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How Millennials Select Bank Products & Services [Focus Group Results]

Meredith Olmstead
Jul 13, 2018 12:08:12 PM

One long-time Credit Union client in the Phoenix, Arizona (AERO Federal Credit Union) recently conducted a focus group with current millennial members.  According to Angie Avers, the VP of Marketing for AERO, the goal of the research was to better understand how the credit union can appeal to this target audience. Participants were between the ages of 25 to 31 and split 60/40 men to women. Most were new members, having joined in the last three years or less.

The session yielded some great insights about what factors young adults consider when making decisions about banking products and services… here’s our top 5 millennial marketing tips! 

Tip 1. Millennials Want Branch Availability for Consultations When Needed

Believe it or not, even these tech crazy youngsters still like to know that there is a local branch they can visit, should the need arise. Now, do they go often?… absolutely not. And should you rely on local branches for cross-selling and up-selling to these millennials members… NO, NO , NO!

But these millennials recognize that in the case of an emergency or a complicated financial problem or application, they prefer to visit a branch IN PERSON for help. This focus group also mentioned wanting the ability to make cash deposits via ATM, which may or may not require a local branch, but this ability was a positive feature mentioned.

Tip 2. Mobile is a MUST for this Younger Generation

Younger adults definitely prefer to do typical daily transactions using their mobile device. So, if your institution’s app doesn’t offer mobile deposit or bill pay this should be a high priority to upgrade SOON. Several participants said that common mobile banking features like these are almost a prerequisite to selecting a bank.

The subjects also like mobile apps that make it easy to transfer from one institution to another, or even offer the option of transferring directly to a person (i.e. Think Venmo or Pay Pal).

But when they have questions they really prefer to speak to a knowledgeable person, so making sure you have high-quality call coverage is also really important. This is key when handling major events like core system upgrades or conversions.

You might be tempted to outsource extra hours to a remote call center, which is fine, but make sure those remote staff can and will answer your member’s questions in detail. 

LEARN MORE: 12 Decisive Steps to Grow Your Financial Institution

Tip 3. A Trustworthy Brand Matters to Millennials

When asked how important a financial institution’s brand is, the overwhelming consensus was VERY IMPORTANT. Some of these participants even closed their Wells Fargo accounts after the recent negative press reports.

On the other hand, there was no clear distinction for these young people between banks and credit unions. So really they just want a trustworthy financial institution that isn’t misleading customers and treating them badly is what these millennials are looking for.

trustworthy financial institution image

Tip 4. Personal Reviews Do Play a Role

Now this isn’t news to most of us. But these millennial members confirmed that online reviews do influence their banking decisions. Most of them start with Google for researching and reading online reviews.

However, these members place more credence in the opinions of people they know (friends and family), as they believe that people who’ve had negative experiences are more likely to post reviews online. They believe this can skew reviews to be more negative than they should be, so for this reason these online reviews are less trusted than talking to someone about their experience. 

Tip 5. Frequency of Communication Preferred by the Younger Generation

Most agreed that 1-2x per month was ok with regard to how often their financial institution should be contacting individuals. Although the majority said once a month was ideal.

Surprisingly these participants said even the occasional phone call would be welcomed. Which was an unexpected addition to the conversation.

Social media was also discussed, but with these younger adults Facebook is really falling off the map. Several of our participants have even deleted their accounts altogether, in favor of other social networks like Instagram and Snapchat. 

This blog was originally written as a guest blog for CUInsight.

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