Lily Harder
Lily Harder is Vice President of Research, Mintel Comperemedia. She specializes in financial services, researching industry trends and competitive intelligence insights.

You don’t have to be a math genius to see why Pi Day (March 14th) can be an easy win for retailers to engage with consumers, typically marked by an abundance of sales on baked goods and witty advertising campaigns offering $3.14 discounts. In honor of this clever mathematical constant, Lily Harder, VP of Research, Mintel Comperemedia explores three lessons financial services brands can learn from the number Pi. And if it doesn’t tie in to your brand yet, here’s why it should.

Lesson 1: Be rational.

Pi is an irrational number. From a mathematical standpoint, this means that Pi cannot be expressed as a common fraction. Luckily, Pi isn’t alone. All consumers, including you and me, as well as your customers and prospects, are also irrational. We may think we are making smart choices, especially when it comes to our money, but thanks to the growing study of Behavioral Economics, we not only know that isn’t true, but we are learning more about why it’s not.

We as consumers inherently know that we need to save more and spend less, but our best intentions are easily derailed by emotions, stress and other factors that lead to some very irrational decision making. Consumers are becoming more aware of this and they are asking for help. Mintel’s US research on consumer attitudes towards FinTech found that 65% of older Millennials wish their financial companies would better advise them on how to manage their finances. Luckily, this growing area of research is encouraging financial services providers to develop better tools and services to help their customers make more rational, and financially healthy, decisions.  This is especially apparent in the exploding market for PFM (personal financial management) apps.  As these AI-powered tools become better at making proactive recommendations, brands can foster a more loyal and longer-lasting relationship with their customers.

Lesson 2: Be organized.

Pi as a decimal will go on forever and never settle into a permanent repeating pattern, similar to the average consumer. While we all try to develop sustainable habits when it comes to our health or our finances, there is often something that gets in the way and disrupts this. As financial services providers become more responsive to the challenges that their customers are facing, and work toward relieving some of those common pain points, they will be better positioned to play a more active and frequent role in their customers’ everyday lives.

31% of older Millennials say they would be more motivated to use mobile banking if there was a budgeting feature that tracks spending.

This is becoming especially apparent in the growth of budgeting and income stabilizing apps, and consumers have a strong appetite for these tools. According to Mintel’s US report on digital trends in finance, 31% of older Millennials say they would be more motivated to use mobile banking or use it more often if there was a budgeting feature that tracks spending. Even, for example, is a money management app that positions itself as “the bank app that plans, so you don’t have to.” Even’s service works to level a customer’s income even if that income fluctuates from paycheck to paycheck. The app also budgets for upcoming bills and makes recommendations for safe spending limits. While a customer’s financial needs will go on forever, there are often very few discernable patterns. As FSIs become smarter with their use of big data, they will be able to keep their customers on the right path toward financial freedom.

Lesson 3: Visualize goals.

Pi is a transcendental number. Mathematically, this is a complex concept. But the meaning of transcendental comes from the Latin transcendere, which means to exceed or surmount. This is also a very important theme that applies to financial services as consumers look for easier and more convenient ways to reach their short- and long-term financial goals. Whether it’s saving for a big life event like a wedding or saving for something more long-term like retirement, consumers are looking for ways to stay on track and have more visibility into their overall progress. This is where technologies such as augmented reality can really make an impact.

Committing to a financial goal is one thing, but actually visualizing it and committing to it through imagery is going to make it a lot more meaningful. Ally Bank recognized this with their Big Save event, a live augmented reality game that took place during the Super Bowl. Before playing the augmented reality game focused on saving money, Ally Bank asked customers to identify their specific savings goal by selecting the appropriate icon in the app.

Whether financial brands are looking for ways to use augmented reality or make more of an impact through social media, being transcendental means looking beyond the observable reality. Consumers are looking to their financial brands to not only help them stay on track to meet their overall financial goals, but they are also in need of help establishing what those goals should be in the first place and making them more of a reality through visualization.

Lesson .14: Be thoughtful.

As you finish up that $3.14 piece of pie today, be sure to think about how this clever little number (π) can have a serious impact when it comes to providing your customers with the tools and services that will keep them loyal customers.