Traditional methods of financial education teach children to save for college, a home, and retirement. It’s a message that feels outdated for young people who see their peers achieve instant fame and fortune on TikTok and Instagram.
So Community Credit Union Florida turned to a new group of experts to help it reach out to potential members of Gen Z: influencers.
The $1.02 billion-asset credit union, which was established under a state charter by a group of 10 teachers in 1953, started an educational program called 321 Financial take-off featuring speakers such as the TikToker and Instagram influencer Emilie Zeckwhich tells how she turned her social media persona, That Pineapple Girl, into a branded swimwear line.
It also features J.T. Hassellan NFL free agent who played for the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets, and Alyssa Carsonwho at the age of 17 obtained a certification in applied astronautics which will allow him to carry out research missions in suborbital space.
“Teens need to know there are options,” said Laurie Cappelli, president and CEO of the credit union. “They need to know that you don’t have to have a college degree to be successful.”
Program 321’s name comes from the Space Coast area code — it’s home to the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station — and is a nod to the launch of student financial travel.
The 51,000-member credit union, based in Titusville, Fla., serves Brevard County high school juniors and seniors with 321. In recent years, CCU Florida has offered financial education programs such that the Money Masters Youth Savings Account to encourage elementary school students to start saving, and partnered with the local Junior Achievement chapter to teach budgeting, understanding college expenses and how to complete financial aid applications.
Tracy Almeda-Singian, who was vice president of marketing at CCU Florida and is now global head of talent acquisition at Citi, spearheaded the initiative, which features young local influencers talking about their own financial struggles. and lessons learned.
Two local entrepreneurs also appear on the panel to give advice on how to run a small business. Branden Sewell is the owner of Seal Pro Painting and his five-year-old business will reach seven figures in sales this year. Tinasha Dorsey worked in human resources before opening her own nail salon in 2019.
In the United States, the population of Generation Z is estimated at 68 million and represents $140 billion in purchasing power. But reaching this all-digital native population that grew up on smartphones and social media requires a different approach.
“This generation is less geared towards mass media,” said Steve Reider, president of Bancography, a financial services consulting firm. “You have to use underground marketing tactics to reach those consumers.”
CCU Florida’s move to recruit influencers to connect with Gen Z consumers is a smart move, Reider said.
According to Kantar, a data analytics and brand consulting firm, 44% of all Gen Z consumers have made a buying decision based on influencer recommendationcompared to 26% of the general population.
“It resonates with them to have trusted voices explaining that it’s complicated, and it’s OK not to understand,” Reider said. And, he adds, since the role of advertising is to “place you in a set of choices,” the 321 series sends the message to Gen Zers that “maybe you don’t have one. need today, but when you need it, we’re here to help.
The 321 events are largely unstructured. Influencers introduce themselves, talk about their journey and life experiences, and ask questions on the pitch. “It’s a discussion without limits. Influencers are very open and honest about their pain points,” Cappelli said.
Students who attend sessions receive a $100 referral coupon, parent information package, CCU t-shirt, and Moon-Man sticker. They can also open a checking account and receive a $100 sign-up bonus.
There has been an increase in the number of new accounts opened by students, but the credit union hasn’t compiled any data yet since it only held the inaugural 321 event in March, Cappelli said. But there are three more planned for this year, and Cappelli said the program will continue for the foreseeable future.
“It’s such a sharing and amazing environment,” she said. “Students are much more engaged and open to talking about finances if a peer talks to them rather than a parent.”