Solid Water Marketing Agency Blog

Four Fintech Startups Exploiting Cultural Trends

Anastasia Dobronravova, Marketing Strategy at Solid Water Marketing Agency:
Every startup founder is on the perpetual hunt for the levers of exponential growth. In the perfect world, such a lever will kick into action, sans investment, to set off a domino effect in user acquisition. More often than not, finding such organic sources of growth is rooted into cultural trends and sensitivities or in socio-economic factors.
As growth marketers, we love deep-diving into the world of our target audience - to understand their culture, values, and the very fabric of their lives. Here, we invite you to explore four case studies to demonstrate how growth strategies may draw inspiration and creativity from in-depth cultural and socio-economic insights and circumstances.

1. Djooky X, global music fintech

In 2021, Djooky, a music and fintech startup, launched DjookyX, a new platform for fans to invest in music rights. Building on the growing interest in music as an asset class, DjookyX offered a means for music creators and rights-holders to finance their projects, while fans can purchase rights in tracks of their choice and benefit from future royalties.
What’s interesting from the growth perspective is that Djooky didn’t launch as a fintech. Backed by angel investors, the startup worked against very ambitious user acquisition KPIs pre-launch. It was a classic chicken and egg problem - DjookyX was designed as a marketplace and for a full-scale launch it was in dire need to attract enough of both key user segments - artists and music lovers.
In April 2020, we started working with Djooky as marketing consultants. As one may recall, it was the year of COVID lockdowns. Globally, live events were cancelled as restrictions were in full swing and young emerging artists all over the world were thirsty for some action and, frankly, hungry for opportunities to make money. This is when we came up with a brilliant idea to launch the first global online song contest.
With our core team operating across Los Angeles, Berlin, London, and Kyiv, and including multi-platinum US producer and Djooky co-founder Brain Malouf, a veteran of the global music industry (produced Madonna, Michael Jackson), in July 2020 we launched the Djooky Music Awards. We tapped into an artist’s burning need to keep showcasing their talent and earn [prize] money, as well as a music lover’s hunger to continuously discover new tunes.
We combined organic methods such as social media, partnerships with music colleges, and cold outreach with very targeted paid social campaigns in traditionally cheaper acquisition markets with strong grassroots music communities and plenty of world-class young talent in LATAM, West Africa, and Southeast Asia. The product team built customer loyalty through the app’s gamification elements and ability to win prizes for guessing the winning song. The Djooky Music Awards has since attracted nominations from over 140 countries, as well as voting registrations from 150,000 music fans.
In terms of user acquisition pre-launch, the contest was able to exploit the cultural and economic circumstances of lockdowns while its outreach campaign strategies relied on music and social media consumption habits in particular regions of the world. The contest targeted exactly the same key audience segments as the startup’s core fintech product - emerging grassroots musical talent all over the world and their supportive fan communities. This gave us a hyper relevant leads database to leverage at the launch of DjookyX.

2. Loop Money, UK money sharing app

Loop Money is a social money sharing app which was conceived with the idea of simplifying money matters between friends.
Paul Davie, ex-Marketing Director, Loop Money:
With insight telling us that the lending, borrowing & even conversations on money between friends (& family) can become very awkward at times, there was something needed to help break this taboo. With increasing volume of people sharing money from flatmates expenses, asking for help before pay day, going on group holidays etc, there had to be a better way to break the stiff British upper lip on how to talk openly about money – especially when someone forgets to pay, or needs a subtle reminder! With young people and university students who share money a lot and find the topic of money with friends hard to do, we needed to find something to start the movement to help them get over this awkwardness. Loop Money was launched!
At the time of launch, Maria, Solid Water co-founder, was leading the fintech on the growth front.
We did a market feasibility test in the most densely student-populated cities in the UK, Bristol. Educational, fun, and engaging messages around getting your money back and managing shared expenses were used to target audiences through digital and offline campaigns throughout the city. Although Loop had modest media budgets, narrowing down location targeting helped the company to stay visible during the campaign, while quirky hyper-targeted UGC-style creatives drove up the engagement and conversion rate.
We found within 3 months’ time, when a new user registered on the app, they already had some of their friends in their contacts who were already using the app, making it instantly something they wanted to start using. This removed an instant friction point of having to invite people which helped radically drive acquisition and boost retention.
Loop was built from the ground up using cultural consumer insights, data and of course an expertise of individuals. This successful penetration of a small community gave confidence that the same can be replicated across the UK and beyond, which sparked investor interest. Loop Money thrives today in the arms of Tandem Bank who bought the business in early 2023.

3. Monzo, UK online bank

Hugo Cornejo, Monzo’s ex VP of Design and author of the bank’s hot-coral card, once said
We mostly wanted it so when we went to a restaurant or something, people would ask about the card.
Back in 2015, Monzo launched as a disruptor brand in the conservative UK financial market. The founding team hosted community events to create an enthusiastic customer base and convey how Monzo differed from traditional banks. In 2018, a few months after being granted its full banking licence, Monzo started scaling up and used its bright card as a key growth hack leveraging Gen Z culture.
Monzo’s marketing success is often explained through the lens of a ‘community-led growth’ but we think that without its hot coral neon card Monzo would not have been the same.
Hugo imagined the card as a fashion statement. “The neon coral of Monzo’s early cards wasn’t just a pretty colour, but an eye-catching marketing tool that not only helped word spread about the financial startup, and let users signal to others in the know that they were tech-savvy early adopters,” - writes Nicole Kobie in her article for the Wired UK.
Monzo’s card became a coveted fashion item which created a strong bond between the bank and its Gen Z user base, a brilliant execution of the physical touchpoint for a digital brand which tapped into the Gen Z's love of fashion and one of the big fashion trends of the time: neon.

4. Ooredoo Fintech, MENA-based fintech

Daria Partas, Strategic Communications Advisor, Co-founder of Solid Water Marketing Agency
As our team are working with Ooredoo Fintech on the highly anticipated launch of its digital wallet across six countries of the MENA region, we have done lots of research to make sure we understand the target audience, what drives them and, just as importantly, what inconveniences them.
The fintech market in the region is booming. It has been largely underserved and millions of people still remain unbanked which opens a huge opportunity for new players to grow fast.
Albeit countries are pigeon holed into one regional cluster, demographically and economically Tunisia and Oman couldn’t be further away from each other. While Oman is a nation hosting expat workers from Southeast Asia, Tunisia is exporting workforce to France. The growth strategies which we are currently exploring in these countries will be very different.
For example, for a startup launching in one of the wealthier countries of the region where the expat workforce makes up to 80% of the total population, it might be sensible to conduct outreach campaigns in the languages native to the expat workers.
Maria Tsarkova, Growth Marketer and co-founder of Solid Water Marketing Agency
Londoners might remember a recent campaign by NALA on London Tube. NALA is a new money transfer app for Africans worldwide and their ads directly addressed their customer in their native language. What was the key to its success? While I, unfortunately, could not understand a word in these ads, they registered in my mind as a smart way of reaching the target audience with no fuss [of English translation].

So, where do you start looking for a growth lever for your startup?

It is all about understanding what your customers want and what they're struggling with, and then getting creative to connect the dots. This is where the magic happens, paving the way for your growth to take off.

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