The Way To Attract "Y"ounger Members

Data shows Gen Y financial decisions are heavily influenced by their parents; being raised in a purely credit union family I am walking proof.


The way to attract Gen Y is to attract their parents. The way to attract their parents is to have superior rates and superior services, to be a superior financial institution. According to a Callahan Internet Strategy Consortium survey, 90% of Gen Y ages 18-21 cite their parents as influential in their general financial decision making. Despite being more independent than the younger members, 63% of older Gen Yers (ages 26-29) still cite their parents as a top influence in their decision making.


I turn 20 next month, and I don’t think I’ve ever set foot, even once, in a bank. Literally. Why? I automatically think of credit unions when I think of where to keep money, where to ask for a loan, where to do anything money related. That’s how I was raised. Clearly, I am an extreme example, as my father is a hardcore credit union enthusiast, but it isn’t just my father who prefers credit unions. My older sister, my cousin, and my mother are all members of credit unions. The first time I deposited money into my own account, it was at a credit union. The truth is, I was young and had no idea what was the difference between a bank and a credit union. I just knew I was supposed to go to the latter. It took me several years to understand the differences, and I am still learning new differences every day, particularly interning here at Callahan & Associates. As I learn, my confidence in choosing a credit union grows exponentially. All I see on billboards or hear about on TV, from other people, from the news, from EVERYWHERE is “Wells Fargo this” or “Bank of America that.” I know that my first instinct would have been to go to a bank had it not been for my parents’ influence. Now that I understand the differences, I have my parents to thank for leading me to the right financial institution.


So, although it may be difficult – nay, impossible – to match the marketing onslaught of banks, credit unions should not spend all of their energy marketing to Gen Y in an attempt to attract Gen Y. Save a little of that enthusiasm to market to their parents.


June 24, 2010


  • There is a critcial shortage of informative articles like this.
  • The article is a good read, however,marketing wise, how can we reach the younger demographic? Yes we have superior rates and services.
    Joan M Jensen
  • Hi Joan,

    In response to your comment, I posted a part 2. I hope I answered your question, which I thought was a great one. I always appreciate feedback, and I hope you get a chance to read Part 2!
    Pat Sebastian
  • Great first-person take, Partrick. Very authentic and credible. Keep up the good work. We need to see more genuine Gen Y stories like this. Also, that's how I discovered credit unions, too -- my Dad.
    mike lawson