Reaching Gen Y Through Mom and Dad
Credit unions know they must get younger. Decreasing the average age of your membership is a strategic goal for many credit unions. There are several initiatives, such as Currency Marketing’s Young and Free, that are having a great deal of success. The Filene Institute also has given many ideas for penetrating this key target market. And of course, there are a few credit unions successfully reaching Gen Y through various social media, mobile marketing and event marketing efforts.
While directly marketing to Gen Y should be a major strategic initiative, one tactical approach credit unions can implement is to reach young people through Mom and Dad. As a parent of two teenage daughters, I can attest that many kids begin their “banking” experience with the First National Bank of Mom and Dad (or First ABC Credit Union if you bleed credit union blood).
Jeffery Arnet, a psychologist from the University of Maryland, said, “We are seeing a closer relationship between generations than we have seen since World War II. These young people genuinely like and respect their parents.”
According to research from CUNA, there are 19.1 million nonmembers under the age of 18 who live in a credit union member household. In other words, there are over 19 million kids under the age of 18 whose parents are credit union members but the kids aren’t. Can you say opportunity?
You can actually accomplish two strategic goals–membership growth and getting younger not by focusing on the kids (which is still good), not by focusing on Grandma and Grandpa, but by focusing on Mom and Dad.
Credit unions should reach teens before they go to college. If you wait until they are in college, then it’s probably too late. With that being the case, the best entry point to the teen is through the parents. Many of these kids are “adultolescents”: they want to be treated like adults but they still act like teens.
Multiple dates are used when it comes to the various generations. According to Strauss & Howe, the leading demographers of our country, Gen Y are those born between 1982 and 2003, so they are currently between the ages of eight and 29. There are approximately 78 million Gen Yers in the country. The vast majority of Gen Y parents are either older Xers (those born between 1961 and 1981; between the ages of 30 and 50) or younger boomers (those born between 1943 and 1960; between the ages 51 and 68).
So how can credit unions actively use Mom and Dad as the door into Gen Y? Here are several ideas.
Relationship pricing. Offer relationship pricing by household and not individual (design the program around the entire family’s accounts). Many MCIF programs look at a household strategy; is your pricing structured at the household or individual level?
Parent scholarship contest. Offer scholarship programs and target the parents with the contest. Every parent is worried about how to finance their kids education. If the kid isn’t interested in scholarships, you know Mom and Dad are. You might even want to do a video contest that features the parent and the child.
Parent loan discounts. Offer loan discounts on the parents’ loan if they get an auto loan for the teenager at the credit union. You could even consider giving a savings or CD bonus bump for the parents if the kid finances the car loan; these are cross-generational promotions.
Account linkage. Promote linking all the accounts together, where Mom and Dad can transfer funds from their account to the teens’ account. Remember, parents are often human ATM machines. When the young adult is in college, parents will need access to sending them funds other than Western Union. Use the new technologies available today to make this as easy as possible.
Educational materials. Provide educational materials on finances for parents to share with their kids; try and make as much of this online as possible. You could possibly even offer some type of toolkit or workbook.
Membership promotion. Develop a membership marketing program encouraging mom and dad to open a credit union account for their teenagers. This step should focus on the checking account (not just a $25 membership account).
First time auto buying. Life event marketing (reaching people during key stages of their life) is certainly a marketing trend these days. Since the first time auto buying experience is usually a family decision get the credit union involved in that process.
Generational training. Conduct generational training with your staff. The more your sales staff understands the different generations, the better they will reach them.
Credit unions can use baby boomer and Gen X parents to reach Gen Y kids. Don’t forget about Mom and Dad when reaching Generation Y.
Mark Arnold is president of On the Mark Strategies.
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