Generating Loans By the Generation

by Bryn Conway
Generating Loans By the Generation

Does your credit union have the right loan products — and the right marketing message — to appeal to each generation?

Regardless of their generation—baby boomer, Gen X or millennial—your members are borrowing and buying much more than previous generations.

To craft relevant messaging, credit unions need to understand the behaviors across each generation.

Baby Boomers: The Optimists, Idealists and Individuals
The baby boomers, those individuals born between 1946 and 1964, are a generation characterized by optimism and individuals who want to put their own stamp on the world. Boomers are marching toward retirement as empty nesters, looking for simplification and wanting to experience all the adventures they missed when they were working and raising families. Boomers are the majority of your members, numbering over 75 million. Are you going to meet the needs of this generation or are you going to let all that purchasing power be financed elsewhere?

MESSAGE: Promote the experience; forget the rate
It is really important to understand the right messages and imagery to present to your baby boomer members. They see themselves as a good 10 years younger than their actual age. Boomers are vibrant, vigorous and vital. They take care of themselves, and this generation is not going into retirement wearing cardigans and slippers, sitting in their paid-off homes as their parents might have done. For them, it’s about marketing the experience and their belief that they can still experience the world and of course, put their individual mark on it! They aren’t buying the convertible because it’s 1.5% APR; they are buying it because they want to feel the wind in their hair as they cruise down the highway.

Generation X: The Skeptics, Realists and Independents
Generation X, those individuals born between 1965 and 1980, has repeatedly been told that they are the first generation in America likely to be worse off economically than their parents. Members of Gen X are still paying off their educations while raising families and caring for parents. It’s not all bad news. Seventy-seven percent of Gen X is gainfully employed and will have ample opportunity to earn and save more as the baby boomers exit the workforce.

Credit unions should be courting Gen X like no other generation because its members are comfortable having loans. Their loan demand spans most lending products, and members of Gen X are entering their prime earning years.

MESSAGE: Transparency, advice and empathy
Messaging and marketing to Gen X is about being transparent. They don’t believe traditional promotional messages– it’s a skeptical generation, after all. Communicate empathy when marketing your products and position yourself to help, not judge. They already know they have a tough road; your credit union can show them there is a way to take care of their present and their future.

Millennials: The Diverse, Collaborative and Connected
The millennials, those individuals born between 1981 and 1996, represent nearly 42% of the U.S. adult population and contribute more than $1.3 trillion in spending annually. They are the most diverse and highly educated generation in history. Today, as members of this generation age, their economic prospects as well as credit unions’ ability to fund their pent-up lending demand is improving greatly.

MESSAGE: Recommendations, content and referrals
Millennials are less likely to be influenced by traditional media than other generations. They love their communities—whether online or in-person and value recommendations from their friends and family. Millennials are also more likely to view companies using social media as trustworthy. Use the referral power of your current members. Get your products reviewed and encourage recommendations in all channels.


Discover more at Drive ’18

Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce and are aging into what is traditionally called the prime borrowing years of life. It is important for credit unions to capture the millennial market, but when it comes to lending, the good news is that Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers still have large appetites to borrow as well. In Bryn Conway’s session at Drive 18 you’ll learn how to target your marketing message to each generation to ensure your meeting their needs and remaining relevant whether your member is 35 or 55.

About the Author

Bryn Conway
Bryn C. Conway, offers more than 15 years of experience as a former credit union executive with extensive background in strategic planning, brand development, retail delivery and public relations for credit unions from $100 million to billions in assets. She speaks the language of CEOs, top executives, and Boards of Directors – easily merging planning and strategy into results-driven deliverables. Her articles have been featured in CUES Management Magazine and CU Times. She has experience speaking to credit union CEOs, Boards and senior management, facilitating strategy sessions and providing executive-level training seminars. Bryn’s expertise has established her as a sought-after speaker covering topics ranging from strategy, leadership, retail delivery, marketing, mergers and beyond. In addition, Bryn has achieved industry recognition with the Credit Union Times Trailblazer 40 and Below Award and has received multiple industry awards for brand development, retail merchandising, corporate communications, and public relations.