Appealing to millennials is critical for any corporation, but with their often sour reputation, financial institutions have to try extra hard to curry favor with the selfie generation.
So says Meredith Verdone, head of brand marketing at Bank of America. In a column this week in AdAge, Verdone lays out ways the Charlotte-based bank caters to millennials, the generation of Americans born between 1982 and 2000 that now outnumbers baby boomers as the country’s biggest generation, according to new census data.
Verdone says Bank of America, the second biggest U.S. bank, has about 9 million millennial households as customers. The bank has to show its young customers that it understands them and their needs, Verdone says, not just say that it does.
Bank of America – which by one measure has had the lowest customer satisfaction score among the biggest U.S. banks for four years – does this in several ways, Verdone says.
▪ Providing financial education, something that she notes is especially important for a generation that came of age during the financial crisis of 2007-2009. One way Bank of America has done this, Verdone notes, is through its partnership with online education site Khan Academy.
▪ Partnering with outlets millennials trust, like Pintrest (tells the bank what millennials value) and Vice News (Bank of America launched a mobile-friendly video via Vice that discusses financial issues for young people.)
▪ Taking advantage of millennials’ mobility since they use online banking through their smartphones to pay bills, transfer money and deposit checks.
▪ Doing good, because young people, Verdone says, value companies that want to improve the world. Bank of America, for example, partnered with (Red) and U2 to provide more than 15 million days of medication to help prevent HIV transmission in Africa.
“Millennials really aren’t that different,” Verdone wrote. “They’re just better at figuring out what’s authentic and what isn’t, and consuming only what speaks to them. That’s why it’s critical to reach them through voices they trust.”
In a sarcastic follow-up article that refers to the lender as “Bae’nk of of America,” Gawker jabs at the bank’s efforts to be hip and reminds readers of the its hidden fees and its role in the global financial crisis.