Highlighting Convenience, Transparency Can Bring in Millennials

By Tony Armstrong, NerdWallet

Millennials are well on their way to becoming the largest consumer demographic group in the U.S. They exert an enormous and growing influence on the market for financial services.

Ranging in age from 18 to 34, members of this generation encompass everyone from recent high school graduates to established but still young professionals. The millennial population is expected to top 75 million this year, eclipsing the 74.9 million living baby boomers, according to Pew Research Center figures. Catering to such an expansive audience may seem like an enormous challenge, but it doesn’t need to be.

Whether recent high school graduates or new homebuyers, many millennials look for the same features and tools in financial services. Here are some of the common elements:

Convenience

From chatting with friends to streaming movies, millennials spend lots of time online, especially with smartphones. And why wouldn’t they? Sending an email is faster than mailing a letter, and texting is even quicker. Using Netflix or iTunes rather than going to a movie theater can save time and money. For many young adults, convenience is king.

So it’s easy to see why online services and mobile apps, as well as 24/7 access to checking and savings accounts, is so important. There are also practical considerations. Mobile apps allow users to check account balances, which can prevent costly overdraft fees. Depositing a check into savings using a picture taken with a mobile phone can save a trip to a branch.

Trustworthiness

Following the Wall Street-induced crisis of several years ago, surveys showed a sharp drop in trust among Americans when it comes to the nation’s financial services industry. During those dark days, millions of young people became familiar with phrases like “Ponzi scheme,” “subprime lending” and “housing bubble.” While trust has rebounded, the financial services industry remains below most others, according to Edelman, a public relations company.

Building trust can start with demonstrating connections to the community, through the cooperative structure of the credit union and its not-for-profit status.

Debt Solutions

Many millennials are burdened by mountains of student and/or credit card debt, but lack the resources and expertise needed to manage it. Organizations that reach out with free educational tools, loan repayment calculators and responsible advice can get their attention. Young adults laboring with massive debt often need help finding long-term, lasting solutions.

The Takeaway

Millennials generally aren’t the jobless basement-dwellers of popular media portrayals. With unemployment rates declining, more will be finding work for the first time or moving up, which in turn may lead more to hunt for a financial institution that’s best for them and their hard-earned dollars.

Catering to this crowd means offering products and services that are accessible and transparent. By underlining convenience, a community focus and resources to help millennials learn about solutions to their needs, you’ll be more likely to capture their attention — and, ultimately, provide them with services.

Questions about this story? Contact James Pearson: 206.340.4790, jpearson@nwcua.org.

Posted in Marketing & Communications.