What FICOmania Can Teach Us About “Health”
To the modern consumer, good credit is to financial health what good diet is to physical health.
What’s the first thing you think about when you hear the word “health”?
If you’re like us, it’s probably the body — all the interrelated systems whose individual strength determines our overall well-being. You may also think of the mind, and credit the surging prominence of mental health in the national discourse.
What you might not have thought of, but what you increasingly should think of, is money.
Given boundless time to sit inside and focus on personal milestones, many of us spent the COVID-19 pandemic zeroing in on personal health goals. We all became intensely aware of our respiratory health, mitigating risks by quarantining, masking, and social distancing. Many of us stepped up our exercise regimens, setting personal FitBit and Peloton records. And, under tighter budgetary conditions, many of us stepped up our financial health practices, actually raising the average national FICO credit score to a record high of 711. According to the FICO tier system, that means the majority Americans have good credit.
That’s a big deal — not just for the positive economic impact, but because of what it says about consumer thinking. No longer is “health” limited to what we eat and drink; it has expanded to include what we spend, what we save, and what we can pay back.
The FICO score, developed by the Fair Isaac Corporation (hence FICO), was instituted in 1989 in an attempt to democratize lending. Prior to FICO, credit was calculated based on metrics like place of residence and socioeconomic status, which often stunted economic mobility.
FICO, meanwhile, evaluated borrowers on their ability to pay back a loan. A somewhat more objective mode of evaluation, it made credit (and credit status) easier to access, opening up the world of lending to many who had before been unjustly excluded.
Having good credit has myriad positive benefits. It can lower interest rates on cars and loans, expedite approvals for major purchases, obviate some security deposits, and more — all of which make it easier to improve one’s economic station and quality of life.
Borrowers have become increasingly aware of this, as evidenced by the steady rise in national FICO credit score ever since the Great Recession, when it bottomed out around 687. While the upward progress is largely due to a resurgent U.S. economy, it also owes much to the democratized information exchange made possible by platforms like Reddit and Twitter.
A quick glance at Reddit:
• Membership hovered around 400,000 until mid-2014, when it began growing steeply, gaining more than 10 million users over the next 2.5 years
• The specialized Credit Repair Subreddit has more than 66,000 members providing advice on the more nuanced aspects of credit health
• Credit Repair’s Membership has doubled since the beginning of the pandemic
The fact that so many Americans are paying such close attention to their FICO scores represents a growing trend to prioritize financial health in addition to the more intuitive areas of health. One recent report indicated that many Americans had become more financially savvy as a result of pandemic restrictions, saving more and prioritizing long-term financial health.
The Power of Personal Wellness
In marketing, health is known as an “intrinsic motivator.” That is, people pursue health products because of the inner value they bring, not because they stand to gain some extrinsic reward. As we covered in our gamification article, intrinsic motivators are much more motivating than extrinsic motivators — while people like to do things for pats on the back, they much prefer to do things from which they derive inner value.
So, when you’re creating health-focused content marketing, remember that the boundaries of “health” are ever-expanding. Physical health remains a top priority, but it has been joined in recent years by mental health, spiritual health, and financial health. More people care more deeply about the condition of their nest eggs, and want to find ways to ensure clean bills of health for years to come. Foreground financial milestones like FICO score, savings targets, adherence to budgets, and more.
A wise brand is a valuable brand, and LUDWIG+ is obsessed with building valuable brands. Staying on top of consumers’ evolving definition of wellness is one major way we make that happen.
Time to give your marketing a checkup? Contact LUDWIG+ today.