burrito economy


The problem: Banks are constantly on the lookout for the next generation of customers, and Millennials are the next natural audience for them. However, banks are still speaking “Boomerese,” putting off potential younger savers. In turn, Millennials don't think that what banks have to offer is relevant to their lives.

A few of my fellow strategists and I set out to uncover what makes this generation’s spending and saving habits stand out. We dove deeper into the reasons that Millennials aren’t engaging with banks, and determined how to help banks reach Millennials. 

Our research: We spoke with Millennials in a focus group, discussing what they believe are their saving benchmarks and financial goals. We also conducted a survey with respondents from different age groups to gauge their thinking about money. We discussed spending money in a group versus spending money by yourself, how Millennials store their money, and what they're willing to spend the most money on.

What we learned: Unlike previous generations, Millennials think about money in terms of tangible things. They quantify money in objects - i.e., $8 equals one Chipotle burrito instead of $8 towards a house purchase. Older generations may not consider them savvy savers, but Millennials argue that they simply save differently than what's been done before. They save their money to spend it on small things later, not to save for larger purchases or investments. Their parents saw money in terms of retirement funds, car payments and their future children's college tuition. Millennials quantify money in terms of Uber rides, Netflix accounts and Chipotle burritos. To Millennials, their debit card is their savings account.


Millennials live in the mindset of the Burrito Economy - they quantify money by comparing it to other potential purchases. Banks can reach Millennials by speaking their language, i.e. putting money in terms of tangible objects instead of abstract ideas like 401Ks and IRAs. By speaking in visual terms that they understand to help them reach a goal, financial institutions and savings become more relevant to Millennials.

What we made: We brought the Burrito Economy to life through a mobile platform. We put ourselves in the mindset of a bank and created Yardstick. The app helps Millennials save by talking about money in their language. It turned savings into actual things and helped Millennials understand where money could be going and the benefit of long-term savings by putting dollar amounts into tangible objects.


Jessica Beck
Whitney Cavin