How Financial Institutions Need To Market To Emerging Affluent Millennials

There’s been lots of conversation in the marketing community this year about marketing to the Millennial generation — those consumers who are currently younger than 34. Although Millennials currently control a small portion of the nation’s wealth and spending power, it is important for financial services marketers to work on fostering relationships with them today, particularly the emerging affluent subset who are working their way up the corporate ladder and starting to accumulate wealth.

To do that, marketers need to build Millennial-specific strategies for both messaging and media buying. Reaching Millennials and building relationships that will last into the years and decades to come cannot be accomplished by repurposing the same ad messages used for other, older generations.

Here’s how marketers can strategize to help reach the emerging affluent Millennial.

Messaging and Themes



Millennials have come into careers right after the great recession, and while much of the press about this generation’s financial outlook has forecast doom and gloom, many are taking life by the horns. Millennials are optimistic about the future, especially those who are establishing a career, managing their money, and on the path to affluence. Marketing messages should reflect this optimistic outlook whenever possible.

Another theme closely tied to this is the idea of financial security. While this generation has lower rates of marriage compared to prior generations, they are expressing positive attitudes and aspirations about being married. In other words, Millennials want to settle down. Promoting financial security is a great way to earn their trust as they build for the long term.

Perhaps as another circumstance of these formative times, Millennials are also a generation that constantly looks for added value. Financial marketers would do well to promote and highlight benefits in their campaign messaging, including rewards programs, points and cash back offers. This kind of value-add is an important element that drives the younger generation’s choices and behaviors.

Finally, marketers need to remember that Millennials are a digital generation. Older generations still value the personal connection of going to the bank and talking to a teller. This younger generation is adept at technologies and comfortable banking online from anywhere — 30% are likely to use a finance or banking app on their phone, according to my firm’s data and data provided by GfK MRI. They are looking for convenience, coverage, and the ease of electronic transactions. All marketing aimed at Millennials needs to promote this mindset.

Channels and Approaches

This digital inclination goes well beyond ad messaging, of course. Marketers need to take this always-online generation’s behavior into account with media planning as well.

Millennials are unique in that they move across channels fluently throughout the day. Nearly a third say they are likely to use a phone to check websites for financial information, showing that this generation sees no distinction between desktop and mobile Internet access. Marketers need an omni-channel approach if they want to get a consumer’s attention and remain relevant.

Finally, marketers need to remember that they won’t be the only ones delivering a convincing message. Millennials are an open generation, one that shares insight and opinion about everything from financial products to movies or meals. Friends and family members are huge sources of advice, and Millennials are more likely to trust their friends than financial advisers. In fact, a recommendation from a friend is more important to them than an institutions financial security and history. By building easily digestible and shareable facts into ad creative, marketers make it easy for existing customers to share benchmarks and benefits with curious friends and peers.

Financial marketers need to build solid relationships with the emerging affluent right now. By crafting messaging that appeals to this generation’s positive outlook and aspiration for long-term stability, and doing so in campaigns that run across channels, financial institutions will be better able to reach a highly receptive audience that will build its financial strength over the course of several decades.

1 comment about "How Financial Institutions Need To Market To Emerging Affluent Millennials".
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  1. Ronald Kurtz from American Affluence Research Center, December 8, 2014 at 12:13 p.m.

    While I am a skeptic about the current financial resources of most millennials and their importance as a marketing target for certain products or services, it is unclear whether the author is discussing the marketing of retail banking services, loans and mortgages, or investment advice. It seems some financial services may be much more appropriate for marketing to the millennials than others.

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