The Green Ceiling

Women are less likely to talk about finances online — so how can finserv brands learn what they want?

It shouldn’t surprise you to learn that thousands of deep and nuanced conversations about personal finances take place online. Discussions about the best credit card rewards problems on Reddit, luxury lust on Instagram, investment tips on Twitter, and more. Every day, millions of consumers go online to talk money.

But what should surprise you is the gender breakdown of this conversation: predominantly, and increasingly, male. For example, in the last four years, the audience discussing credit cards online has become almost 15% more male.

And it’s not just credit cards. The mobile banking conversation is even more male-dominated.

These findings should be unsettling to many, but especially to brands in the financial services industry. If these companies want to make products and provide services that attract all types of consumers, they need to understand what women want. And it’s much harder to do that if the online conversation about their entire industry is dominated by men, and skewed to the topics that interest them.

Luckily, there are ways that finserv brands can find, and learn from, women-led financial conversations online, and, more importantly, ways they can better serve their female customers by learning what they want.

But first, let’s answer the underlying question: Why do men dominate the personal finance conversation online?

A historically male forum

Where are the women in the finance conversation? Looking at where the finance discussion is taking place, we find that women are getting boxed out of the conversation.

So what if you want to reach these women? Women discussing personal finance is still a large audience, with over 12 million posts this year alone. Ignoring them would be a mistake, but finding them is the next problem.

By looking at social data, we can find the affinities of the men and women who discuss personal finance online to better understand their respective interests.

When looking at men interested in finance compared to the rest of Twitter, some obvious interests pop up, like markets, business news, and economists. We see that they are much more interested in the Republican Party than the rest of the population.

But looking at women interested finance, we find a very different set of interests. Typical financial topics like stock markets and business news don’t pop up. While men in finance skew Republican, women in finance lean left, with interests in progressive politics, the Democratic Party, and feminism.

So if you’re trying to engage the female finance audience, going straight to business publications is likely a mistake, as those are likely to have a majority-male audience. But looking at their progressive leanings, reaching women may be easier via a lifestyle or left-leaning outlet. Reaching them through their other interests and/or political leaning is likely going to get their attention at higher rates than by going directly to their interest in finance.

Finding the audience is a great step, but how can finserv brands be sure to have a truly consumer-driven company if women are still getting boxed out of the conversation? The best thing they can do is to encourage women to raise their voices.

Designing campaigns aimed at women, and placed where they’ll see them, can be the best way to encourage women to speak up. Choosing a female business influencer, hiring women for business content creation, or producing a feminism driven finance advertisement are all great ways to encourage women to share their thoughts and opinions in finance.

If brands can encourage women to discuss finance, then they will be able to build a better product so that their consumer-driven brand is finally wholistic, instead of just building what’s needed for men.

Knowing your audience goes beyond male or female, age demographics, or even geography. To be able to reach them, you have to know where they’re going, and if you don’t know them well, they’re going to elude you.

For more information on the Financial Services industry, download our Consumer Trends Report: Personal Finances

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