Most statistics indicate Millennials now comprise about 25% of the total US population. That equates to roughly 81 million people. Millennial females make up about half that number, or around 40 million people. As the rise of the millennial generation continues, bank and credit union professionals must focus their efforts more specifically on its female component in order to establish firm market share in the future.
According to the recent article “The Millennial Mystique,” today’s young women do not necessarily share the same values and priorities that their mothers and grandmothers did. Rather, this generation of young women has a different set of values and expectations as it relates to work, money and life experiences. Several statistics from the article relate directly to millennial females relationship to their bank or credit union.
- 87% indicate they are not afraid to chart a different course than their friends
- 84% get excited when something is new or different
- 68% say managing their household is extremely important
- 78% say money is very important in their lives and is also the greatest source of dissatisfaction and stress
- 69% are actively saving for their future
What can bank and credit union professionals gather from the statistics? Plenty.
For example, since something new or different is important, if your financial institution has not rolled out a new product or service in the last 12 months, you are missing the boat when it comes to attracting Millennial females.
Also, with nearly 3/4 of this demographic sharing that managing their household is important to them, banks and credit unions must make financial education a priority in order to attract this population.
Lastly, with so many indicating that money is a continuing source of stress, banks and credit unions should look at this is an open door to combine innovative financial products and services with education in order to cement lifetime relationships with millennial females.
What works for Gen X and Baby Boomer women will not necessarily translate to success when applied to Millennials. Take heed of this generation’s unique financial needs and expectations to improve your financial institutions chances at success with them.
“These kids today…….” Is a phrase often uttered when discussing marketing strategies for reaching the Millennial Generation. “These kids today require different approaches.” “We have to reach these kids today.” “These kids today are so different.” The problem with that phrase? These kids today are having kids.
That’s right: consumers from the Millennial Generation are becoming parents. And that is a game changer for marketers. So what can credit union and banking professionals do to reach this critical demographic? You can read Millenials with Kids by Jeff Fromm and Marissa Vidler. The subtitle notes that this group is extremely powerful and different. And their book offers extremely powerful and different marketing approaches.
The authors note, “Many Millennials are parents now. Millenials are growing up and with that come more responsibilities. Now one in four Millennials is already a parent and that number is growing every day. As parents, Millennials are not changing their lifestyles to fit parenthood but are instead changing parenthood to fit their lifestyle.”
Below are three principles from the book and how we can apply them in the financial services world. For the remaining suggestions (and there are plenty of them), be sure to pick up a copy of Millennials with Kids.
(1) Millennial parents are not a homogeneous cohort
“Success will come to those who recognize and embrace this generation’s heterogeneity,” the authors note. They go on to identify multiple sub-segments of the Millennial parents: Family First, Style and Substance, Under Stress, Image First and Against the Grain.
- Application: When creating your brand plan and strategic plan, don’t have a target audience that says “Millennial Generation.” That is way too broad. Instead, dive deeper into the subsets that match best with your unique value proposition. Maybe it’s Millennial moms, DINKs (dual income, no kids) or one of the segments the authors identified above.
(2) Millennial parents are pragmatists
When it comes to their lifestyle and brands, the Millennial Generation is focused on practical application. They have lost faith in institutions (including financial institutions). Fromm and Vidler cite a survey that says only 10% of Millennials have a great deal of confidence in their bank. They go on to say, “If there is one overriding lesson….it’s that they are no longer as enigmatic as we once thought and there is a newfound pragmatism about them.”
- Application: Communicate what is real and authentic about your credit union or bank. Yes, cut the B.S. Where possible, show what a solid community citizen you are. Don’t just say you make a difference in the community but demonstrate practical examples of how you are doing it.
(3) Millennial parents are focused on time
“The new currency is time,” the authors say. They note how we communicate our marketing messages is radically different than just a few years ago. From Twitter to YouTube to Instagram, it’s all about communicating in short and visual messages.
- Application: Cut the copy. More than likely, you are writing and saying way too much about your financial institution in your marketing pieces. One of the best ways to avoid this trap is to conduct a marketing audit. This will help ensure your pieces are connecting with this critical younger market.
Those are just a few insights from the book on how to market to Millennials with kids. This generation has changed technology, entertainment and business. And now they are changing parenting. Which means you’ll have to change your marketing techniques as well.
You cannot market to the Millennial parent the same way you marketed to the Gen. X or Baby Boomer parent. If you want to learn what adjustments you should make to your marketing strategy with this unique group, then I highly suggest you read Millenials with Kids.
It seems like everywhere you go these days, kids have smartphones, tablets or some other type of digital device with them. I’m beginning to think these technology tools are actually part of their bodies. When our kids were born they gave us pacifiers in the hospital. Now I think hospitals are issuing smartphones to the babies in the cribs.
The latest research indicates that kids and technology are more interrelated than ever before. According to Influence Central’s 2016 Digital Trends Study, “technology now plays a bigger role in the lives of today’s kids, they gain ownership of their own devices at a younger age, and increasingly enjoy more access and privacy while online.”
So what does all this mean for credit unions and banks? Plenty.
If your financial institution does not reach the small screen, then it will not reach this generation of digital natives.
Here are a few of the 2016 Digital Trends Study and how it applies to financial institutions:
Kids are tethered to their smartphones
The study notes that the average age now for getting a first phone is 10.3 years old. Let that sink in for a minute: kids have phones long before they are even teenagers. Families also text each other while at home, with 31% of parents surveyed saying their kids have texted them while they are in the same home together.
- Financial institution application: Any teen or tween marketing campaign must include a mobile marketing component. If you don’t use mobile marketing, you won’t reach these young digital natives. Also, heavily promote text alerts and notifications for the parents when you have mom, dad and teenager on the same account. Ask yourself, how robust is your mobile presence?
Connected kids use gadgets on the go
If you are a parent of kids or tweens, you probably spend an inordinate amount of your time hauling them everywhere. Whether it is going to school, soccer practice, band events, or some other extra curricular activity families are constantly in the car. The study indicates “phones have risen on the list of devices kids look to for entertainment on car trips and remain second only to iPads and tablets as the engagement option of choice for the road.”
- Financial institution application: Design a financial education game for kids they can play on their tablet or smart device. In essence, you should look for digital gamification options for digital natives. The more you can make financial services digitally fun, the more you will reach this younger generation.
Kids gain access and autonomy
The autonomy and access kids have to the Internet in 2016 jumped significantly compared to just four years ago (and this is across all electronic devices). Key findings of the study include: 24% of kids now have ‘private’ access from their bedrooms (compared to 15% in 2012); 64% of kids now have access to the Internet via their own laptop or tablet (compared to 42% in 2012); and 38% access the Internet via their phone (up from 19% in 2012).
- Financial institution application: These statistics indicate a long-term approach. When these digital natives hit their borrowing years (and that is coming faster than you think), they will expect a level of independence and do-it-yourself products and services. They are growing up with unprecedented autonomy and access to technology. Strategically, you must answer this question: how many “taps” does it take to get a loan approval at your credit union or bank?
50% of kids have social media accounts by age 12
That stat pretty much sums up the current state of digital channels with this generation. The study notes “most kids score their first social media accounts at an average age of 11.4 years old. The largest percentage of kids—39%—got their first account between ages 10 and 12, but another 11% got a social media account when they were younger than 10.” The study also said Facebook and Instagram represent the most-used social platforms among kids, with 77% using each.
- Financial institution application: If you are not active on social media, you are invisible. Keep in mind that social media means engagement. It is more than just having a Facebook or Instagram account. There are two “Ss” of social media to remember: strategy and staff. Also, social media is increasingly becoming much more visual so make sure you are using more pictures than text.
When it comes to tweens and banking, your financial institution can either have a mess on its hands or have a perfect match. Taking the insights above from the 2016 Digital Trends Study and applying them to your marketing efforts will help you better reach this newest generation.
This post authored by Taylor W. Wells, Communications Director with On The Mark Strategies
The Financial Brand Forum is always a terrific event for banking and credit union professionals to gather, network and learn from a diverse array of keynote and breakout speakers. This year’s event in May at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas was no exception.
One keynote speaker highlighted the up-and-coming Millennial Generation and provided the audience with a series of startling statistics. Stats, while sometimes guilty of being tedious and boring, can also help serve to give us a kick in our complacency. The following stats about Millennials should do that for your bank or credit union.
- 73% of Millennials would rather open a financial products or services account with an online company like Google, Amazon or Apple over a traditional bank or credit union
- 33% of Millennials believe they don’t have a need for a bank or credit union at all
- 32% of Millennials would give up sex before they gave up their smart phone
What can financial institution professionals derive from the statistics?
Action Item #1: You’d better make your bank or credit union as is easy to work with as Google, Amazon or Apple. With Google, a few taps of your fingers brings you the collective knowledge of the world (and quite a few cat videos). With Amazon, just a few clicks and virtually any item you might need for home or office is on its way. With Apple, you’ve got the power and status symbol of smart phones, tablets and desktops to help you accomplish personal or business goals. Your bank or credit union must strive to fill that financial products and services niche in the same way. No consumers want the hassle of lines, waiting or poor service. Your financial institution must be as fast and reliable as Google, Amazon or Apple if it wants a shot at retaining Millennials’ business.
Action Item #2: You must also prove your relevancy to Millennials. Give them a reason to use you and need you. More importantly, give them a reason to like you. Let’s face it – banks and credit unions just aren’t sexy. But they can fill a need in a consumer’s life (especially a Millennial) that warrants keeping them around. Maybe you’re the only place that will give them a second chance checking account, or maybe it’s financing for that much-needed vehicle. Or it could even be credit score counseling and education. However you can do it, you must prove to Millennials that they not only need you — but they should also like you.
Action Item #3: Good luck with this one. Priorities, people!
Most of the speakers at this year’s Forum spent at least some time talking about Millennials. Your bank or credit union is wise to prepare for their full-blown financial arrival soon.
A recent article in AdWeek magazine highlighted the importance of connecting brands with influential millennial consumers. By influential, the article means those that are more likely to express and share praises and criticisms of brands online with their peers. Think individuals that do a lot of Facebook posting, Twitter tweets, Instagram pictures, YouTube videos and online reviews. They are the creators of online brand recognition and their actions must be both respected and monitored by banks and credit unions.
While the article mentions six ways to connect with these influencers, we will briefly touch upon three.
- Quality over quantity. Millennial influencers tend to be more critical of brands that blast them with too much information. Rather, they look for quality content over a barrage of sales pitches. Seek to interact with these millennial influencers through messages that create positive experiences, such as education, that influencers in turn share with their online and off-line peer groups.
Application point: reach out to Millennial consumers with pieces that focus on education rather than an overt sales pitch.
- Social responsibility. Millennials are all about organizations (including your bank or credit union) that are into social activism. Brands that take part in their communities and work for the betterment of the people that live there are more likely to connect with millennial influencers who are then more likely to talk them up in a positive way to their friends and family.
Application point: make sure that your bank or credit union participates in events that are important to the community and that you proudly communicate that involvement to your consumers.
- Make it authentic. The old adage goes something like “people hate to be sold on something — but they love to buy.” If your bank or credit union can craft an authentic brand message that both informs and complements these influencers’ lifestyles, interests and financial habits, it is more likely to gain a bigger share of their trust and their wallet. Millennials are savvy and will see through a pushy sales pitch quickly. Make your brand message authentic and helpful instead.
Application point: don’t try to push your products or services on Millennials — rather, seek to influence their wallet share by providing education and authentic personality in your marketing.
Millennials are a demanding generation when it comes to offering financial products and services. However, they can afford to be demanding in a hyper- competitive environment in which banks, credit unions and non-traditional financial services providers are in abundance. Your bank or credit union is wise to focus on millennial influencers and hone its brand in such a way that leverages their insight and influence amongst other people of their generation.
First, my thanks to syntax-challenged Jedi Master Yoda for helping me craft the title of this entry.
More than likely, this isn’t the first thing you’ve read about the upcoming Star Wars reboot opening in theaters in December. I am an unabashed lifelong Star Wars fanatic and have had December 18, 2015 circled on my calendar since the movie’s announcement. Not quite excited enough to spend thousands of dollars pre-purchasing tickets two months ahead of time, but still excited.
I’m also interested to see how the Star Wars brand may potentially evolve as the new films develop. Disney purchased the franchise from George Lucas and will undoubtedly put a new spin on the adventures of Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and the rest of the gang.
But — will I like it?
Star Wars faces a challenge to its brand with these new movies. Much like a bank or credit union considering a brand overall or even an entirely new name, they will have to find a way to toe the line, appeasing both original fans of the franchise (that started in late 1970s) and new fans coming on board just now. In other words, they’ll have to find some way to appeal to Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials and Homelanders, in one fell swoop.
Not an easy task.
Your bank or credit union cannot be all things to all people. However, what are some ways you can bridge the generations with your brand? Following are a few ideas.
- Define your audiences. If you attempt to craft an identity that will work for everybody, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You must spend time identifying key target audiences. For example, will your credit union specifically target young, professional women? Are you going after the aging baby boomer demographic? Or are you really going to concentrate on acquiring millennials? Once you identify your target audience, you can more specifically focus your brand towards those people.
- Focus on details. In branding, everything As I mentioned earlier this year, Disney is a terrific example of paying attention to brand details. At any Disney resort property, you will notice a great deal of attention paid to the smallest of details, from shower knobs and towel racks to employee names and consumer service. The old saying goes “the devil is in the details” and this definitely applies to branding. Inattention to detail can cripple any brand. Just ask Quiznos.
- Avoid brand gaps. Sure, it’s your marketing staff and executive team that primarily develop and promote the brand. But it is your frontline staff that must live it every day in order for it to succeed. You can have the greatest brand in the world but unless your staff buys into it wholeheartedly, it can also fall apart. This gap between brand identity and consumers is deadly. Once your brand makes a promise to consumers, it must live up to it. If it fails to do so, the brand gap widens, mistrust grows and wallet share decreases.
Taking steps such as defining target audiences, focusing on the details and avoiding brand gaps are ways to help ensure your brand appeals to a broad array of consumers. And there is no brand too big to fail. Just look at how the critics slammed Star Wars Episodes I, II and III. Take steps now to make sure that your brand is seen as cruel and timeless like Darth Vader and not irritating and unappealing like Jar Jar Binks.