Millennials Overlook Principles in Favor of More Sophisticated Technology When Selecting Financial Services Providers: Study

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New research by Digital Fieldwork, based on thousands of millennial social profiles, shows credit unions miss opportunities to recruit globally minded millennials because technology comes first. Other misses: generation seeks financial advice on forums, not Facebook; credit union content marketing and social strategy off-target with millennials’ digital behavior.

Our research shows how credit union marketing tactics are mismatched to the behavior of a key audience, which reflects a common issue in marketing today.

Credit unions are failing to engage millennials online, a new research study on digital behavior of millennials and financial services shows, revealing a key reason why millennials are the least likely demographic to become credit union members despite sharing common values. In financial services, digital convenience and pragmatism prevails over loyalty or belief-based decision making.

Digital Fieldwork, a digital audience research company focused on the channels, culture and content that drive digital behavior, revealed today why 18- to 34-year-olds in the U.S. are less likely to select credit unions as their financial services provider. This is primarily due to a lack of awareness about credit unions and a perception that they are not up on the latest technology. The report’s findings debunk a commonly held belief that millennials’ consumer purchasing decisions are driven by their values.

“Millennials are very pragmatic and have high expectations around technology,” said Laurie Paleczny, co-founder of Digital Fieldwork, who noted that the research examined thousands of online data points, including publicly available profiles on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. “If convenience and functionality aren’t there, they’ll do business with banks even if they do not always respect their values.”

Paleczny said that the report, “Strangers in the Night: Credit Unions, Millennials and Digital Behavior,” offers other important insights for financial service marketers:

  • Strangers, not friends — Millennials do not seek or desire financial advice on Facebook, and credit unions are more successful with member engagement through posts about local news, sports teams, charity causes or even financial literacy programs.
  • Giving Twitter the business — The majority of credit union followers on Twitter are industry stakeholders, not customers, which suggests it is not an effective way to court millennials.
  • Prefer to remain anonymous — Blogs and forums are far more influential with millennials seeking financial advice than Facebook or Twitter.
  • Money mobilized — Millennials want to do business on mobile devices and credit unions have opportunity to partner and integrate with popular mobile personal finance apps.
  • Positively confused — Online attitudes are highly negative toward banks and generally positive toward credit unions, but confusion persists about their differences.

Altimeter Group noted in their recent report on content marketing software that 67% of marketers identify audience identification and targeting as a top need, yet only 25% were investing in this area,” said Paleczny. “It’s a big miss. Our research shows how credit union marketing tactics are mismatched to the behavior of a key audience, which reflects a common issue in marketing today.”

“Financial services providers in particular need to go beyond demographics to really understand their audience’s digital behavior,” added Paleczny, a former financial services executive. “It’s critical for them to learn how to participate in online channels and platforms where millennials are having financial discussions.”

The 53-page report is based on research conducted between January and April 2014 and provides a roadmap for financial services marketers to more effectively reach and engage millennials online. It was released on the Digital Fieldwork website on May 22 as part of an annual subscription.

Digital Fieldwork will hold weekly briefings beginning Thursday, May 29 at 2 p.m. ET to showcase the results. Media are invited to register to attend our briefing on May 29.

ABOUT DIGITAL FIELDWORK INC — Launched in April 2014, Digital Fieldwork Inc. combines over 150 of the most relevant and useful online data inputs including proprietary ethnography, search data, social media listening, social network data, content engagement, consumption and performance data, to help companies deeply understand the current information needs, behavior and culture of the digital audiences they are marketing to. Digital Fieldwork’s first report, “Strangers in the Night: Credit Unions, Millennials and Digital Behavior” is available on Upcoming reports will focus on healthcare and enterprise software.

For more information about this topic, please contact Laurie Paleczny by calling or 888.795.0402, or email Laurie at laurie(at)digitalfieldworkinc(dot)com.

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Laurie Paleczny
Digital Fieldwork

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