Office of Public and Congressional Affairs Report
PROFILING A GENERATION: WHO IS GEN Y?
Many financial institutions are competing for the attention
of that elusive generation, Gen Y. For credit unions, there is
probably no better time to capture Gen Y members than now.
However, in order for credit unions to successfully market to
and retain Gen Y members, credit unions must first
understand who Gen Y is, their importance to the industry,
how they communicate, and the products they want.
This generation—roughly encompassing people born
between 1979 and 1999 and currently ages 13 to 33—makes
up more than 70 million people in the United States,
according to research by the First Data Corporation. This
group is about 20 percent of today’s population. They are
considered the largest generation since the Baby Boomers
born between 1946 and 1964, and to ensure a successful
future, Gen Y may well be the credit union industry’s most
important audience today.
With the average age of credit union members already past
the prime borrowing years, Gen Y represents an enormous
potential market for the credit union industry. The loans
made to Gen Y will become assets on a credit union’s books
and help fund the interest paid by credit unions on the
deposits of older members. NCUA Board Chairman Debbie
Matz has long noted that in order for credit unions to
“…survive in the future; they must attract more members
who are younger than the peak borrowers.”
To drive home this point, a recent study from the Intuit 2020
Report, predicts that in the next 10 years Gen Y will
transition from young, carefree spenders to young adults
starting to manage their money with families and mortgages.
Additionally, research from the Center for Financial Services
Innovation anticipates Gen Y collective annual income to
reach $3.4 trillion by 2018. At this time, however, Gen Y
makes up a very small portion of credit union membership.
In order for the industry to capture a share of the next
generation of consumers, credit unions must adopt new
technologies used by this group—like smart phones and
tablets—and communicate using social media channels, like
Facebook, Twitter, and You Tube. From an early age, Gen Y
has used computers, cell phones, email, video games, and the
internet to communicate and gather information. So it is only
natural to assume that at a minimum, they expect services
like mobile banking, remote check cashing, online bill-paying,
digital wallets, and round-the-clock service. This expectation
is something for which the credit union industry must
prepare. As Chairman Matz recently said, “If you don’t offer
what they expect, they’re going to take their business
elsewhere. That’s why it’s absolutely essential that you use all
the tools at your disposal to win over today’s consumers—
especially the next generation.”
So who is Gen Y? To sum it up, Gen Y are the credit union
members of the future. Gen Y is the group on which credit
unions need to focus in their marketing and lending programs.
Look for a follow-up column in future NCUA Report issues
addressing Gen Y and the technology landscape. For
questions about this article or general feedback, email
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