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Paul Newman, Millennials and the CU Passage to Lending in the Future

newman's own salad dressing bottle
By Steve Hewins

3 minutes

What credit unions can learn from a salad dressing brand

Have you ever tried Newman’s Own salad dressing? Most of us have at one point or another and, if you haven’t, chances are you’ve heard of it. It’s owned and operated under the Newman’s Own brand—a brand that gives 100% of its profits to charity. Since its conception in 1982, the organization has donated more than $525 million to charity. What a fine example of a company that believes in people helping people!

Companies like Newman’s Own are typically what millennials flock to based on their philanthropic efforts. However, millennials could actually be fading the Newman’s Own brand out. Sure, this company has droves of loyal fans out there, but with more than 80 million millennials in the consumer space, every brand needs buy-in from that group to survive.

What’s the hang up? What is keeping millennials from relating to Newman’s Own and jumping on board to support this grand philanthropic effort? 

The answer lies with what made the brand popular in the first place: Paul Newman, himself. Yes, Paul Newman, whom most of us know as the beloved actor who starred in dozens of film classics including Cool Hand Luke, The Sting, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and who launched the brand and continues to be the brand’s image. 

How can he be holding the brand back today? Well, to understand that, you need to consider the relevance of the branding.

What relevance does a celebrity like Paul Newman have to a millennial? A number of millennials haven’t seen many of his movies. They don’t follow his page on Twitter or Instagram and many might not even know who Paul Newman is. Slowly, through no fault of its own, the brand is becoming irrelevant to the latest generation of buyers.

Credit unions should consider studying this eye-opening scenario. CUs offer a similar focus of helping grow the community by putting the benefit of the brand back into the pockets of the members. Yet the millennial generation may not be busting down your door to start a relationship with the credit union. So you have to ask yourself: “How relevant is my credit union?”

The millennial generation has pushed us all to consider new ways to engage and inspire growth by asking ourselves how relevant we are to the current homebuyer. Of course, a home loan will always be a necessary commodity, but to thrive in today’s competitive lending marketplace you must also remain relevant. In today’s world of lending, or for any financial service, this means being able to offer your goods and services where consumers are spending the majority of their time—the digital space. 

The millennial cohort is the first generation to have only known a digital workplace. According to Accenture Consulting research, 87% of consumers begin the home-buying experience online. For credit unions to remain relevant, you need to have an online presence that reaches further than simply having email and a website. The ability to offer a truly digital lending origination experience for the member is paramount.

Gone are the days of paper 1003’s and faxing in multiple documents over and over again. Today, the slickest applications have a streamlined, dynamic experience that allows members to connect to other platforms to pull-in and verify their information, upload documents directly from their phone and provides task lists and status prompts 24/7. The mortgage process has been turbo-charged and, to be relevant, you’ve got to get in the fast lane. 

If you don’t yet have a digital solution for your lending program, the time is now. Whether it’s implementing digital tools yourself or partnering with a company that can assist you in your digital efforts, it’s a requirement to be relevant in today’s mortgage marketplace and beyond. And most of all, millennials expect that kind of digital experience. Don’t allow your brand to fall out of the spotlight.

Steve Hewins is SVP/CU members at CUESolutions bronze provider CU Members Mortgage, Dallas.

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