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Does “Green” Have A Place in Your Product Mix?

Recently, Denise Wymore blogged about Modern Marketing vs. Old Marketing and a spirited discussion ensued about the effectiveness of direct mail. That conversation prompted me to consider how it looks when a credit union wants its members to forgo paper statements, while the credit union peppers its members with direct mail!

My thought at the time was that these messages are in conflict with one another (from the member standpoint), and it bucked the “green” trend that is becoming more common in American households.

So is green the new color of success for credit unions? Old Hickory Credit Union in Tennessee thinks so. Old Hickory created a Green Checking Account a while back and has been the subject of past posts on other blogs. To Old Hickory’s bundle of services and benefits offered by the Green Checking Account (summarized in the link), I would consider adding the following features …

1. Deposit rate premiums and/or loan discounts (more on this below) – saving paper saves the credit union money. Why not pass these cost savings on to members?

2. Automatically opting members in to electronic newsletters — and opting them out of snail mail campaigns. Give members the ability to identify products or services they are interested in hearing more about in these electronic publications.

3. Design other products that reinforce the green concept. Perhaps a Green Auto Loan could have a rate premium relative to other products. I’ve seen green loan programs for mainly hybrid vehicles … but what about offering rate premiums on conventional automobiles if the new vehicle purchase increases fuel economy over the trade-in by 20%?

Other loan products could be designed that help members conserve energy and go to a more sustainable way of life (anything from replacement windows to landscaping).

These thoughts hinge on the belief that green is not a fad but is here to stay. What do you think? Is the move to promote a more environmentally friendly way of life a trend that some credit unions could capitalize on with a formal product line? If so, what products and services would you suggest credit unions offer? And finally, are other credit unions offering green incentives to members?