“Where are the millennials?”. This question has been echoing throughout the credit union industry since this age group (18-36 year olds) was first seen on the horizon in the post-9/11 landscape.
After the Great Recession of 2008, millennials were expected to flock to credit unions due to their well-documented distrust of banks. Yet, it hasn’t happened. There are estimated to be 71 million millennials but too few are becoming credit unions members. About a third of older age groups (Baby Boomers, Gen-X, etc.) are credit union members but only about 25% of millennials are.
This is a problem since the conventional wisdom is that once a young person becomes a member, he or she is liable to stay as a credit union member for a long time.
How then does a credit union go about attracting more of this group? One way is to study your existing millennial members.
A three-pronged approach to studying this group will yield the most useful results.
- Research internal data about millennial members
Mining existing internal data is the first step since this is data your credit union already possesses. The effort to execute this step is greatly facilitated if your organization has an enterprise data warehouse. After grouping the data into relevant age groups, compare these key pieces of information between the groups:
- Products owned
- Average balances
- Number of transactions
- Channel usage (branch, online, etc.)
- Own or rent
- Marital status and children
- Geographic location
- Research external data about millennial members
“Big Data” is an analytical resource that is becoming increasingly available to credit unions. Credit unions are securely pooling their data to create “data lakes” that also incorporate 3rd party data sources like census data, motor vehicle registrations, credit agency data, and social media. Querying the data lake with same questions as in step 1 will yield benchmarks against which to compare your internal data.
Other external source of information are the numerous articles, blogs, and podcasts published in the last few years about credit unions and millennials. Organizations like the Filene Research Institute and Best Innovation Group have been publishing excellent information about this age group for years.
Yet, data from these first two can reveal only so much. The final step is how to answer the question for your credit union specifically.
- Ask the millennial members themselves
Armed with the data from steps 1 and 2, you need to reach out directly to these members in interviews, focus groups, and surveys. These methods will uncover the nuances of millennial opinions, attitudes, and motivations that uniquely apply to your credit union. Typical questions might be:
- Why are you a credit union member rather than a bank customer?
- What is it about this credit union that made you decide to become a member rather than join another credit union?
- Why do you think your friends who are not members have not joined a credit union?
- What further products and services do you wish your credit union would offer?
Armed with the results of this three-pronged approach, the credit union will be better prepared to tailor campaigns to attract this elusive and essential group.
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