Clothing retailers, snack-food makers, soft drink companies - name
virtually any producer of consumer goods or services and you're
virtually guaranteed that teenagers are fixed in their marketing
crosshairs. And for good reason; in terms of both dollars and spending
discretion, today's teens have unprecedented spending power.
Consider the following. Despite the sour U.S. economy, teens still
managed to spend $170 billion in 2002 according to a study by leading
teen-focused market-research firm Teenage Research Unlimited (TRU).
That's a jump of about 15 billion compared to 2000 data compiled
By any measure, teens are now power consumers and increasingly
important marketing targets for credit unions. Awareness of and
opinions about financial services, which ultimately guide long-term
decisions on financial services, form during the teenage years.
As credit unions look to cultivate the next generation of members,
effectively marketing to teens becomes critical.
As a company that helps credit unions improve their marketing approach,
it's important for us to understand how teen awareness and opinions
of financial services are fed and developed. Recently, Liberty Marketing
Services tapped TRU to conduct research on which information sources
and mediums teenagers turn to most frequently for information on
financial service offerings, options and issues. The study surveyed
more than 2000 teenagers during January and February 2003. Interestingly,
we discovered that traditional financial services marketing efforts
may be missing the mark with teens. Some of the key findings:
- 89 percent of teenagers surveyed rely most heavily on
their parents for information on financial services. While
this shows that marketing efforts targeted at parents stand a
reasonably good chance of passing through to children, parental
preference and bias may influence the sophistication and accuracy
of information supplied to teenagers.
- On average, teens do not credit media commonly associated with
financial services marketing - such as television, the Internet
and marketing brochures from financial institutions - as go-to
sources for useful information.
- Nearly 60 percent of respondents cited their school as
a primary source of information on financial services.
The three service areas receiving most of the attention in schools
are financial aid for college, stocks and related investment tools,
and taxes. However, with more than 40 percent of students not
citing school as significant source of information on financial
services, credit unions can view this as an opportunity to work
more closely with secondary education.
- Age 18 to 19 represents a critical crossroad where teenagers
migrate from learning about financial services exclusively from
their parents and school, to seeking additional information from
Tips for Targeting Teens
When it comes to teen marketing, credit unions and other financial
services providers have unique challenges that more novel product
and services companies, such as video game makers and soft drink
manufacturers, do not. So how can credit unions effectively target
this increasingly important demographic and convert them from casual
consumers of financial services information to tomorrow's members?
First off, it's vital to get to them early, directly and creatively
on the marketing front. Here are a few ways credit unions can modify
their marketing approach to make them more effective for teens:
- Stay in touch with trends and speak their language. The
biggest factor in appealing to this group is being relevant. To
do this, you must constantly update and modify your marketing
- Plug into the local "teen scene." Get involved
with teen causes to demonstrate that you want to be a part of
their social concerns. This would include issues such as drinking
and driving, drug abuse, peer pressure, etc.
- Tune into their interests. Focus your marketing content
on what they really what to learn about and work in products and
services that address these interests. This would include aligning
marketing programs around interest such as music, computers, fashion,
learning another language, etc.
- Practical incentives are most compelling. If you are
going to offer marketing incentives for account openings, consider
items that really center around what most teens do in their leisure
time (listen to music, talk on the phone, shop at the mall). Avoid
incentives like concert tickets, amusement park tickets or other
incentives of which teens might not be able to take immediate
advantage and have a limited "shelf life."
Most, if not all, consumer products companies follow these general
guidelines. By following these tips, credit unions can help ensure
that their marketing approach for teens will resonate and create
the reinforcement necessary to convert today's teens into tomorrow's
credit union members and evangelists.