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CU Perceptions: Word Associations & Millennials

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

We held focus groups in four cities (Columbia/Jefferson City, Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis) to see what words or phrases Millennials associate with credit unions or banks. During the focus groups, our facilitator displayed the following 12 phrases:

  • Convenient Hours
  • National Network of ATMs
  • Savings Accounts
  • Checking Accounts
  • Better Interest Rates
  • Member Owned
  • Community Based
  • Credit Cards
  • State-of-the-Art Services

Participants were then ask to label each phrase with a sticky note. Participants had three sticky note options to choose from - bank, credit union or "other." When a participant placed an "other" sticky to a word, it meant that participant didn't believe the word describe a credit union or a bank. The responses were totaled by category. 

Here's what Millennials had to say:

Words Associated with Credit Unions:

  • Member-owned
  • Community Based
  • Lower Fees
  • Better Interest Rates

Words Associated with Banks:

  • Checking Accounts
  • Savings Accounts
  • Mobile Banking
  • National Network of ATMs
  • Credit Cards
  • Mortgage Loans

Words Associated with Other:

  • Convenient Hours
  • State-of-the-Art Services

When asked why "state-of-the-art services" and "convenient hours" weren't labeled with credit union or bank, the respondents explained it like this:

"Banks are never open when I need them to be, like when I get off work or on the weekends." (Read more about convenience here.) 

And they explained that innovative products and services are coming out of companies like Apple, Google and Amazon - all of which are beginning to play in the financial space. 

It's interesting to point out that credit unions did not earn the most points for any financial product (checking, savings, credit cards, mortgage loans). Instead, Millennials associated these products primarily with banks.

Here's the full breakdown: