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Gen Z is a Throwback When It Comes to In-Person Banking

Image Credit: Capital One

It’s almost comical to consider that as recently as 30 years ago, if you wanted to get your hands on your money, you had to physically walk into a bank and ask for it. And usually from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. And never on Sundays or holidays.

Of course, technology has made the age-old trip to the bank anachronistic. Need to make a withdrawal? From ATM cards to mobile payments, it’s not really necessary to walk into your local bank. Deposit? You can just drop it in the slot at your bank’s ATM or even deposit via a mobile app. And almost every other banking transaction imaginable can be done online.

As a result of the above, 45% of U.S. adults say they “rarely or never” walk into a retail bank location, while only a quarter of Americans make at least a few in-person trips a month. 

So who is using this seemingly old-fashioned method to conduct their financial business?

The answer is shocking: Generation Z. In fact, among people who visit a bank at least a few times a year, Generation Z conducts their banking needs in-person a few times a week or more at an astonishingly higher clip, more than Millennials and four times the rate of those older than 55. 

What are the reasons Generation Z is more apt to be daily or weekly users of their bank location? Part of it may come down to the lack of zeroes they have in their bank account. 

When asked how they feel about their finances right now, Generation Z “leads” the way, with 28% of that population feeling “bad” about the state of their financial life. The numbers get progressively better through ascending generations.

And among people who bank at least a few times a year, those who feel “bad” about their finances are more than twice as likely to visit their bank several times a week or more than people who feel “good” about their finances. And people who feel just okay about where they are financially are more than three times less likely than people who feel “bad” about their current money state to be at their bank a few times a week or more.

Another reason Generation Z may be more prone to in-person banking: free snacks.

Only 21% of U.S. adults who visit their bank say they are offered something – from lollipops on up – when they walk into their branch.

But digging into the numbers, a trend emerges.

First up, among in-person bank customers, people who go at least a few times a week report they are offered a treat at a 44% higher rate than people who bank a few times a month, and at nearly twice the rate than people who bank a few times a year.

And Generation Z reports getting a little something extra on their trips to the bank at a significantly higher rate than all other age cohorts. 

Interestingly, among people who bank at least a few times a year, 39% of Generation Z says it’s at least a little bit important their bank hands out free goodies when they show up to make a deposit or withdrawal. This is more than double the rate of Millennials and Generation X, and nearly eight times the rate of Baby Boomers and older. 

But it’s not just free food: It’s any food. 

When asked how much they liked the concept of bank cafes and the like, Generation Z really likes the idea. A lot.

This CivicScience study also looked at the idea of community when it comes to in-person banking. Again, among people who bank at least a few times a year, people who used banks a few times a week or more were much more apt to say they felt part of a community when walking into their local branch.

And while Baby Boomers and older reported feeling part of a community “a lot” when they walked into their bank at the highest rates, Generation Z was the second highest in that category.

But taking into account all the charts above, the one below may be the most important: Once a bank gains a customer, chances are that customer is sticking around. Over the last 90 days, nearly 9 in 10 Americans report they plan on sticking with their banking institution.

But that number drops dramatically among – you guessed it – Generation Z, as 19% of that generation are ready to jump banks.

Overall, there’s certainly some major differences between people who use a bank at least a few times a week and those who don’t. 

But clearly, the main takeaways are that Generation Z respondents are using physical banking locations at a higher rate than other generations and are more apt to switch banking institutions. And taking into account free food and community, perhaps a free cup of coffee and the opportunity to buy a croissant – assuming all else is equal – might be all it would take for a bank to gain a young customer for life.

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