Phillips: Forget the Cool Factor and Focus on Millennials' Needs
Looking to engage meaningfully with younger consumers? Then stop assuming and start connecting through a common interest rather than trying to sell credit unions.
"I think the main difference in marketing to Millennials and other generations is that they have great filters-they only see what they want to see. If you want to engage them, the message can't be about brand but rather something they care about," said Carol Phillips, president of consulting firm, Brand Amplitude, LLC. "It's not about being hip but providing services they find useful now, like finding a job, figuring out how to finance their education or new business. They are starting out their lives at a difficult time and credit unions should credibly speak to that."
She added that credit unions shouldn't fall for the stereotypical myths surrounding this group such as they are all tech savvy-they are in fact tech dependent. Another myth is that they have money-many don't and those that do are in saving mode or paying down debt said Phillips.
Forget about making the luxury appeal. When pricier purchases are made they tend to rationalize it based on whether it's a good investment. According to Philips, for example, moving in with their parents is not viewed as an admission of defeat. Rather they see it as a strategy for saving.
Don't look to the exclusive use of social media as a guaranteed in either. While they are very social, Millennials have close bonds with their parents, often consulting them regarding financial matters or major life decisions. Phillips said it's yet another challenge because typically you'd market to the buying group, which in this case would include their trusted board of advisors consisting of parents, family members and friends. The key is for credit union to reach out and be a part of their world, and Phillips said initiating a conversation is a good start. Given the age span of the group is from 16 to 30 years old, she also advised credit unions to segment by interests. From there, credit unions can figure out how to connect in interesting ways whether around careers, music, causes or even sponsoring events that matter to them rather than talking about the latest checking product.
"Meaningful connecting requires recognizing that they are not the same as their parents. They do not respond to marketing, and that is the definition of different," said Phillips. "Take time to understand who they are as people and introduce your services in context of what is relevant to them. Social media is about a humanization of the brand but is still just a tool [and] not a strategy. So be interesting, have a conversation."
She added their values are no different than previous generations-they care about family, leading a good life, finding a fulfilling job and they want to give back.