CU Water Cooler

#COOPTHINK Unlocking the Millennial Mystery

Tim McAlpineComment
Caroline Willard, Executive Vice President, Markets and Strategy, CO-OP Financial Services

Caroline Willard, Executive Vice President, Markets and Strategy, CO-OP Financial Services

Caroline Willard kicked off the CO-OP THINK 14 Conference on Tuesday morning with an overview of a new survey, entitled “Unlocking the Millennial Mystery.” CO-OP conducted the study of Millennials to better understand them as consumers of financial services. Key research objectives included:

  1. Defining the consumer’s expectations of a financial institution;
  2. Contrast those expectations with actual experiences, especially at credit unions;
  3. Identify the gaps between expectations and experiences; and
  4. Clearly articulate what consumers want in a credit union brand. 

Considering that young adult attraction has been the focus of Currency Marketing for the past seven years with our Young & Free Marketing Program, I sat up and listened intently. A compelling component of Caroline's presentation was a beautifully produced video filled with insights and personal interviews with a few of the 495 survey respondents. 

Still from the overview video

Still from the overview video

According to the study, “Positive customer experiences (for Millennials) are largely driven by the basics—deliver on expectations and treat people with respect. Positive staff attitudes are more strongly recognized on a local scale. Both credit union members and bank customers are generally satisfied with financial institutions—credit union members much more so.”

Some highlights:

  • 81% of Gen Y credit unions members said that their institution provides an “outstanding customer experience” compared to 59% of bank customers responding so for their banks.
  • A total of 96% of credit union members said they were very satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their credit union, while the figure was 88% among bank customers.
  • Credit union members are much stronger advocates for their financial institution compared to bank customers. The survey found a “net promoter score” (likely to recommend) of 38% among credit union members, with bank customers registering only 16%.

While these highlights seem like standard press release stuff (which they are), it's was the video interviews that really resonated with me. Since CO-OP is selling the full research study and the video, I can't show you the video or reveal a lot of the details. However, judging by what I saw and heard, it seems like a very reasonable price to pay for this level of insight and clarity around the next generation of potential members. The study will be available in mid-June for purchase: $299 for the full “Unlocking the Millennial Mystery” research portfolio and $199 for a comprehensive research PDF. An executive summary will also be available at no charge on


Tim McAlpine lives in Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada. He is the President and Creative Director of Currency Marketing, an integrated marketing agency specializing in helping credit unions attract the next generation of members. Tim is best known as the creator of Young & Free and co-founder of the CU Water Cooler.