Published: 06.10.2021



Measurement and Reporting

Research, Trends, and Insights

Rapid Digitization is Swaying Millennials and Gen-Z Into New Banking Services

The dynamics of financial institution customer loyalty are changing — banks and credit unions must take notice.

All modern banking customers and members want to be sure they can access their money easily and quickly. They also want some form of a meaningful relationship with their bank or credit union. In the old days, this meant face-to-face interactions with bankers. Yet now, digitization across the financial services industry is growing fast, and that trend will continue. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital banking and forced banks and credit unions to evolve at an exponential speed to create more effective and efficient ways to meet these consumer needs. It was a shift that was already underway — or should have already been underway from the perspective of banks and credit unions that want to remain competitive. But the industry is at a crossroads. Customer loyaltyiCustomer loyalty referes to a consumer sticking with one brand or company over their competition. If a traveler always chooses to fly Southwest Airlines and never Delta or American Airlines, that consumer is showing customer loyalty. Loyalty can be based on price alone or on a more emotional connection. Maybe a consumer only rides Trek bicycles because of their worldwide c... Read More dynamics are changing, with the inclination to embrace digitization and modernization now coming directly from younger customer demographics.

According to a BAI Banking report, millennials and Gen Z demographics indicated their primary financial services organizations understand their financial needs. While 83 percent of millennials and 70 percent of Gen Z said they and their banks and credit unions are on the same page, the damaged economy from the pandemic has shaken trust in financial institutions in these key demographics. The research also indicated each demographic is somewhat less likely to be with their primary financial services organization a year from now. About one of every four consumer reports that they will be switching to a new bank or credit union in the next six months. More than half of new customer and member acquisitioniCustomer acquisition is the act of creating a new customer for a business through a trackable method such as advertising, marketing or sales. Customer acquisition transcends marketing and indicates an action was taken such as a purchase. For example, marketing might get a potential customer to click on a digital ad which creates recognition, but acquisition is the sale whi... Read More will come from 18-to-34-year-olds.

It will be up to those financial institutions to meet their entirely different set of consumer priorities and expectations while effectively and efficiently attracting the right demographics at this opportune moment. 

Although older demographics control most of the deposits, millennials make up half of the global workforce (the oldest segment of the millennial generation is now entering their 40s!) and Gen Z is the largest generation on the planet that is on the cusp of breaking into being an economically powerful group of decision-makersiA decision-maker is the person within a company who is charged with being the final say as key decisions are being made. It's important in sales, for example, to understand who the ultimate decision-maker is so that efforts are targeted to the key person who has the authority to implement change, approve buying decisions, etc.. This has been a tumultuous time to say the least, with assumptions challenged like never before. For banks and credit unions, acquiring the right account holders in the essential millennial and Gen Z demographic involves leaning into rapid digitization. 

There is an opportunity to create account holder experiences that are essential to consumers’ financial lives, anticipating their needs, and giving them control and confidence in their financial futures; yet there are now more financial choices than ever, which means there is a highly competitive financial services ecosystem vying for these key audiences. Non-traditional fintech entrants introduce new alternatives all the time, and barriers to try something new are much lower.

The pressure to adapt financial services to better serve incoming generations is nothing new. But, in today’s economic climate, banks and credit unions cannot afford to ignore the call for digital innovation and integrated services. It will be up to those financial institutions to meet their entirely different set of consumer priorities and expectations while effectively and efficiently attracting the right demographics at this opportune moment. 

There is certainly a massive opportunity to acquire new account holders during the rest of this year into 2022 — but how?

Analytical Capabilities

Brands must make sure to identify the consumers who show a behavior to switch their financial institution or start a first-time relationship with a financial institution. But being able to identify the right kind of consumer that they want to target is essential. Banks and credit unions cannot target just anybody, they must target somebody who’s going to have a deep product need and balanced relationship with an institution that is ultimately going to generate a profitable return for the bank or credit union.

More than half of new customer and member acquisition will come from 18-to-34-year-olds.

One of the main challenges with acquisition campaigns is that financial institutions in the past felt like they’ve gotten burned in the sense that they’ve attracted many account holders, but not valuable ones. So partnering with a third party to utilize comprehensive data analyticiAnalytics is the analysis of raw data to extract meaningful patterns or information. In the marketing world, analytics tell us a lot about consumer behaviors, which can affect how we market to those consumers. If analytics show a consumer only eats healthy food based on their online shopping and searching history, they are probably not the best target for communication fro... Read More capabilities can target the best candidates out of the larger pool. 

Omnichannel Strategies

Reaching qualified demographics requires an orchestrated and personalized experience thoughtfully delivered across channels. Deep, intelligent consumer insights, connect behavior-based signals and deliver a personalized experience at the right time with the right digitization-friendly message. This includes touchpoints like emails, text messages, digital, or direct mailiDirect mail is the act of using the postal service to deliver promotional marketing material direct to a customer based on demographic information such as age, location or income. Direct mail pieces can include postcards, catalogs and other promotional pieces enables one-on-one communication with your audience, so you can control who receives the message and when they rece... Read More

To effectively reach the right younger consumers primed for acquisition means knowing what’s going to resonate from a creative perspective and how to deliver that messaging to the appropriate audience.

The gap between banks and credit unions versus tech-enabled upstarts is rapidly narrowing. millennials and Gen Z customers are tech-savvy, smartphone-native thinkers that come to expect an always-on digital world. They represent the best potential customers or members banks and credit unions have seen in decades. It will be up to those financial institutions to meet their entirely different set of consumer priorities and expectations for digital-forward customer acquisitions.