With its non-profit model and cooperative structure credit unions have an advantage in attracting the millennial generation members. So what can credit unions do to leverage this advantage and successfully market to the younger generation?

Ways to Attract Younger Generation Members

The Credit Union National Association (CUNA) provides suggestions to credit unions based on surveys of millennials and their interest in a new type of banking institution. Interestingly, the services that comprise this “new idea” institution are not a far cry from credit unions or where they have the potential to evolve. Here are some ideas to consider as you aim to target younger members.

  • What is a millennial’s “branch of the future”? The purposes for visiting of a traditional bank branch are now nearly all virtual. Think about focusing on advisory and financial planning services, financial literacy programs, community engagement activities or other services that would be viewed as valuable to younger members.
  • Money and debt management is often a priority for millennials. Can you help future members with credit counseling and money management workshops—a potential opportunity to create long-term loyalty with new members?
  • Consider what types of accounts or programs would be most attractive to young adults to help them reach their personal financial goals—both short term and long term. Programs that combine desirable interest rates with financial planning and literacy advice could meet a multitude of needs for this younger member.
  • What services do you have to help younger members with savings and investment planning? Are there investment and retirement planning services you can market to future members?

The above ideas are focused on additional services and educational opportunities credit unions can offer its members. It goes without saying that part of attracting the younger generation must also include the technology available to credit union members. Younger generation members must have their accounts at their fingertips; and they must trust and feel they have a secure and safe mobile experience.

The Mobile Experience

Developing an effective and user friendly mobile experience for these future members is key to the success in reaching this audience. As you consider technology investments for your credit union and evaluate the providers and technology offerings consider these four “must have” functions for a successful mobile experience.

  • Electronic communication: In a survey conducted by CUNA, members rank email as their most preferred mode of communication for nearly all information coming from their financial institution. If capturing members’ email addresses and sending personalized email campaigns are not part of marketing to both current members and potential members this is could be a good place to start building your mobile experience.
  • Account transparency: The app should have the capability to view and monitor all activity in real time of all your accounts. Some apps also include the ability to set up notifications, either by text message or email, to alert a member that a specific activity has occurred, i.e., if a payment or withdrawal over a certain amount of money is made.
  • Account access: With online banking at our fingertips visits to the credit union are falling by the wayside. It is essential that your members have the ability to transfer funds—either as needed or establish and change repeating transfers or deposits between accounts.
  • Mobile payment: Gone also are the days of paying your bills through the mail—today’s consumer wants the ability to pay nearly all, if not all, their bills online. Bill pay began as a responsibility of the retailers and vendors but when consumers strongly exercised their preference of one stop shop credit unions and banks had to develop mobile payment capability to fulfill the demand for convenience.

Beyond these must haves, there are a few additional “nice to haves” to consider, including remote deposits and the ability to send and receive payments to other individuals whether they are credit union members are not. This functionality is quickly becoming commercialized in big banking but are there ways to make this uniquely your own, and even more beneficial for your future members?

The Power of Social Media

Finally, credit unions should consider how they are extending their community and cooperative model in the new era of social media. Are you actively engaged with members and potential members not only on your institution’s website and mobile app but with other social media accounts such as Facebook and Twitter? Social media is a nearly daily destination for most millennials so utilizing social media to keep members updated on offerings and services and to engage new members should be part of a next generation marketing plan.
Investing the time to develop and maintain social media accounts is the first step of this initiative. This can be the responsibility of someone in-house or marketing agencies can be retained to maintain your accounts and even source content for your accounts. An additional investment is sponsored or paid postings on social media forums which increases your audience and could attract new members or followers to your account.

The next generation of credit union members is knocking at the door. They want options other than the big financial institutions, and credit unions have the opportunity now to prove they can provide a better more personalized and value driven experience. Consider what changes you can institute and what marketing efforts you can implement to begin to attract the millennials.

Reference/Sources: Credit Union Magazine, Credit Union National Association, September 20, 2016; and CUNA’S National Member & Nonmember Survey, Credit Union Magazine, August 2015.

Maryanne C. Adams

Maryanne Adams is the Director of Marketing and Operations at the firm. Her marketing experience covers traditional marketing communications including social media, and business and relationship development.