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NEW ORLEANS – If you want to bring Generation Y into your credit union membership, don’t be a Marent or a Wiwak. That warning comes from Paula Felten, head of marketing at Jeffco Credit Union in Lakewood, Colo. Speaking at a breakout session during the Education Credit Union Council annual conference, Felton explained Marents are marketers who are parents. They figure they’ll try an idea on their own kids and if it works, the product will succeed. Then there are the Wiwaks, who constantly declare, “When I was a kid, .” “Many components make the youth market one of the most powerful markets since the baby boomer generation, and the least understood,” Felten said. Why pursue the youth market? Felten indicated children ages four through 12 have a combined annual income of $27 billion, virtually all of it discretionary. They represent 28.6% of the population, have a direct influence on $187 billion of parental purchases each year, and indirectly influence $300 billion. They save at a much higher rate than their parents, she continued, then spend that item for such high-ticket items as bicycles, skateboards and IPods. American children save an average of $225 a year and spend about half of it. They put at least $100 a year into a checking account. The typical 10-year-old has $500 to $700 in the bank at any one time. Felten warned that if credit unions don’t woo this market, other financial institutions will. Merrill Lynch and Co. visits schools. Charles Schwab offers brokerage accounts for parents and grandparents. Stein Roe of Young Investors Fund caters to young people under 17 years old. Texas Commerce Bank will open an account for as little as 25 cents. “Marketing effectively to this Generation Y market will be different than what we have done in the past,” Felten said. She urged credit unions to turn to teachers, market research and focus groups for objective information. -

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