Behind the flannels: Why the grunge generation is prime for credit unions

Did you grow up with computers in your school playing such “high tech” games as pioneer trail and saving your work to floppy disks that were actually floppy? Did you spend hours on your Swatch phone talking to friends while waiting by your boombox with a separate tape recorder for when your favorite song came on the radio? Did you smell like teen spirit? If so, there is a good chance you are in fact a Xennial, born between 1977 and 1983. The Xennial generation is the term for the micro-generation between Gen X and Millennials, or in other words, anyone who was alive but not yet of school age for the original Stars Wars trilogy. Xennials lived the best of both worlds in many ways: growing up with technology being a part of their lives, albeit in its infancy, yet without it controlling their lives with social media. Xennials aren’t afraid of new technology, but don’t embrace it to such an extent that they are lost without it, giving them a better sense of their place in the world. For credit unions, the key point to know here is they are currently aged 34-40, and are in prime spending years!

While Nirvana and Pearl Jam were introducing the world to grunge, Xennials wore their flannels and Doc Martens and maybe had cell phones, but rarely used them due to the high cost of calling. In ways, they were the last to grow up without technology encompassing all aspects of life, but also the first to embrace it. They are eager to adopt technologies like mobile banking, but aren’t afraid to make an actual phone call to speak to an MSR if there are issues or questions like many Millennials are. In other words, they want the personal member services that Gen Xers want to support the technology that Millennials demand.

When DVR’s replaced VCR’s for recording favorite TV shows, Xennials didn’t blink. So, when every day financial activities, such as checking balances, depositing checks, and paying bills moved from in person banking to internet banking, and then moved from desktops to mobile phones, this micro-generation could play on both sides of the fence. Many credit unions could hang on to these members without immediately offering the latest and greatest in core technology, but not for too long. And it’s most definitely in your best interest to grab these members now.

As people approach milestone birthdays, such as 40, they are more apt to take an introspective look at their lives and their plans for the future. Taking advice from CNBC, many Xennials are now reading articles such as The 9 smartest things to do with your money in your 30s. They are increasing contributions to 401(k)s, opening more than one retirement account, and looking at investment options. After a few years of freedom from their own college loans, they are increasing their contributions to their children’s 529 plans. They are refinancing mortgages to shorter terms so they can time their payoffs with future events such as college tuition, children’s weddings, 25th wedding anniversary trips around the world, and retirement!

This is the time to market to this generation. Unique savings programs that allow them to build up their rainy-day fund; investment plans for retirement goals; lending solutions that allow them to buy quality items their increasing salaries allow. Offer the technology to allow them to research themselves, but offer consulting services to strategize a personalized approach. Consider mini-seminars and classes. Create online videos they can watch on their phones, but be sure to have an MSR on hand they can still call and consult. They won’t want to come into your branch to sign the paperwork, so be sure to have e-Signatures as an option for closing loans and accounts, but don’t be surprised if they show up at your branch to talk about options for IRAs.

This micro-generation knows that reality bites. They prepared for and survived what never was in Y2K. They left college in an economic boom, only to see their 20s marred with national tragedies on both an economic and national security scale. They know their retirement isn’t guaranteed. They are also approaching the sandwich generation, when the healthcare costs will start mounting for their aging parents while still caring for their own kids. As you prepare your 2018 marketing budget, consider focusing on this age group with Facebook ads and email campaigns, but don’t forget traditional snail mail. They truly bridge the analog age and digital age, and couldn’t be happier that flannel shirts are coming back into style.

Preston Packer

Preston Packer

Preston Packer is the Director of Sales & Marketing for FLEX. Preston has been with FLEX since 2000 and has worked in various sales management roles over that time. Preston’... Web: Details