Capturing Gen Z

Credit unions went digital in the late 1960’s at the advent of ATMs, but it would be a while before these institutions adopted certain up and coming technologies to be ready for the youngest generation. Welcome Generation Z (known as “Gen Z”). Gen Z refers to people born between 1996 and 2010, following the oft-talked Millennials. A portion of Gen Z are in college, and many have already entered the workforce.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than a quarter of the United States population belongs to Gen Z. That is over 80 million people and a lot of potential new members. 

Research shows that Generation Z has $44 billion+ in buying power as of 2020 – not to mention their influence on parents for everything from mortgages to auto loans. When that buying power is added in, their real spending power is closer to $200 billion!

 How can you get your share of this headstrong, up-and-coming cohort? While some of the traditional methods to serve young members may not work as well, like serving hot coffee in the lobby, there are several things you can do to attract and retain membership from Gen Z. 

Utilize Mobile: People born in Gen Z hardly know life before smartphones and tablets, so banking-on-the-go options suit Gen Z best. Rarely does this group use a computer desktop to bank, so having an app that allows users to do everything from deposit checks to pay bills to transfer funds is crucial. Easy-to-use digital tools and perks such as instant money transfers are just some of the things Gen Z is looking for from a financial institution. 

Rethink Your Social Approach: At one point, marketers became baffled when they realized that the millennial attention span averaged 12 seconds. Well, brace yourself . . . Gen Z’s attention span comes in at 8 seconds. One of the best ways to manage this short attention span in your online marketing is the utilization of visuals instead of plain text whenever possible. Short-form writing is the new must have skill for marketers. Keep it short, add motion and get to the point when posting for this generation.

Implement Video or Games: For these digital natives, video is king. But a buttoned-up executive yammering about the benefits of a personal savings account is not going to cut it. Instead, have your staff perform a popular TikTok (an app that features noticeably short videos) dance ? just make sure it is semi-relevant and still trendy. It can be tricky with a financial institution, but it is worth exploring the possibility of having certain members act as collaborators with the credit union brand to create original content. Additionally, finance-themed mobile games will help grab the attention of Gen Zers. 

Manage Your Credit Union’s Reputation: Before making decisions about products and/or services, this generation expects to evaluate information, especially reviews. They are SMART and will take the time to do their own research. Marketers need to ensure that information about your credit union is always transparent and available online. Be sure that information shows your organization in an honest, positive, manner. Watch your Google reviews and respond to negative comments, do not delete them. Believe it or not a few negative reviews are more respected than none. It feels more honest. Keep tabs on what others are saying about your organization and if you see a negative trend, address the issue, and share that you listened to the feedback and resolved the issue.

Things to Avoid: While there are things credit unions can do to win new Gen Z members, there are a couple things that will not go over well for this group. Hidden fees and bait-and-switch practices, like charging for a debit card, will quickly derail any loyalty Gen Z customers had to a financial brand. Another thing that most Gen Zers and some Millennials will not tolerate is obvious marketing from influencers. The people in these age groups do not want to be advertised to; instead, they prefer organic, unfussy images and videos (therefore Instagram Stories is so popular versus the grid of photos on Instagram profiles).

To build loyal Gen Z members, focus on innovation, trust, and creativity. Everyone needs a financial partner so be sure to implement these ideas and values into your credit union’s offerings. In the end, be transparent and be quick about it.

Betsy McCloskey

Betsy McCloskey

Betsy McCloskey is one of the founding partners for Plaid Swan Inc., a female owned marketing communications company located in Iowa. With over 25 years as a marketing executive, McCloskey ... Web: Details