies found that financial education has negligible long-term impact, when controlled for psychological factors. Also, a 2017 research (DIW Berlin) found that financial education had significant yet mild impact.
Why are many Americans financially at-risk? Why do many fail to follow their budget? The answer below points to a systemic reason.
As a wellness company with compassion at our core, we must understand that the American financial tragedy (even since the 1990s) is not the consumer’s fault. This is because the consumer experiences a trifecta of challenges, which make it easier and exciting to spend than to save:Ubiquitous marketing: omni-channel and multi-device with targeted ads and convenience to influence your spending.Personalized persuasion: personalized data and psychology to drive consumerism.Complex computation: knowing your wants, sensing their values and risks, forecasting, and making good decisions.
Most consumers are powerless to be financially well against the widespread and persuasive advertising and convenience that drive consumerism
To frame how we will help consumers, note the purpose of a budget: to spend affordably. Spending is the final step in shopping, and so shopping is where we will meet consumers. We unpack this below:Viewing the previous financial insights through a marketing funnel, when a consumer traverses the three stages of shopping – awareness, consideration, and purchase – a budget is barely in mind when the consumer becomes aware of a product and then considers purchasing it.So, instead of trying to combat the widespread and persuasive advertising and convenience that drive consumerism, we will support the consumer as they shop by having them benefit from budgeting without needing to think about it.
So, we will help consumers by doing the below:Build their financial stability.Create a budget for them that updates automatically.Apply that budget when they consider making a purchase.Focus on major shopping goals – those that cause the consumer to care about their finances.
But what type of shopping will we focus on?
With 80% of Americans shopping online and since ecommerce is efficient for studying behavior, we will provide an online platform for consumers to shop smarter financially. However, besides the trifecta of challenges, we face additional hurdles:The consumer has many online sites to shop on.The consumer must share their financial data on our platform.The consumer must share their shopping and financial goals.The consumer’s behavior is difficult to change.
So, we will aggregate major online shopping sites into our platform, while building our customers’ financial stability. We will use safe methods for our customers to share their financial data on our platform. In case our customer does not know or share with us their major goals, we will recommend some to avoid overestimating what they can afford.To clarify, our desire to aggregate shopping sites into our platform – instead of aiming to be embedded in those sites – is due to our Stage 2 mission: to guide people to succeed in life.That sub-mission requires us to be a lifestyle brand for wellness and planning, and so we must start building that foundation in Stage 1, instead of aiming to be an add-in on shopping sites.
For retention, our shopping recommendations will not require our customers to improve their financial behavior – like reducing an expense to afford a product – but we will reward our customers for achieving shopping and financial goals, especially if they are achieved earlier. For such ambitious customers, we will recommend personalized ways for them to achieve their goals earlier.
In concert with shopping affordably, we must build our customer’s financial stability, which have these major requirements:Enabling our customers to have sufficient emergency savings and retirement.Recommending investment products and projecting their impact on our customer’s life.Recommending credit, loan, and insurance products to help our customers achieve goals.Guiding our customer with a personalized plan if they lose their income.
As we solve with compassion, we envision our execution will achieve our Stage 1 mission to guide people to be financially well.