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Life Cycle Marketing for Credit Unions: Senior Households

This is the third in a series of four Filene publications on life cycle marketing for credit unions. The first two volumes covered young and mid age households. This study addresses senior households, age 65 and over.

  • William Kelly Center for Credit Union Research at University of Wisconsin-Madison

Executive Summary

This is the third in a series of four Filene publications on life cycle marketing for credit unions. The studies are based on a highly regarded life cycle segmentation method developed in the market research literature by Gilly and Enis, who found that using age alone to segment by life cycle has significant shortcomings. Augmenting age segmentation by marital status and the presence or absence of children under 18 in the household creates the most effective life cycle segments for consumer marketing.

What is the research about?

This report provides information on life cycle segments in senior households, and draws implications for how credit unions can design marketing strategies and programs to best serve these households. The data for all of these studies are from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF), sponsored by the Federal Reserve System. They used two-hour, in home interviews for a sample of 4,309 households.3 For this study we used all 4,309 households in order to have as large a sample to work with as possible. However, we found that households generally are sufficiently representative of credit union member households that the results here apply to both groups.

What are the credit union implications?

Credit unions marketing to seniors should use caution in stereotyping seniors as having savings but no need to borrow. The seniors market should be addressed for four types of loans: first mortgages, vehicle loans, credit card loans, and home equity loans. Seniors also provide a prime market for reverse mortgages. While seniors generally have more financial assets than young and mid-aged households, their use of specific savings products varies significantly with the particular product.