The View from Three-and-One-Half-Inch Heels

Does your CU think outside the shoe box?

December 1, 2011

Last week I attended a function for professional librarians at which I donned cute boots with three-and-one-half-inch heels.

I was quite surprised at the response of my colleagues—that librarians typically wear sensible shoes, and what an interesting concept that we could perhaps venture out of this fashion expectation with positive results and convey an updated image that’s contrary to that of the stereotypical librarian.

Lora Kloth is a research librarian at CUNA.
Lora Kloth is a research librarian at CUNA.

Is your credit union wearing “sensible shoes?” Are you missing opportunities to challenge the expectations your members and the public have of financial institutions and the services they provide?

Perhaps a chance exists to examine current trends and think of them in new ways your credit union can capitalize upon. Let’s kick up our heels!

Are you wearing loafers when it comes to social media couponing? Would an examination of successes in other industries allow you to think outside the shoe box?

In Cornell’s “Restaurant Daily Deals: Customers’ Responses to Social Couponing” we learn that users of social couponing “like to be ‘market mavens,’ who stay on the cusp of market trend and price information.” Can your credit union incorporate this marketing device?

See also “To Groupon or Not To Groupon: A Tour Operator’s Dilemma”  which addresses benefits and pitfalls of social couponing. The benefit is that new consumers are exposed to your business, but a potential pitfall that deal seekers may not become repeat users. Is the gamble worth the risk?

Kids wearing tennis shoes are running for holiday gifts, reports “U.S. Kids Looking Forward to ‘iHoliday’ 2011,”  Apple iPads are high on wish lists for kids ages 6-12. “Two other popular Apple devices—iPod Touch…and iPhone—round out kids’ top three” wish-list items.

Are credit unions on top of this tot-techno-trend? Does the younger set merit consideration in your technology offerings? What lucrative future ramifications might be expected if you include this demographic in your technological outreach efforts?

The Census Bureau is stepping lively this week with lots of thought-provoking factoids. In “Census Bureau Releases Comprehensive Analysis of Fast-Growing 90-and-Older-Population,” we’re reminded that “People in this age group…are more likely to be women and to have higher widowhood, poverty and disability rates than people just under this age cutoff.”

Given that this demographic is growing and it has important financial considerations regarding nursing home facilities and so on, are you doing all you can do to compete for their business and meet their unique needs?

How are other institutions assisting with the financial planning needs for those who’ll be entering this age group? What can be done to alleviate problems before they occur?

Don’t get your laces tied in knots over another Census study, “The Newly Arrived Foreign-Born Population of the United States: 2010.” 

You’ll discover that immigrants’ choice of residency has changed since 2005. “The newly arrived were more likely than other foreign-born residents to live outside the traditional ‘gateway’ states of California, New York, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, and Illinois…”

Is there an influx of such residents in your area? What special financial services might they expect? Why are they choosing to live elsewhere than the usual places?

Perhaps the financial needs of this group might not be what you believe. “The Foreign Born with Science and Engineering Degrees: 2010”  indicates that “Foreign-born residents represented 33% of all bachelor’s degree holders in engineering fields, 27% in computers, mathematics, and statistics; 24% in physical sciences; and 17%” in other scientific fields.

What have credit unions done to incent this group to membership prior to their career successes? What level of loyalty might this group bring to your institution?

Walk your wingtips to “Up for Grabs: Second-Generation Hispanic Women Enroll in College at Same Rate as Third-Generation White Women But Lag in Completion.”  It reveals that "…There remain large disparities in completing college, largely because of family, work and economic reasons.”

The Hispanic market is emerging as an important one in the realm of financial services. How can you reach out to these women and help them meet their educational needs that will lead to higher incomes? Is any institution catering to them in a novel way?

The Federal Reserve study, “Tossed and Turned: Wealth Dynamics of U.S. Households 2007-2009”  “presents data on the changed situation of households and it decomposes the observed wealth changes in terms of underlying portfolio shifts. It is generally recognized that changes in the value of residential real estate, corporate equities and private businesses were important sources of wealth losses.”

How will this affect your credit union’s portfolio and membership? How are your members or your community dealing with this reality?

It’s not only fun to do the unexpected, it’s critical in the evolution of one’s existence. None of us should wear comfortable shoes all the time—we need to try on new things and take the walk to a new image. Change is good!

LORA KLOTH is a research librarian in CUNA's business-to-business publishing department.