In Search of Gen Y

Many CUs find it difficult to attract this elusive age group.

December 30, 2011
KEYWORDS banking , mobile , online , young
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‘Buck the Norm’

Providing technology-based information and products for members ages 16 to 25 proves that $2 billion asset Tinker Federal Credit Union in Oklahoma City is willing to “Buck the Norm” to attract Gen Y.

The credit union’s “Buck the Norm” program, introduced in September 2008, includes a website, social media interaction, and grassroots involvement in community events such as a local music festival and the annual Ghouls Gone Wild parade in Oklahoma City.

“Buck the Norm” emphasizes resources that help Gen Y understand financial terms and products along with general information on topics such as writing a resume, according to Will Fathree, Tinker Federal’s marketing programs manager. Fathree, 31, and other young contributors provide weekly blog posts to share everyday experiences and address current financial issues.

"There are so many people in that age range who have bad spending habits and too much credit card debt, and it’s hard to get out of that,” Fathree says. “We want to give them the tools to avoid that in the first place.”

Who is Gen Y?

The Gen Y age group:

Is defined by demographers with birth-year spans as varied as 1980 to 1992 or 1988 to 2001;

Typically is segmented by credit unions as ages 18 to 25, although some Gen Y programs extend from the early teens to the early 30s; and

Represents a growing credit union membership segment. Members ages 18 to 24 increased from 6% of all adult members in 2006 to 9% today, according to CUNA’s 2011-2012 National Member Survey.

Contests are often used to appeal to Gen Y, with more than 8,000 people visiting booths at local schools and universities and the “Buck the Norm” website in the fall of 2011 to enter a “win your break” promotion for a $2,000 travel voucher.

“We provide promotions that make them think about how they use their money,” Fathree says. Events are staffed by Gen Y employees.

Constant evolution

Fathree says serving Gen Y requires evolving in response to their preferences, which include online and mobile banking. “These are technologies we’re comfortable using
because we grew up with them.”

“Buck the Norm” growth continues to exceed Tinker Federal’s annual goals, with Gen Y membership on pace to increase 6%, from approximately 29,400 members at year-end 2010 to just over 31,200 members in September 2011.

“Buck the Norm” materials will be revised in 2012 to provide a fresh look and ensure the website remains relevant to Gen Y. Fathree notes that efforts to appeal to Gen Y are
reinforced by branch staff who deliver high-quality information, advice, and service.

“You have to find a way to engage this group,” Fathree adds. “They have so many messages coming at them every single day. You have to separate yourself, whether it’s through social media, being at events in the community, or keeping website content fresh and interesting.”

Next: Seeds for success

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