**Originally posted on CU Insight 7/3/2012**
A lot of credit unions are doing some great things to help attract younger members. And even more credit unions are taking the necessary steps to do the same – implementing new platforms, services, and products for young people. There has been a tremendous amount of discussion on the importance of getting more members from the Gen Y demographic. “They are the future” is a phrase often used when credit union leaders discuss this all-important demographic.
But I am wondering if credit unions are so focused on doing things for Gen Y, are they missing golden opportunities with Gen X? Gen X is defined as people born between 1967 and 1981 – so the oldest are turning 45 this year and the youngest will be turning 32. Let’s discuss what people between the ages of 32 and 45 are interested in.
Many are either getting married or have recently married. That means they may need loans to pay off the bills from the wedding itself – unless of course, they eloped!! It also means that like anything in life that is just starting, these members need assurances that they have support – personally, emotionally, and financially. Credit unions can be that type of support mechanism. They may need a vacation loan or an auto loan – Gen X is a key demographic targeted by car dealers everywhere. Why not give your Gen X members the loans to purchase the cars they want to buy?
Many of these people are looking to buy a home. Of course, we’ve all heard about the slowdown in the housing market. It’s been a rough couple of years for sellers but that means it’s also been a buyer’s market. The problem is that banks have become so strict with underwriting mortgages, many of these Gen X-ers cannot get approved for a mortgage in order to buy the homes they want. CUE CREDIT UNIONS. Reach out to these folks – let them know that you are ready, willing, and able to work with them to get the mortgage dollars they need.
The younger half of the demographic are starting families. Remind these new moms and dads that the credit union can give them the tools they will need to build a secure financial future for their children. Again, this is a perfect opportunity for credit unions to step in with financial literacy, fantastic services, and valuable benefits. Back to auto loans – as a family gets bigger, there is a need for larger vehicles. Thus, there is a renewed need for auto loans. Make it a family affair!
The elder half of the demographic may be looking for a little financial assistance since their children are heading to college soon. This can be a daunting time for a lot of parents – it can be filled with a lot of worry and anxiety. Parents want the best for their children but a lot of the things they want to provide (e.g., college tuition) come with hefty price tags. The credit union can offer guidance and perhaps partner with reputable private student lenders to help these members through this process.
Gen X-ers are in the midst of their working lives. And many have seen their retirement savings dwindle or downright evaporate over the past couple of years. Credit unions can be at the forefront of the support network that is needed.
Gen X makes up a significant segment of social media users as well as online banking and mobile banking users. The importance of new technology cannot be overstated. X is the generation that has the most need for transactional efficiency, updated technology, and hassle-free ways of conducting their business.
Essentially, there is a tremendous amount of opportunity that exists through interacting with Gen X. Yes, the millennial Gen Y-ers are a crucial demographic. But don’t forget to service the members that can and should propel your credit unions to increased growth, profitability, and relevance. Those of us in Gen X will thank you!