After 40+ years, the Baby Boomers have passed the baton to the Millennials. Not to slight Gen Xers, but it’s their children – whose childhoods were shaped by personal computers and unprecedented strides in technology – who now outpace the “forever young” generation in sheer size. Since mid-2015, Millennials also comprise the largest portion of the workforce in North America – neck and neck with Baby Boomers. And whether or not they turn out for the next election, the number of Millennials eligible to vote is also equal to Baby Boomers. It’s no wonder marketing experts and behaviorists devote so much attention to them.
What do we really know about Millennials?
The media is rife with popular advice about Millennials, and a whole new consulting industry has sprung up to help companies figure out how to deal with these “digital natives” in the workplace. We’re told Millennials must be treated differently because they are self-centered, privileged and demanding. But they’re also considered to be socially aware, open to advice, value authenticity and strive for work-life balance.
Still, the April 2016 Harvard Business Journal features an article by KMPG Vice Chair of Human Resources and Communications Bruce Pfau, who says Millennials may be more like past generations than different (“What Do Millennials Really Want at Work? The Same Things the Rest of Us Do.”). Pfau points out that observable evidence shows Millennials may be more like other generations than different. Citing studies such as a joint analysis by George Washington University and the U.S. Department of Defense of 20+ published and unpublished studies about generational on-the-job attitudes, Pfau concludes that “a growing body of evidence suggests employees of all ages are much more alike than different in their attitudes and values.” Further, Pfau reminds us that people in their 20s and early 30s in every generation have tended to be self-absorbed and impatient, a trait that diminishes with time.
Regardless of the debate over what is in Millennials’ psyches, we know some things for certain about them, based on their place in history:
- Most millennials have never known a world without the Internet.
- Greater than 80 percent of North American Millennials own smartphones. They are used to technology and expect it to work.
- 87 percent of Millennials with smartphones say their devices never leave their sides, and 80 percent say they reach for them first thing in the morning.
- In the wake of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Millennials have borne the brunt of the challenge to find jobs.
- In 2016, they are projected to have $170+ billion in buying power.
How can credit unions engage Millennial members?
So, what is the implication for credit unions? At first glance, Millennials’ attitudes toward financial institution don’t paint a rosy picture. Putting it bluntly, “71% of Millennials say they would rather go to the dentist than listen to what banks have to say,” according to the Scratch Millennial Disruption Index. A third believes there won’t be a need for a bank at all in the near future.
But for now, research culled by The Financial Brand from Bank of America, Experian, Medallia Institute and Deloitte notes that 59% of Millennials do use their financial institution’s mobile banking app – the highest percentage among all generations, and 72% access the app a few times a week or more (Inside the Mind of Millennials: What Financial Marketers Need to Know, Jan. 25, 2016).
However, this doesn’t mean they are loyal. One in three surveyed is were open to changing banking providers in the next 90 days. Not surprising. Banks and credit unions have not kept pace with the intuitive, friendly apps they use in every other area of their daily lives. As the highest users of smart technology, Millennials expect constant connectivity, useful content, and apps that work.
The Millennial Disruption Index found almost half of Millennials expect technology start-ups to overhaul how banking works, and 75% would be more excited about new financial services from companies like Google, Apple or Amazon than they from their own PFI. To keep them engaged, consider these tips:
Get personal – Millennials are social and thrive on connections. Give your members personal attention by incorporating relevant offers into your mobile banking app. Text is this generation’s preferred channel for receiving information from businesses, and Scratch says Millennials are willing to share their mobile number if given an incentive. At Doxim/DigitalMailer, we help clients create marketing plans that include a series of personalized messages pinpointed to their interests. And our Customer Relationship Management solution helps them take advantage of the data in their core systems and elsewhere to point dynamic, one-to-one content to each member, personalized to their banking behaviors. College students, especially, are most likely to click on a social ad if it’s directed to their interests, according to research by marketer.
Make onboarding enjoyable – Millennials carry their smartphones everywhere, so invite new members to download your mobile app as part of your onboarding process. This demographic thrives on fast, efficient service, and analysis performed by CEB on our behalf found that activities with the greatest customer impact include speed of account opening. This is also the crucial first step in new member engagement, and an important opportunity to reinforce relationships with your existing members as they open additional accounts.
Use responsive design – Scratch’s research found that 21% of Millennials would change PFIs for a better digital experience. To keep them engaged, ensure Millennials’ mobile member experience is efficient and hassle-free … every time they use your app. Also, make sure the look and feel is consistent across all channels. Members should be able to easily recognize your brand, whether they are on a phone, a tablet or even wearable technology, and take care that the screen is optimized on any device for easy navigation and readability.
In January 2016 article, The Financial Brand said, “Millennials are called the first digital generation for good reason. They have grown up with technology at their fingertips, and they have become increasingly dependent on mobile devices over time … especially when it comes to managing their finances.” The opportunity is there for your credit union to meet the new largest generation where they are … on their digital devices. For today’s credit unions, success depends on it.