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Are You Ignoring Gen-Y? Parents? Gen-Z?

There’s a lot of talk in the financial industry about “growing relationships” with a Gen-Y audience. Here’s two things you should be doing.

#1 – Don’t ignore them.

“But we’re not!” you protest. “We have defined Gen-Y as an important part of our future strategy.” Great. But what happens when they walk in the branch? Do you make them feel important? Do they get gold-star service? Does your front-line staff know how critical Gen-Y is to your success? Do they know how to treat them special?

Key Question: How does your staff react when someone who looks like this walks into your branch:

Remember what you looked like when you were young? Do you remember how great it felt when someone took you seriously, listened to what you had to say and treated you like you were important? It’s probably didn’t happen all that often, but when it did, you remembered it. For a long time.

Bottom Line: You’ve got to align your brand strategy with your front-line actions. If you spend a lot of money marketing to Gen-Y, make sure your delivery channels are following through and know what to do.

Raddon | Strategic Guidance for Accelerated Growth

#2 – Don’t ignore the parents.

Unequivocally, parents are the most important way to win a younger audience. For most kids, their parents (or “the ‘rents” as they call them) set-up their first bank accounts. From that moment on, inertia – that all-powerful force that keeps people stuck in financial relationships – begins to take hold.

Here’s two great articles from Project New Age on the importance of parents in Gen-Y financial services marketing:

  • When Connecting to Gen Y, “Moms” the Word
  • Half of all Gen-Y members referred by family

So basically, if your financial institution wants someone in their late teens or early 20s, you should have been marketing to their parents 10 years ago.

What comes after Y? Get started now.

So maybe it’s too late and you blew your chance to reach Gen-Y through their parents, but now is the time to start worrying about what comes after Y – the next generation. Don’t wait another 5-10 years to try to figure out what you should be doing to reach Gen-Z. Start marketing to their parents today.

And do you know who that is? Today, it’s Gen-X. But really soon (maybe even now), Gen-Y will be the young moms and dads you should be targeting.

Bottom Line: As a financial marketer, it’s easier and less expensive to reach kids through their parents than it is to battle inertia when those kids get older and grow up.

All content © 2017 by The Financial Brand and may not be reproduced by any means without permission.

Digital Banking Report | 2017 Marketing Trends


  1. Brad Garland says:

    Nice Jeffry, you are rocking out some great posts lately.

    Couldn’t agree more than the quickest way to a Gen-Y’s heart, is their parents (even if the GenY’ers don’t want to believe it is). Brad=Guilty of that

  2. Thanks Brad.

  3. You know, that’s a great point Ben. Why not do a piece that speaks specifically to parents of kids in that age group. “Here’s some helpful financial resources for your college-bound kid.”

    Ben, what does Filene have cooking for Gen-Z?

  4. Fair enough.

    And I’m all for killing the ambiguous Generation X, Y, Z naming convention. What’s next? Excel-style AA, AB, AC, etc.? I think this dies with Z. I like Millenials better. I was just sticking with the X-Y-Z theme for the article.

  5. Agreed on the parent connection. Johanna Gomera, consumer loan manager at $1.7 B Affinity FCU, recently told me that 85% of her student loan inquiries come from parents.

    I also suspect that parents play a critical role in helping college-bound and moving-out children choose financial services products. I was 24 and had moved three times before I made a financial decision that didn’t have my parents’ fingerprints on it.

  6. Ahhh … Gen Z. I thought we’d argued enough about “Millenials” vs. “Gen Y” vs. “GeNext”

    We’re actually ignoring them right now … on purpose. From the beginning we realized that there are a ton of resources and programs aimed at children’s education and financial literacy. In addition, Gen Z (who I will arbitrarily cap at 15 years of age), doesn’t yet have a full need for financial services. They’re definitely using money, but it’s under their parents’ thumb.

    We were most interested in products and ideas that are applicable to the market now and could be put profitably in the market now. That’s not to say, we should ignore changing needs, but it was important for us to focus our attention around the 16-30 year olds … at least for this project.

    Now if you have some contribution money sitting around, I’m sure we can start looking at whatever you want 🙂

  7. Jeffry Pilcher says:

    Dane Coalson at echoes this advice in his article, “Getting in Front of Youth: Open Their First Account.”

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