Multicultural Consumers Struggle with Debt and Financial Confidence

Multicultural Consumers Struggle with Debt and Financial Confidence

More than a decade has passed since the start of the Great Recession, when excessive debt played a major role in the economic downturn. Yet today, debt rates have climbed once again to pre-recession levels, even as consumers confirm that debt makes them uncomfortable.

According to Packaged Facts’ The Financial Services Market: African Americans and Hispanics, as of 2018, some 70% of U.S. adult consumers say they don’t like the idea of being in debt—a response rate has held relatively steady since 2009, even as consumers have gradually added debt to their balance sheets. While many adults may not like the idea of debt, they continue to leverage it to obtain the goods and services they want.

This is especially true among minority consumers, who as a group wield growing economic influence even while many continue to struggle to reach financial parity.

For example, African American consumers are 28% less likely than the average U.S. consumer to feel financially secure. Diminished financial security may translate to viewing debt as a necessary evil, which likely explains why African Americans are also 16% less likely than average to view the idea of being in debt negatively. Likewise, Hispanic consumers are 15% less likely than the average U.S. consumer to feel financially secure. Hispanic consumers are also more likely than average to say they are no good at saving money.

On average, far fewer U.S. consumers claim they feel financially secure. However, this response rate has risen 20% from 2009 to 2018, thanks to a growing economy and wealth creation that, for many consumers, has translated to added security. The problem is this euphoric sense of “added security” isn’t resonating as widely among African Americans and Hispanics.

Because of this, Packaged Facts sees opportunity for financial institutions to play an important role for these multicultural consumers by offering tailored money management solutions, helping them build financial security, and provide savings-building options that build consumer confidence. This type of marketing can start with everyday account and payment products, which both reaches the widest swath of consumers and provides institutions with opportunities to upsell candidates in the bargain.

Long-term, Packaged Facts anticipates such efforts and services will set the foundation to broaden the consumer relationship over time, as well as help build trust with demographics more apt to view banks with suspicion.