Falling into Debt

Falling into Debt and Losing Hope: Meet the Recoverers

Written byFIG Team
May 18, 2020

The economy is, at the least, uncertain. Many people have lost their jobs, a number are being way more choosy with how they spend (even if they still have a job), and the uncertain timeline back to normality is keeping a lot of economic factors in flux. 

Also in flux are people’s mindsets. Though nearly everyone feels anxious and uncertain on some level, there are obviously nuances based on each individual situation. That said, FIG did a proprietary study, called the COVID-19 Personal Finance Study, to see how people are feeling at this stressful time — and, based on the responses, we were able to categorize them into three groups, from most to least affected: Recoverers (26% of participants), Modifiers (47%), and Optimists (27%). Here, we’ll focus on the most severely impacted group: Recoverers.

First, some brief demographic info on the Recoverers group, based on study fundings:

  • More likely to work in service industries

  • More likely to be Hispanic or African-American

  • More likely to be ages 18-24

  • More likely to have an income of less than $35K

  • Active social media users; heavily indexed on mobile; over-indexed on streaming media 

Having lost their jobs or experiencing other significant financial hardship, Recoverers have the steepest path back to stability. They are obviously spending less, like most people (68 percent of participants said they’re cutting back on spending). But they’re focusing their spend on essentials, and they’ll be depleting their savings or even going into debt just to afford them. Besides some rare, low-cost treats, luxuries aren’t part of the spending picture for the foreseeable future. 

FIG-Exchange-Infographics Budget-Recoveres

FIG COVID Segmentation Study. May 2020.

Discouraged about job prospects and their financial state, Recoverers are prepared to take any job that will help them pay the bills. A Brookings study clearly shows the avalanche of negative effects felt instantly by this vulnerable, viscerally affected group, with many of its members working in “immediate risk” industries — such as restaurants, hospitality, and retail stores — which experienced a swift, severe sweep of job contractions.

So how do brands reach such a hard-hit segment at all, much less in an authentic, meaningful way? Quite simply: by being a helper. Brands must focus whenever possible on products and services that are essential not just for survival but for growth, productivity, and physical and mental health. Recoverers need support to get back to normal, and a brand’s role is to help make them feel safe and secure. That could take the form of financial incentives (like Ford’s credit assistance program, which delays payments for those affected by COVID-19) or no- or low-cost experiences (like Mattel’s virtual playroom, which unburdens busy parents by keeping little ones busy, as well as replacing pricey toys).

FIG-Exchange-Infographics Brand-Habits-Recoverers

FIG COVID Segmentation Study. May 2020.

Lastly, because Recoverers are a captive online audience and will continue to be heavily indexed on mobile and social media, even as stay-at-home restrictions lift, this group is most reachable on mobile-friendly sites and social media, where they’ll connect with job resource sites and various support communities to help support them on their way back to normal. So if you want to reach this community that’s extremely active in searching online for help and answers, now’s the time to build a mobile-friendly experience and double down on your social media efforts. You’ll be helping those who need it most, and your reward will not only just be engagement now, but long-term loyalty, post-recovery.

For a more detailed breakdown on the Recoverers as well as the two other consumer segments we’ve identified — and ideas on how to reach them, see here.

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