Research: Wide-Ranging Youth Market Requires Different Treatment

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Credit unions often misapply marketing resources because they don’t understand the youth market. Since “youth” ranges from newborns to those in their early 20s, it’s a wide audience with significant differences in product usage, interest and financial institution awareness. Only when the needs of each age group are analyzed can marketing entice youths or their parents to open accounts.

Knowing how to communicate with youths or their parents depends on research that asks:

* What attracts young people to financial institutions?

* What drives their spending patterns?

* What financial institutions do they use and why?

* What products and services do they use?

* What media do they trust?

With students, the key is to reach the parents because they are so intimately involved in their children’s financial decisions, often even throughout college. Market student checking accounts to parents before their children are 16, and market student credit cards to parents before their children reach 18 to beat competitors to the punch.

Research methods vary depending on age group and information sought. Online surveys, phone surveys, focus groups and intercept programs all have their place. Survey college students directly, but talk to the parents to reach younger groups.

Don’t assume youths approach financial decisions in the same way their parents do. For instance, Generation Y is turned off by “sizzle” (and have high skepticism for fine print); they just want the “steak.” Remember that children don’t even consider financial services until the need arises, typically when they first get a job.

Sometimes credit unions unsuccessfully market mortgage loans to members when they should be focusing on building relationships with the real estate brokers who recommend lenders to homebuyers. The lesson here is: it pays to know the market. Research helps understand what youths and their parents want and how best to deliver those products and services.

Mike Anstead is Vice President of Sales and Service for Member Research. He can be reached at 310-643-6753 or manstead

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