10 FOCUSREPORT /The Underserved & UnbankedCredit union mar- keting has evolved tremendously over time.Creditunions,once seen as the mom-and-pop-shop approach to financial services for the “little guy,” have evolvedinto a strong financial cooperativemovement that empowers andenriches more than 118 millionmember-owners nationwide. Fewfinancial industry success storiesrival the growth of credit unionsin size, scope and service, and effective marketing has been centralto that growth.
But conditions are changing,and the familiar one-size-fits-allmarketing approach is losing bothits edge and effectiveness as communities throughout the UnitedStates continue to rapidly diversify.The current credit union memberpool has broadened to include arich cultural mix of individuals andcommunities, each of whom havetheir own lifestyles, principles andstandards. Marketing, classicallydefined, is the art and science ofhelping businesses attract andserve clients in ways meaningful tothem. As such, credit union marketing needs to evolve along withthe changing marketplace institutions seek to serve.
America’s Latino community,
one of the most prominent (and
soon to be dominant) groups
primed for credit union services,
Frankly, Latinos comprise a mar-
ket too large to ignore.
Like any good marketing opportunity, the rationalizationand motivation to serve Latinocommunities nationwide can befound in the numbers. Accordingto the U.S. Census Bureau, thereare 59.9 million Latinos who callthe U.S. home, comprising closeto 20% of the total population. By2060, experts say those numberswill grow to 119 million, to makeup almost 29% of the population.Today, one in five U.S. residents isLatino; by 2060, it will be closer toone in three residents.
The Latino population skews to
a younger demographic – an at-
tractive feature for credit unions
concerned about the “graying”
of their membership. And yet,
tions as a whole take
a more conservative
approach to financial
compared to other
according to indus-
try research. A higher
level of Latinos favor
tions on handheld
devices than credit
union members in
general, though old-
mouth support and
personal endorsements of credit
union services continues to be
popular among Latino commu-
The Latino community offerstremendous opportunities forcredit unions, but it is a complexmarket where members sometimes share no more than a common language. Coopera excels inguiding credit unions how to reachLatinos in culturally sensitive andmeaningful ways – factors criticalto capturing members’ interestand loyalty. The ability to grow andretain active credit union membersis critical to future credit uniongrowth, both for individual institutions and the entire industry.
It all boils down to having the
right mindset and awareness, then
executing the proper strategies to
attract and serve Latino members.
Investments in time and effortnow can yield great rewards formembers and the credit unionsthat serve them in the years tocome.
There are multiple critical market characteristics to incorporateinto traditional marketing techniques to make them more effective for this audience. And, yes,producing your marketing materials and messaging in Spanish andhaving Spanish-speaking frontline employees are must-dos, butthat should only be the beginningof your efforts.
The Latino market is nuancedand fairly complex, meaning thathomogenized financial solutionsand the marketing efforts to promote them are rarely effective.There are 22 Spanish-speaking Latin American countries, each withits own unique culture. In addition,U.S.-born Hispanics tend to think,speak and act differently than theirimmigrant parents and grandparents, which further complicatesthe service equation. Credit unionsmust understand the specific Latino communities they are servingand create segmented marketingand service strategies to complement its many variations.
As mentioned earlier, the Latinomarket embraces a younger demographic that more often favorsdigital and electronic transactionsolutions compared to most creditunions’ memberships overall.Online banking options and social media are attractive to Latinomembers, and credit union marketing and service strategies shouldlean heavily in the direction of electronic financial solutions.
That said, the market’s older
member segment still responds
to more traditional marketing
means, such as print and broad-
cast. Find ways to distribute your
print promotions throughout the
community, including posting
them with Latino-owned stores
and other merchants that serve the
community. If you have access to
Spanish-language radio and tele-
vision stations, consider adver-
tising on those outlets, as well as
sponsoring news and information
broadcasts to better connect your
credit union’s presence with the
Latino community at large.
When it comes to product creation, keep in mind that first-generation Latinos still have a needfor basic financial services, including check-cashing and remittanceservices, which shouldn’t be overlooked in what is rapidly becoming a more sophisticated productmix. Financial education acrossall generations is critical to helpingLatinos – and all members, really –become good financial consumers.
In approaching the Latino culture, understand that communityand family are extremely important, and efforts to sincerely recognize that importance will yieldbetter results. Marketing campaigns that include testimonialsshould focus on families first andhow financial services can helpthem achieve their goals. Marketing sells “the sizzle, not the steak,”as the saying goes, and any messaging that recognizes the hopesand dreams of the Latino community and offers solutions toachieving those dreams will bepositively embraced.
Speaking of the community,credit unions can better supporttheir member-service profile bybecoming actively involved in thecommunity itself. Maintaining apresence at and sponsoring socialevents, like church events and social gatherings, signals to Latinosthat they are more than just “customers.” When credit unions areactive in the community, they canbecome part of the extended Latino family – increasing members’comfort levels and enthusiasm fordoing business with the institution.
At the end of the day, Latinosare more likely than other groupsto recommend the credit unionand endorse its services to friendsand family members. The strengthof community and family ties willhelp more of those friends andfamily members embrace thoseendorsements, helping the creditunion increase membership andwallet-share among the Latinocommunities it is seeking to serve.And wasn’t that the goal of marketing in the first place? n
How Latino Members Are Changing CU Marketing
Kenia Calderon CeronClient RelationsDirectorCooperaWest Des Moines,Iowa