Today, many associations struggle to attract and retain younger members, commonly referred to as Millennials. They face strong headwinds as people under 35-years-old question the value and relevancy of association membership. Corporate support for dues and convention expenses continues to shrink as part of cost-reduction efforts. In particular, younger members on entry-level salaries face significant student debt, housing and transportation costs that limit their discretionary spending.
Associations must innovate their membership value proposition and communication methods or face declining membership and dues revenue growth. For example, they must develop membership benefits that are relevant and affordable for younger members who communicate primarily on mobile devices. They should also closely examine the potential of online benefits payment processing through Apple Pay, Google Pay and other third-party providers.
What are the problems? First, associations face increased competition from direct-to-consumer online providers who don’t require association membership. Second, associations continue to offer the same benefits through the same marketing channels and think that by changing their messages they will encourage younger members to participate. Associations would be better served by identifying the needs and desires of younger members and then building a benefits program that improves members’ personal and professional lives. Young professionals are savvy about marketing and prefer education and advice that will help them make informed choices. Remember, this generation can see right through messaging that isn’t authentic.
Associations would be wise to focus on building a young professional strategy that better explains the professional, educational and financial benefits of being a member. In my view, associations should consider segmenting their member benefits program into one geared for members age 35 and under, and another for ages 35 and up. Structured correctly, participation in the under-35 program will grow and thereby strengthen the long-term viability of the overall insurance member benefit program.
If you have questions about your insurance member benefits program we are here to help.
Dennis P. Mulligan
Director of Business Development