Millennials (and more) in a time machine

Market to Millenials!  Market to Gen Z!  Are we repeating what has been done time and again?

We tend to look at generations as a snapshot in time. Let me explain: The oldest Gen Z (or whatever we call those youngsters with no knowledge of pre-Internet days) is not more than 20 or so, at the most. Millenials are in their 20s to mid-30s. Gen Xers are what we would call middle age. Boomers are close to or enjoying retirement (or lifelong work). Their parents are focused on the “golden years”, as we would say.

But what if we looked at them all from the same perspective, at the same point in time for each?

Let’s take a Millenial, Gen Z, Boomer, and Gen X and put them in a room together.  The catch: They are all 25.  Ok, we’ll say the room is bigger on the inside to address any temporal crises this may cause.  So we have a gathering of identically-aged people, yet they are each from a different generation.  The Boomer’s “present” is 1975, the Gen X is living in 1995, our Millenial is from this era, while the Gen Z representative has been plucked from 2025.  Once we get over those awesome pants the Boomer is wearing, it’s down to business.

We could imagine asking them the same questions posed in publications today.  “What can a financial institution do to appeal to your generation better?”  “What are you looking for in a banking experience?”  “Does feedback from friends and family influence your decisions, and in what way?”

Leave the social media, mobile banking, and other technology-based solutions on the table.  These are tools, not strategies.  Focus on the responses, the emotional aspect of decision-making.  I wouldn’t be surprised if their answers are similar.  Yes, feedback from friends is important (despite needing to actually call, write, or visit for some of our time-travelers).  Having a safe and secure experience is essential (whether it be chip cards and a secure mobile app or a branch representative who respects your privacy).  Appealing to all of them would be based in education, convenience, cost, and service.  For me, a great customer service experience is #1 when choosing a business.  Would anyone argue this has changed?  Whether I’m corresponding by Pony Express or being guided through FaceTime, I expect top-notch service that respects me as a member.

We put a lot of time and effort into learning what it takes to appeal to the latest generation.  I agree this is important.  However, why reinvent the wheel, so to speak, if this task has been done time and again?  How did you appeal to 25 year-olds 25 years ago?  50?  I’d be willing to bet the fundamentals are unchanged.  It’s just the means.

This sounds like a conversation for your upcoming board meeting.  Ask your long-serving members to think back.  Dig into the archives and pull up marketing plans from 1975 (or further!).  What can you learn from this exercise?  Have you been appealing to Millenials all along?

Hey, what’s old is new.  NES Classic, Pokemon GO, even Tamagotchi has an app.  Take your own old.  It may just work great in today’s world.

Joe Winn

Joe Winn

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