On My Mind

Members and Nonmembers

Credit Union Magazine sponsors national research into members’ and nonmembers’ financial lives.

August 1, 2013
Every two years, CUNA conducts extensive research into the financial preferences and loyalties of credit union members and nonmembers.
The research, which CUNA has conducted for more than 20 years, provides valuable benchmark data for measuring credit unions’ effectiveness in serving members and reaching nonmembers. It’s also a useful gauge for measuring how much nonmembers know about credit unions and what might convince them to join.
This year, Credit Union Magazine is proud to sponsor that national research. And because we’re sponsoring it, your subscription to Credit Union Magazine gives you access to the credit union movement’s most extensive member and nonmember research.
The findings of the 2013-2014 CUNA Member and Nonmember Survey Results give you an essential frame of reference for your credit union’s own research. Using this national research as benchmark data, your credit union can conduct its own research to see how it compares with national averages. 
Here are some important trends:
►A lot of your members are probably doing business—perhaps a lot of business—with your competitors.
Nationally, 85% of members also have accounts with banks. This number surprises me. How can so many members be doing business with banks and credit unions?
Once members experience the credit union difference, why would they ever darken the door of a bank? I hope the numbers at your credit union are more favorable.
►Your members might be using the bank down the street for many “convenience” services—checking accounts, online banking, and mobile banking.
Nationally, members are just as likely to use banks as credit unions for these services (banks actually hold a slight advantage for mobile banking).
►We were hoping the survey results would show a decline in members’ average age. Instead, it increased from 47.4 a couple years ago to 47.9 today.
This represents a major challenge for credit unions, which will have to beef up their marketing budgets, offer mobile banking, and become more skillful users of social media.
A big part of the problem is the 71% of nonmembers ages 18 to 24 who know next to nothing about credit unions. As you conduct research within your field of membership, this is an important age group to identify and learn more about.
►The demographic composition of your community is changing in ways that you might not fully understand.
You should have the most current data on the growth of various ethnic groups in your area, the average household income in your community, and the percentage of local residents who are unbanked or underbanked.
The four feature articles in the August issue of Credit Union Magazine provide valuable insight into the financial behaviors and preferences of members and nonmembers across the U.S. Now it’s time to conduct your own research to find out what’s going on locally.
You might think you know, but unless you’ve conducted research in the past year or two, you’re in for some surprises.
STEVE RODGERS is editor of Credit Union Magazine.