February 21, 2018, posted by iq

Reaching Millennials: How Credit Unions Can Find Success

Every new generation requires a shift in how brands target and research their audience. However, none more so than the Millennial generation. Millennials, which include more than 79 million people between the ages of 21 and 38, are now the largest generational segment in the United States. Their purchasing power, ability to influence their peers, and reliance on technology makes them a vital generation to consider when marketing your brand and products.

As this generation begins to hit major financial milestones in their life, it presents an opportunity to financial service marketers. The size of the opportunity has been estimated to be approximately $2 trillion in assets, with an expectation that it will rise to $7 trillion by the end of the decade. It is forecasted to continue to increase as their parents retire and begin passing along wealth to them—making the ability to attract Millennials essential.

To seize this opportunity, it’s crucial to understand what makes this audience unique before trying to reach them through a typical marketing campaign. This white paper will explore what Millennials are looking for in financial service institutions and provide tips and strategies for how brands can best reach them.

Download our infographic: Millennials by the Numbers.

What So Special About Millennials?

Millennials Having A Blast

As you would expect from such a sizeable generational segment that spans two decades, Millennials are a group with vast differences among them since there are ‘younger’ Millennials (20 – 26 years old) and ‘older’ Millennials (27 – 37 years old). They are also an incredibly diverse population as 20.9% are Hispanic, 14.6% are Black, and 6.5% are Asian.

Additionally, Millennials are a generation defined by contradictions as they are stereotyped as being both privileged and entrepreneurial; altruistic and narcissistic. They describe themselves as family-oriented, yet the majority are putting off marriage, home buying, and other life milestones at a higher percentage than any generation prior.

They want brands to personalize their marketing, yet often ignore advertising and mock attempts to understand or define them. Importantly, their financial decisions are seen as contradictory as Millennials are averse to debt, yet are burdened by student loans and see technology items and traveling as necessities rather than luxuries.

So Why The Apparent Paradox?

Millennial Attitudes Toward Financial Services | Digital Ad Agency

To understand Millennial ideas, behaviors and financial habits, we must consider the events that have occurred in their lifetime so far. This is the first generation to have grown up with the internet. Constant technological innovation and a high level of connectivity drives, influences, and supports many of their daily decisions. Think of a Millennial that you know. When they determine where to eat, do they first check Yelp reviews? If they decide to see a movie do they poll friends on Facebook or check the forums and reviews at RottenTomatoes.com? Equally important, after eating at the restaurant or seeing the movie, do they let Twitter or Instagram know what they thought about it? Chances are you answered ‘yes’ to all of these questions. This level of connectedness comes naturally to the Millennial generation.

The financial crisis of 2007 – 2008 was another influential factor in their lives. If they weren’t impacted personally, there is a good chance that their friends or family members were. This generation grew up, and formed opinions, in a financially unstable environment of high debt, high unemployment, reduced pay, bad mortgages, and plummeting investment and retirement accounts.

As a result, this generation is interested in protecting themselves through reducing or avoiding debt, growing their savings, and budgeting.

Approximately half of Millennials often think about their financial futures, and 37% worry about money most of the time. Less than one in five feel financially secure. Only 23% feel comfortable with the amount of debt they have, which is a much lower percentage than older generations.

Lastly, the crisis has instilled a great deal of distrust as well, as more than half of Millennials do not agree with the statements “Most financial services companies are trustworthy” and “Banks are the best place to save/invest money.”

How Millennials View Financial Institutions

Millennials Treated Like A Number

If you combine what we know about this generation so far connectivity, financial conservatism, and distrust of financial institutions—it may not surprise you to learn that, according to a three-year study, Millennials view financial institutions as irrelevant.

Scratch, an in-house unit of Viacom, polled 10,000 members of the Millennial generation and discovered that banks comprised four of their top 10 most hated brands. Furthermore, with new technologies entering the industry, such as Simple, Square, and Bitcoin, many Millennials believe they’ll have a ‘bank-free’ existence in 5 years.

This feeling is being driven by a sense of parity among banks and other financial institutions, as 53% do not believe their current bank offers anything different than other banks. And they’re not interested in hearing from the banks on the matter either. In fact, the same study cites that 71% would rather go to the dentist than listen to what banks are saying.

Credit Unions have a unique opportunity, as they are an attractive fit for financially conservative Millennials, given their low-fee, not-for-profit status. Additionally, as many Millennials are conscious of – if not passionate about – community and social causes, there should be alignment with credit unions in that area as well. However, many are still unsure of what a credit union is and how it differs from a bank, and what is required to become a member.

Download our infographic: Millennials by the Numbers.

How To Reach Millennials Through Marketing

Millennial Financial Services Marketing Mobile

Millennials are a problematic generation to market to because they do not respond well to traditional financial marketing strategies or tactics and do not place financial institutions in high regard.

In order to get—and keep—their attention, marketing campaigns must be fun and engaging. Millennials are quick to change their mind, so maintaining engagement with your brand is equally as important as attracting them in the first place. Below are some strategies to reach them through your marketing:

Think beyond the typical ways of advertising.

Millennials are by far the most tech-savvy generation, and you should assume that every claim and headline will be researched and checked online and within their social networks.

Check out our article: Credit Union Marketing: Social Media Insights.

Great digital experiences are critical.

Millennials expect that they should be able to use multiple devices and methods when interacting with your brand. If you’re not thinking about mobile, social, apps, and the overall user-experience they will leave you for someone that does.

Meet them where they are.

Don’t just rely on your owned channels and website. Take time to understand your Millennial audience and develop a strategy to be present and relevant where they are spending their time. To be successful, you must be proactive and go to them.

Provide experiences.

Connectivity means sharing. Give this audience something worth talking about. Millennials are drawn to marketing that promotes a lifestyle, rather than just product benefits.

Be human and empathetic.

Millennials understand that brands are trying to sell products and services, but that doesn’t mean that they want to feel like they’re talking to your “social media department.” Make sure that your brand has a human face and take time to understand their issues and provide relevant solutions. Due to their size and access, this should come naturally to credit unions and community banks—take advantage of it.

Provide Guidance.

Millennials are interested in financial advice and proactive guidance. They’re entering a stage where they are considering higher cost life events and are looking for guidance beyond what their parents can provide.

Use video liberally.

If there’s one tactic worth investing in when reaching a Millennial audience, it’s video. Millennials spend 48% more time watching online videos than the average internet user. Remember, they want guidance. Quick, but entertaining, educational content on your site and social channels will go a long way.

Provide them with tools to reach their goals.

Millennials are interested in online budgeting options. Rather than try to build a platform from scratch, consider partnerships or integrations with existing financial tools they are using such as Mint, Level, Digit, and You Need A Budget.

Use humor in your marketing.

80% of Millennials are more likely to remember an ad if it is funny. Make sure that your content is engaging and meaningful. This audience consumes a lot of content across various devices, and have learned to quickly judge what content is valuable and what isn’t fast. If it’s not valuable, they will leave and won’t return.

See our article: How to Build a Content Calendar.

Incentivize reviews.

Many Millennials read online reviews and testimonials before buying or signing up for financial products; however, they rarely write them without being asked or given an incentive.


Millennials Hanging Out In A Shopping Cart

Many financial service brands have missed the mark with the Millennial audience because they didn’t adjust their messaging or assumed that Millennials were disinterested and distracted. However, by taking the time to understand the factors that influence this generation, financial brands can create successful marketing campaigns that are sure to build the foundation of long-term relationships.

Download our infographic: Millennials by the Numbers.

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