Millennials: Is Finance ready to talk to the next big spenders?

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These days, kids have cash and know what to do with it. The new youth economy is one of astounding scale and extravagance. Mass fads, big brands and a lower-profile commercial style are on the up. Confidence with technology is high and youth could be a great test market for finance and interactive CRM - the use of messaging from provider to consumer via mobiles.

The average monthly income of 7-14 year olds is nearly £40. Pocket money is supplemented by paid work. 39% of 13 to 19 year olds have regular part time jobs. Trevor, 17, from Woking does milk rounds. "I get paid monthly...between £160 and £180. My Mum (also) gives me a tenner a week".

Millennials are not only earning more, they also spend more - around £20 billion per annum on the high street. They are among the most likely groups to pay on the internet. 75% of 13-16 year olds have access to the net and 20.5% have a PC in their bedrooms. Already 12% have made purchases online and the constraints of online shopping are being eroded by new payment options.

As more teen payment methods become available, financial service providers could help young consumers learn money-management skills. Over half claim they like to enjoy their lives rather than worry about the future. 43% of 13-16 years olds believe their savings accounts should be easier to access and not just for withdrawals.

But getting teens interested in finance is difficult. Finance falls far behind socialising, entertainment and personal well-being. It is a function of the freedom they crave, not an end in itself. Old youth angst is giving way to a new confidence about the future. Part of that is the aspiration to be adult. With the return of glam-fashion, kids are "up-ageing".

Mobile phones are a function of that. They a 'must' item for today's teens, over 65% of 11-16 year olds having a mobile, mostly to reinforce contact with their inner circle of friends. Jenny, 17, sends "11 text messages a day" and is aware of the costs. "If you text someone they text back...You keep texting. It is quite expensive. I have spent about £500 on this mobile".

Mobiles are a good relationship-building channel. 79% of teenagers have a bank or building society account and would like to have more control over it. Text message updates on transactions - when has pocket money been credited - could be popular. This type of interaction is a logical progression for CRM; updating customers with timely and relevant information.

A more direct approach would be to use advertisements in exchange for free minutes. But be aware of the pitfalls. Recognise the interest limitations of finance and short teen attention spans and seek parental consent. While Millennials offer opportunities for finance providers to use interactive CRM, this generation needs to have a better experience of outbound messaging than previous generations have had with outbound calling and direct mail.

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