The key to unlocking Gen Z and millennial customers? Lean into their values

Only 26% of Gen Z and 14% of millennials are credit union members, representing a substantial untapped market within the financial services sector. With a looming wealth transfer of approximately $72 trillion expected to pass into the hands of younger generations within the coming years, it is imperative for credit unions to reinvent their approach to attract and engage these audiences.

As revenue for the nation’s largest credit unions continues to track downwards in 2023, credit unions must get ahead of the curb and find new, innovative ways to deepen customer relationships and attract the next generation of users.

Credit unions often take a community-based approach that is likely to resonate with Gen Z and millennials, who are known to prefer brands that prioritize social responsibility and personalized, digital-first service. Here are three key ways credit unions can drive engagement and loyalty among younger customers in 2024 by leaning into their values:

Offer youth financial literacy programs

A Greenlight survey found that 93% of parents believe it is important for financial institutions to provide financial education for their children. However, only 16% say their current financial institution offers such services.

Credit unions can demonstrate their commitment to the financial future of young people by providing resources, such as educational materials or interactive games, to help young people learn about budgeting, saving, investing, responsible spending and more.

Credit unions can also set themselves apart by extending their banking products to better serve younger demographics. Consider offering debit cards made specifically for teens and young adults, with features that allow them to learn the basics of money management as they enter adulthood. Having a debit card can help them begin to develop responsible spending habits — a critical skill for their financial future.

These types of youth-friendly offerings can appeal to a variety of generations, from those with middle and high school-aged children as well as younger millennials and Gen Zers who are looking to brush up on their personal finance skills — or set their own children up for success down the road.

Serve the local community

In addition to providing resources for people to access from the comfort of their home, credit unions are often active participants within their local communities in a way that is sure to resonate with younger generations. Credit unions can consider partnering with local schools, colleges and universities, or libraries to teach students key personal finance skills in a live setting that enables them to ask questions and get one-on-one guidance.

Greenlight also found that 93% of teens believe they need financial knowledge and skills to achieve their life goals. However, only 30 states mandate personal finance courses for students, and teens score an average of 64% on the National Financial Literacy Test. By imparting essential financial knowledge to students, credit unions play a pivotal role in equipping the next generation with the skills needed to make informed and responsible financial decisions — supporting them as they manage their finances, plan for the future, and navigate the complexities of the modern financial landscape. This not only helps bridge the educational gap, but also creates more touchpoints with potential future customers.

By investing in youth and promoting financial literacy in schools, credit unions can establish a strong presence in their community and build trust with young people and their families. Ultimately, investing in financial education at the grassroots level is an investment in the long-term economic health and stability of the community.

Invest in mobile-first banking experiences

In the digital age, Gen Z and Millennials seek mobile banking experiences due to their desire for convenience, efficiency, and seamless integration into their tech-centric lifestyles. These generations have grown up in a world where technology is integral to every aspect of daily life, and they expect the same level of innovation and accessibility in their banking interactions. A recent survey found that more than half (55.7%) of Gen Zers name mobile banking as a top factor when choosing a financial institution.

Mobile services cater to their preferences for quick and easy access to financial information, transactions, and services. With mobile banking apps, online account management, and streamlined digital processes, credit unions can meet the expectations of these tech-savvy generations, providing a banking experience that aligns with their fast-paced, on-the-go lifestyles.

Furthermore, the importance of digital-first banking experiences lies in the need for personalized and user-friendly financial tools. Gen Z and Millennials value financial transparency and control, and digital platforms allow them to monitor their accounts in real-time, set up automated savings, and receive personalized financial insights.

These features empower them to take control of their finances and make informed decisions, fostering a sense of financial responsibility and independence. By embracing a digital-first approach, credit unions can not only attract but also retain the loyalty of Gen Z and Millennials, ensuring their relevance and sustainability in an increasingly digital financial landscape.

In a changing financial environment, credit unions have an opportunity to connect with the next generation by aligning with their values and priorities. By implementing these strategies, credit unions can position themselves as trusted and caring partners in the financial journey of Gen Z and Millennials, broadening their customer base and playing a pivotal role in setting young people on the path to long-term financial success.

Matt Wolf

Matt Wolf

Matt Wolf is the SVP of Business Development at Greenlight, the family finance company on a mission to help parents raise financially-smart kids. He oversees Greenlight’s B2B strategy, including ... Web: Details