You’ve probably seen it in the news or in a in a blog. “The Millennial generation is ruining (insert industry here).” Or, “traditional marketing doesn’t work on Millennials…” Millennials are the new fad. And rightly so. According to Pew Research, Millennials are surpassing Baby Boomers in population and are becoming the largest workforce. This is of course an important market to target. But, there can be risks with being hyper-focused on Millennials.

The Digital Age is Changing How We Interact Daily

Innovation and technology are allowing banks and many other industries to differentiate in unique ways. Millennials and Gen Z tend to be the most tech-savvy generations and are riding that wave of innovation with ease. What’s more, a report from Salesforce claims 62% of consumers expect companies to adapt based on their actions, communications, and behaviors.

For example, the rise in these generations has increased demand for online checking accounts. Specifically, it’s the need to open these accounts on websites or mobile apps. According to a report sponsored by Harland Clarke, banks that allow customers to open accounts on their website has increased from 66% in 2017 to 76% in 2018. For mobile devices, the number of banks that allow customers to open accounts in a mobile app has increased from 18% to 32% over the same timeframe.

This is a prime example of how companies can improve the way they engage with consumers using new technologies. This is great, but not everyone is ready to adopt the new way. Some may need a bit of hand holding. This makes it exceptionally important to bridge the gap effectively.

Don’t alienate the other generations

Every marketer knows it’s important to reach out to young consumers. Gen Z is becoming the new hot topic and marketing to Millennials is the current challenge. What’s more, is the emphasis on these digital natives force companies to reexamine their investments in digital efforts. At times, this happens at the risk of alienating tens of millions of people who are over the age of 50.

Baby Boomers are still the biggest spenders in the U.S. economy. And, as life expectancy increases, they will continue to be for a while. They also have unique needs for wealth management that must be met by financial institutions.

These audiences are important. They make up more than a third of a bank’s customer base. However, we don’t want to create a division between younger and older generations. Pew Research found that the rates of social media adoption have increased for Americans over the age of 50. Pew also found that 42% of 65+ Americans have a smartphone and 32% have a tablet.

This may seem anecdotal, but it highlights an important factor in generational marketing. No generation is homogeneous. Keeping the focus on customer’s individuality will help navigate these pitfalls.

Bridge the Gap of Digital Adoption

Digital fluency may vary for these older generations. But banks and credit unions should help them use their digital services and tools. Build with the future in mind, but ensure there’s a bridge for people to cross safely.

Feedback on user-friendliness should be sought after. Social media can be a good way to get this product feedback, but it can also be biased considering social audiences are somewhat skewed towards younger audiences and more technical users.

Websites or mobile banking services that are hard to use may ruin the relationship your with these older generations. What’s worse, they will perceive it as low quality. Pew Research found that more than a third of seniors say that they have “little to no confidence in their ability to use electronic devices to perform online tasks.” And, the American Banking Association has found that just 22% of Boomers use mobile banking.

Older customers shouldn’t be forgotten as we progress in the digital age. The same way some services are designed and personalized for younger consumers, the same should be done for older consumers. It’s important understand their unique feedback and requirements – especially since they are, at times, the most prominent.

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