PR Insight: Working With Generation Z

group of young generation z members watching their smartphones
By Anna Stanley

3 minutes

Video, personalization and privacy are key factors for winning over this group of potential members.

If your credit union isn’t already thinking about how to engage with the new generation of consumers, Generation Z, it should be. According to research from Bloomberg, Gen Z is set to surpass millennials in 2019 as the most populous generation, making up about 32 percent of the global population. They are also making a big impact on purchasing decisions. According to Nielsen, millennial buying power is an estimated $65 billion; the working members of Gen Z have already eclipsed that with an estimated $100 billion in purchasing power, according to a 2018 Barkley study.

The challenge in connecting with Gen Zers is that they hold (or will hold) credit unions to the same standards as digital-centric companies like Amazon and Uber, which serve as high-profile examples for how businesses should interact with consumers. Financial institutions are being held to the same high standards for delivering a seamless, intuitive experience. 

Video is quickly proving to be one of the most effective types of content for reaching this market. Gen Z watches twice as many videos online and on their mobile devices than any other generation. Whether you’ve noticed or not, Gen Z has also already made its mark on social media. They crave extremely personalized experiences but also fiercely protect their privacy. Gen Z favors ephemeral platforms over highly-produced social media, changing the way marketers create and think about content.

There is a shift towards a more visual social landscape. In fact, research indicates that members (and perhaps even more importantly, potential new Gen Z members) will spend an average of 88 percent more time on an organization’s site that utilizes video than they would if were there no video. According to a study by MobileMonkey, 87 percent of marketers are using video in their campaigns, and 90 percent of customers say video helps them make buying decisions.

Why? Video is more engaging than text, since most people are visual and/or auditory learners, and video incorporates an emotional connection between your institution and the viewer. It is also more effective in presenting educational or inspirational content that parallels your member’s unique life experiences, which can help build a bond and strengthen your member relationships. This connection is crucial—engaging members by providing solutions to their economic concerns and worries and by being a true partner helps them achieve their financial goals and builds loyalty and trust.

An easy place for credit unions to begin fostering this emotional engagement with Gen Z is by focusing on key milestones that mark your members’ lifecycles. Instead of simply addressing the transactional aspect of the credit union-member relationship, highlight key moments like graduation, marriage, expanding families, buying a first home, retirement, etc. These not only provide excellent opportunities to demonstrate your institution’s value at every stage of life, but also they are also opportunities to connect positive memories and experiences with your brand.

As credit unions look to work more closely with the upcoming Generation Z market, they will need to up their digital and visual game. Leveraging video will be a must. Furthermore, it will be crucial for credit unions to learn to balance security concerns with this generation’s expectation of personalized experiences and service, forcing CUs to rethink their content and marketing strategies in the years to come. cues icon

Anna Stanley is an account supervisor at William Mills Agency, the nation's largest independent public relations firm focusing exclusively on the financial services and technology industries. The agency can be followed on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or its blog.

Credit Union Management’s online-only “PR Insight” column runs the first Thursday of every month.

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