CO-OP: Lift Your Credit Union by Lifting the Movement

post from March 2014 on The Drinks Business website reported on an industry-wide issue that is certainly not confined to the purveyors of adult beverages: “The wine industry is ‘losing touch’ with Millennial consumers according to a recent study by Wine Intelligence. Exposed to a barrage of drinks offerings, the report found that wine is in danger of losing Generation Y to other more engaging drinks categories such as beer, cider and spirits.”

If the wine industry is soberly pondering how to engage Millennial consumers, that has certainly been true of the credit union industry as well. Credit unions have a lot to offer consumers, yet studies (once again) show very low awareness of credit union benefits, especially among Millennials.

So the wine and credit union industries are holding research data in both fists. And the data loudly point to something that should be part of every organization’s overall marketing strategy – the need to lift the brand of their entire category, along with their own individual brand.

In May, CO-OP launched an industry branding campaign specifically seeking to reach Millennial non-members on behalf of its 3,500 client credit unions. Called “Empowering People. Amplifying Dreams.” (, the goal is to educate young consumers on how credit unions can help them to a firm financial footing in life.

In working to attract Millennials to an entire industry, we have keyed in on at least three things:

  • Speak peer-to-peer. You are not necessarily the best person to tell your story. Millennials must tell your story to Millennials. A central focus of our campaign website is the growing library of testimonials of real life (“People Like You”) Millennial members who tell very personal and easily relatable stories about how their credit union has helped them.
  • Fish where the fish are. From the website, visitors can access campaign information on popular social media outlets: YouTubeTwitter and Tumblr. All three take the visitor to sites titled “Innovate Banking,” where content is “aggregated” from a variety of sources to help educate the young consumer on financial options they perhaps hadn’t previously considered.
  • Make it easy. Our website includes a “Find a Credit Union” feature that will help them find a credit union close to them – while they are thinking about it.

There is, perhaps, a fourth key to the campaign. That is – It starts with you.

Credit unions have wrestled for years with how to attract Millennials. Our experience shows that by working with business partners and clients, together we can begin to lift our entire movement.

To learn more about how your credit union can participate in the “Empowering People. Amplifying Dreams.” campaign, write to

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790,

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