3 Myths About Gen Y (From a Gen Yer)

  • Melanie Friedrichs
  • March 11, 2013
  • 1

Originally posted by Melanie Friedrichs on The Andera Blog. Follow us on twitter @AnderaInc.

Working at Andera, I hear a lot advice for marketing banks and credit unions to Gen Y. Most of it is genuinely good advice, but, as a Gen-Yer fresh out of college, some of it just leaves me shaking my head. Here are three “myths” that I see often. (The YouTube videos linked to and from this article may not be office appropriate. You were warned.)

1. Traditional Banking Isn’t “Cool”

Yes, there are some things that my generation avoids purely for fear of social stigma. Sweatpants with elastic bottoms are a good example, unless, maybe, you bought them from a thrift shop. But that list is very short; we make the overwhelming majority of our decisions by weighing the costs and benefits like everyone else.

Thrift Shop

The economics have got to make sense. Video: “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore & Lewis

However, the costs and benefits we face may be different, and our understanding of those costs and benefits may be different as well. For example, we don’t use credit cards as often as our parents for two reasons, one rational and one informational. First, rewards may not be worth the hassle of applying and remembering to pay the bill at the end of the month, especially because we spend less and only qualify for low-reward starter cards. Second, many of us don’t understand the exact mechanics, risks and rewards of a credit card, and find it easy to continue with what we’re comfortable with – debit cards and cash.   I think, although don’t know, because I wasn’t alive and wikipedia is unhelpful, that this information discrepancy may have a historical basis; when our parents came of age, credit cards (or charge cards) were the norm and debit cards were nonexistent, but today debit cards are the default payment option for many of us and credit cards are an optional add-on.  These types of issues also apply to other financial products and services, including CDs, auto loans, mortgages, PFM, etc.

Of course, we also make irrational, emotion-based buying decisions, and may make them more than often than our wiser elders, and we probably give modern, well-designed products a little more weight than they deserve, but no overarching force of “cool” guides our actions. The best way to get to Gen Y is to think hard about the information and incentives we have and make offers accordingly.

2. We Prefer and Demand Mobile

Yes, we love our mobile phones and we spend a lot of time on them.  But a lot of us don’t even know that we can bank on our phones, and most of us have never heard of remote deposit capture, peer-to-peer payments, or digital wallets. This is changing rapidly (by this time next year this statement may no longer be true), but for now, bank and credit union marketers shouldn’t assume that we know all about mobile banking.  If you say you have mobile banking without explaining the benefits, we might just give you a blank stare and walk away.

This industry-wide assumption came as a big surprise to me when I first started working at Andera, although it’s easy to forget after a few weeks of immersion in the “mobile mobile mobile” retail bank marketing world. My first impressions are captured here.


Sometimes we have a love/hate relationship with our phones too. Video: “Telephone” by Lady Gaga.

3. You Can Only Reach Us Through Social Media

Yes, we do spend a lot of time on social media. But unless you’re an entertainment or news source, or have anunusually appealing brand, we don’t want to follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook. In fact, most of us aren’t on Twitter at all, and those of us who are use it mainly to tweet at friends, get updates from major news outlets, or make knowing references to the Harlem Shake. It’s no surprise to me that the banks and credit unions are turning away from Twitter.  The best way to reach us is through email. Mine’smfriedrichs@andera.com.

Harlam Shake Office

Social media is where we talk about the important things, like this. Video: “Harlem Shake, Office Edition”

Please share your thoughts / opinions in the comment section!

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Melanie manages the blog for Andera, a small company that provides customer acquisition solutions to banks and credit unions. She is a member of the first class of Venture for America, a two-year fellowship in entrepreneurship that seeks to revitalize American cities by matching recent graduates with small companies in low-income cities. She graduated from Brown University in 2012 with an A.B. in economics.

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