The Credit Union National Association recently released the 2015-2016 Environmental Scan. The E-Scan offers insights in 10 primary areas affecting credit unions, including lending, economics, technology and of course marketing. The E-Scan is a must-read for any credit union executive and is also an outstanding planning tool to use.

The marketing section is entitled “Meet Millennials’ Expectations.” It also links branding with reaching the Millennial generation by saying “Establishing a trusted relationship with young adults might mean taking a hard look at credit union branding decisions.”

According to the E-Scan, there are three factors that come into play when it comes to credit unions’ visibility with the younger generation:

(1)    Dilution of relevance

As the E-Scan notes, in five years millennials collectively will exert $1.4 trillion in buying power annually. That’s a lot of money when it comes to financial services. The challenge is that millennials are not finding credit unions relevant. The report suggests, “rekindle your relevance by finding and filling the dire needs of millennials, the needs that banks aren’t naturally willing to be able to support.”

(2)    Brand confusion

“Collectively, credit unions are the alternative millennials so desperately seek. The problem is, they’re largely unaware credit unions exist,” the E-Scan says. It goes on to argue that the term “credit union” is not necessarily negative (just maybe unknown). While there is certainly confusion among this key demographic, that confusion actually presents and opportunity to educate younger consumers about your brand.

(3)    Broken word-of-mouth cycle

While word of mouth marketing is extremely powerful, most credit union members are from older generations (Boomers, Greatest Generation). And when those generations are referring your credit union they are more than likely referring their own friends. Thus older referrals only beget older members. The solution the E-Scan suggests is that you ensure your credit union is offering products and services that Millennials want. “Credit unions must closely align their strengths with millennials’ desires.”

 One of the best parts of the E-Scan is its action items after each chapter. With the marketing section the authors went even deeper, giving 12 strategies to reach millennials.

These were just a few snippets about reaching the millennial generation—there is obviously much more detail about this marketing issue and other relevant areas in the E-Scan itself. To get the full context of the marketing section and to read the other insights, be sure to purchase your copy of the E-Scan. In addition to the report itself, you can also order the full E-Scan package, which includes the E-Scan report, the E-Scan Newsletter, the E-Scan DVD, the Strategic Planning Guide and the E-Scan Research & Advice Portal. When it comes to strategic planning, there is no better resource or tool your credit union can use than CUNA’s Environmental Scan.