Aug 28 2008

Who's Joining Credit Unions

Report  
Number  
168

In order to grow membership, credit unions must answer the question: Who's joining credit unions? 

Executive Summary

For many years, credit unions knew the needs of their members quite intimately because these members shared a common experience based on employment, affinity groups, and other close-knit communities. Such credit unions still exist today, but a greater portion of credit unions are considered “community credit unions.” This shift has allowed more consumers to enjoy the benefits of credit union membership, but it also leaves credit unions with the complexity of a much more heterogeneous membership. We suspect the expansion of credit unions’ fields of membership may create a knowledge gap about their members’ needs, especially of members who have recently joined.

What is the research about?

The changing context of credit union membership creates a unique opportunity to examine several distinct groups of credit union members: new members, medium-term members, and legacy members. These distinct groups allow us to track changes in credit union field of membership and answer a deceptively simple research question: “Who’s joining credit unions?” To answer this question, we looked at understanding the following:

  • Do new members look different?
  • Do new members use different products?
  • Do new members behave differently?
  • Do new members want different things?

What are the credit union implications?

This research uncovers a number of mundane and not-so-mundane things about the credit union member of the future. For those concerned with membership growth, this report may uncover potential strategies and tactics for attracting new members in today’s changing competitive environment.

This report is sponsored by Credit Union National Association’s (CUNA) Community Credit Union Committee.