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CU Perceptions: Why Millennials Like Their PFI

This is the fourth article in the series CU Perceptions, which explores how consumers perceive credit unions in Missouri.

What do 18-30 year-olds like about their current primary financial institution (PFI)? The Missouri Credit Union Association (MCUA) set out to find answers that explain what young people find appealing about their financial institution. 

When asked what they like about their PFI, 18-30 year olds reported:

  1. Customer service
  2. ATMs throughout the country
  3. Better interest rates on loans
  4. Mobile/online banking
  5. Trust (the need to trust the place and people that handle your money)

Does anyone else notice a pattern? This list screams CREDIT UNIONS!

When asked what improvements could be made to PFIs, 18-30 year olds said:

  1. [Get rid of the] annoying phone tree when you call a bank
  2. Not able to sit down with an actual person or representative at the bank
  3. More customer service/follow-up [is needed]
  4. [The ability to] use ATMs anywhere with no fees

Again, sounds like areas that credit unions already excel in. This data shows that 18-30 year olds crave a more personal approach to customer service. They want to be treated like people, not account numbers. They want to be able to talk to a person, not get lost in a complicated phone menu.

So where’s the disconnect?

Luckily, credit unions are the perfect match for 18-30 year olds looking for a great PFI. But they’re not coming to us by the masses. Why? Because they don’t know about us. (67% of 18-24 year-olds say a “lack of familiarity with how credit unions operate” is the main reason they are not members.) We need to keep the lines of communication open and make sure our marketing efforts are targeting nonmembers. 

We should also take into account how we are communicating with 18-30 year olds. Are we telling a story with our campaigns? Are we using the right words? It can be easy to throw around abbreviations and use phrases that are lost on those unfamiliar with credit unions. Think outside of the box. Incorporate a real member’s testimonial into a campaign (but don’t use the word testimonial anywhere in the copy). Use infographics to display the advantages of credit unions over banks.

Above all, focus on your credit union’s core competencies when crafting your messaging and creative, but more importantly, showcase how your credit union already provides what these consumers want out of a PFI. Start with these and work outward.