The Gen Z experience

This fall I had the opportunity to partner with Junior Achievement to work with high school seniors to solve a challenge for the credit union. The challenge posed was one with which all credit unions struggle: “How do we reach Gen Z?” The information gathered and presented by these students was invaluable in achieving insight into the Gen Z financial experience. 

The students surveyed their peers at Norcross High School in the metro Atlanta area:

  • 53.3% of students surveyed are employed
  • 75.8% have a bank account
  • Only 11.3% knew about credit unions, with 44.7% knowing very little (1 on a scale to 10)

These results supported the theory that while Gen Z is beginning its financial endeavors, much like prior generations, credit unions are not being considered. A lack of awareness results in these “emerging borrowers” following queues from their parents and mentors when making decisions for their choice of financial institution. 

The students also polled their peers about their overall comfort level with money. 

  • 55.3% of students surveyed responded they manage their money well but still do not know many details about finance. 
  • Another 25.5% said they knew a little bit but still don’t understand how it all works 

Again these results support a strong need for financial literacy among youths. Gen Z classifies the generation born since 1996. This means the oldest of this generation will be turning 25 in 2021 – meaning they’ve graduated college and are in the early years of establishing a career, family, 401K … adulting. While the subjects of this research were high school students, the seniors who responded will be graduating, starting their first job, moving out of their parents’ house and applying for their first loans and credit cards. All while only knowing the basics of finance and unaware of the difference between banks and credit unions. 

This research lead to solving the overall challenge for the project – “How do we reach Gen Z?” 

  • 55% of respondents spend at least 4 hours a day on social media
  • 36.2% spend the most time on TikTok, followed by 27.7% on Snapchat and 19.1% on Instagram

These results indicate while teens are still spending a significant amount of time on social media, the channels on which they interact are not those on which financial institutions traditionally advertise. 

The key takeaway of this project was Gen Z is a prime market for financial literacy, and they would consider credit unions if they were aware of them. However, advertisements and information must be shared where they are looking. There is a huge opportunity for creative engagement on TikTok and Snapchat, channels that are not currently oversaturated by other financial institutions.  While these channels do not lend themselves to traditional social ads, with a little creative muscle, credit unions can achieve success in reaching this prime market.

Britney Bailey

Britney Bailey

Britney Bailey is the Marketing Director for Excel Federal Credit Union.  She has a decade of experience in marketing, public relations and sales.  Prior to joining Growth by Design, Britney’... Web: https://www.excelfcu.org Details

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