Finding this got me thinking and I want to post about this today because an overwhelming number of 18-to-30s don’t know the differences between credit unions and other financial institutions. Almost 50% of young adults are either “not very familiar” or “not at all familiar” with credit unions according to CUNA’s 06-07 National Member Survey and it’s 06-07 Survey of Potential Members.
What’s puzzling is that these surveys also found that out of all the age groups studied, young adults are “most likely to say they’re eligible to join a credit union.” That tells me that folks my age only understand that credit unions exist… but beyond a better interest rate on savings there isn’t a compelling reason to become a member.
Yes, it’s tough for credit unions to compete with larger institutions on products and services. Perhaps that bank down the street is more convenient or has more ATM’s. So where do credit unions have a competitive advantage? In credit union philosophy and values.
Why? Because young adults, and people in general, like to know they’re supporting a good thing simply by going about their everyday lives. Being a member of a not-for-profit institution that helps out in the community and gives to their members instead of fat-cat board members is right up our alley. The following, from an article on USAToday.com, helps illustrate this point
69% (of 13-25 year-olds) consider a company’s social and environmental commitment when deciding where to shop, and 83% will trust a company more if it is socially/environmentally responsible. The online study — by two Boston-based companies, Cone Inc. and AMP Insights — suggests these millennials are “the most socially conscious consumers to date.“
But how often do credit unions communicate “values and philosophy” and/or do so in a meaningful way that resonates with my demographic? Not often enough, or at least not in a way that we’re able to pick up as demonstrated by CUNA’s Survey of Potential Members. The best I’ve seen is from this YouTube video from the Young And Free campaign in Alberta, Canada.
After you watch the video… check out some of the comments left below the video. They’ll illustrate my point even further. In fact, here’s one of the comments…
…Except for the fact that in reality there ain’t one iota of difference (in North America anyway) between the two!
They’re both indifferent, self-interested financial service rackets.
Communicating how and why credit unions are different is an important aspect of gaining younger members… it speaks to the heart of why credit unions exist and offers another reason for someone to go to you instead of the bank down the street.
The more credit unions can communicate the philosophical differences that set them apart from other financial institutions, the more young adults will want to become members. As I mention in a previous post, it’s called Dominating with Difference.