CHARLOTTE, N.C. (1/19/16)--With bank satisfaction in the doldrums and the business of millennials up for grabs, credit unions are capitalizing on recent growth by crafting their branches and marketing campaigns so that they better speak to the member of the future.
The Charlotte Business Journal recently went deep on the apparent credit union renaissance taking place in the region lately and found that credit unions are beginning to position themselves to be more attractive to younger generations.
Sharonview FCU, Fort Mill, S.C., for example, recently renovated an old auto mechanic shop into a cutting edge credit union branch, replete with a Plexiglas garage door that, when pulled shut, creates a conference room and “tech bar” dotted with iPads.
“It’s a modern space for an old-school business model: the credit union,” the article said.
Charlotte Business also noted that, according to the Credit Union National Association, credit unions have seen memberships climb at rates not seen since the early ‘90s. Between September 2014 and September 2015, memberships rose by 3.5%, pushing overall membership in the United States to more than 105 million.
In addition to high-tech branches, with millennials soon to comprise the largest consumer demographic, credit unions have recognized the importance of getting the credit union brand out there.
Few “millennials know what credit unions are,” John Radebaugh, president/CEO of the Carolinas Credit Union League, told the Business Journal. “They like the local feel. Credit unions are perfect for them, but they don’t understand what they are.”
That’s why education is key, Radebaugh added.
Though, beyond demonstrating that credit unions are the socially conscious option, marketing efforts also can show how they have kept pace with the evolving trends in technology; especially since it’s not only other financial institutions to which credit unions are being compared, according to Rick Otey, Sharonview chief operating officer.
“They want to know, ‘OK, if I can go to Zappos.com and do this really quickly, how quickly can I do this on your website?’” Otey said. “We have to be nimble enough to not just compare to other financial institutions, but nimble enough to compare to retail organizations.”