On My Mind

Share the Difference

CUNA’s research sheds light on young adult awareness of CUs.

August 1, 2015

We devote this issue to the results of CUNA’s annual National Member & Nonmember Survey, sponsored by Credit Union Magazine and published in collaboration with CUNA’s market research department.

Many findings are encouraging:

  • The credit union movement is getting younger. The average age of a member dropped by nearly two years: to 46.7 years old, from 48.5.
  • The percentage of young adult consumers ages 18 to 24 who are credit union members is growing, to 28% from 22% in 2013.
  • Members are enthusiastic supporters. Applying the Net Promoter ® model, 60% of members are “extremely likely” to recommend their credit unions to others, up from 57% in 2013. This translates to an overall Net Promoter Score for credit unions of 42%, outshining the banks’ score of just 8% from 2013.
  • Peak borrowers (ages 25 to 44) represent about 35% of members, a percentage that’s showing gradual growth, influenced in part by changing U.S. demographics.

But the research again underscores the following challenges of capturing the full attention of these consumers:

  • Nontraditional competitors are growing, and this might be influencing the decrease in the percentage of members who look to their credit union as their primary financial institution.
  • Just one of three U.S. adults is a credit union member—and more than three-quarters of members also have accounts at banks.
  • A large segment of young adult respondents say they don’t know about credit unions and one of four couldn’t be persuaded to switch to one yet.

Many credit unions are meeting these awareness and loyalty challenges head-on, as you’ll read in this issue. through focus groups, target marketing, advocacy messaging, and targeted product development, they’re creatively at work to understand what it takes to serve these young consumers and turn them into faithful users of credit union products and services.

CUNA and our league partners have the same focus, organizing awareness events as part of national and regional meetings this year, including during the National Conference of State Legislatures’ Legislative Summit this month in Seattle (“CU messaging blankets state legislators’ summit,” p. 18).

The story of the credit union difference has many themes: low-cost financial services, low or no fees, not-for-profit cooperative model, member- owners, community focus.

Some of these themes—cooperatives, community, low fees—strongly resonate with millennials, according to our research. To extend your reach and maintain healthy growth, just keep telling your story. though it might sound familiar, many have never heard it before.