Catalyst News

Key Demographic Trends for Authentic Marketing

by Catalyst Corporate | Oct 08, 2019

No two members are alike. So, why are we still marketing to them the same way? The key to authentic marketing starts with diversity.

“People tend to think very narrowly about diversity, but it comes in many forms. Understanding that is crucial to knowing, and better serving, your member base,” said nationally recognized marketing and demographics expert Kelly McDonald.

McDonald, a three-time best-selling author and professional speaker, discussed economic, demographic and psychographic trends on day two of Catalyst Corporate’s Economic & Payments Forum last week.

To better understand this concept, McDonald turned her attention to the U.S. Census Diversity Index for a closer look at historical trends. The census defines the Diversity Index as “the probability that two people chosen at random would be of a different race and ethnicity on a 0-100 scale (the scale ranges from 0, no diversity, to 100).”  In 1980, the Diversity Index score was 34. The forecast for 2020? 65. What does this tell us? Diversity in the United States is increasing – with great stride – every decade.

But, diversity encompasses much more than race, gender, religion and ethnicity. It comes in many forms, including:

  • Introverts vs. extroverts
  • Creative thinkers vs. analytical thinkers
  • Small business owners vs. large corporate executives

She began her presentation by outlining the top five trends credit unions should leverage to achieve “authentic marketing.”   

Trend #1: The Real Real

Diversity drives data that provides actionable, marketable insights, and companies are starting to catch on. Now more than ever, companies of all sizes are showing us the “real real,” said McDonald. Organizations are recognizing the value in demographic trends, and they’re using this data to better understand their customers’ wants in terms of marketing. “The “real real” drives business, because people respond to advertisements they can relate to,” she added. Show people as they are, and make sure your credit union’s marketing efforts truly reflect your members – inside and out. For example, CVS banned photo enhancement from its beauty ads and Cover Girl now embraces ethnically-diverse models.  

Trend #2: Give People What They Want

It sounds like a no-brainer, but how is that done? By factoring in demographic data when marketing to your member base. It’s important to consider regional differences, such as the needs and wants of southerners compared to those who live in the northern portion of the United States. “People can be different in many ways, so their wants and needs will differ, too,” said McDonald. She notes that major corporations tailor their product offerings to better accommodate regional customers. For example, Burger King serves its breakfast sandwich on a biscuit in Birmingham, AL and on a bagel in New York City. “The same concept can be applied to your credit union’s services,” she added.

Trend #3: Millennials & the Changing Family Structure

Millennials now rule as the largest generational cohort, and they’re here to stay, McDonald said. “In 2019, Millennials officially eclipsed the Baby Boomer generation,” said McDonald. And with this generational shift, come important marketing considerations credit unions need to take into account.

Millennials are postponing marriage, making parenthood a priority and redefining the American family unit. “They’re choosing to focus on personal and professional goals before getting married. They don’t feel economically ready, and they’re a little skeptical of marriage,” she said.

Although they’re waiting to get married, that doesn’t mean they’re subsequently waiting to start a family. “The Millennial viewpoint: marriage is ideal, but parenthood is a priority,” said McDonald.  

As a result, today’s family composition is changing. The Millennial generation was raised by blended or merged families, so more and more, McDonald said, we’re seeing the emergence of non-married couples with children and “grandfamilies.” “The iconic American family – married couple with children – only accounts for a mere 22 percent of households now,” she added.

Trend #4: Marketing That Taps Into Values

How do you utilize the three previous trends to monetize your marketing efforts? By realigning your strategy to market what your members truly value. “Value attracts purchases, because people buy what they value,” said McDonald. Use economic, demographic and psychographic data to gain insights into what is most important to your members.

Trend #5: Helping Beats Selling

Lastly, it’s time to stop focusing solely on selling. In today’s world, “If you help me, you will sell me,” she said. People don’t need information, they need advice. And this is where McDonald said credit unions are already positioned for success.

“Credit unions are in the guidance business. You’re all about helping people. Keep doing what you’re doing, and share that with your members via social media,” she concluded.