Engaging individuals and kicking them into retirement-saving gear has always been a tough proposition. In today’s world, where consumer mind-sets are shifting more rapidly than ever because of the continued advances in technology, grabbing people’s attention is even harder, says Kris Gates, assistant vice president of participant and interactive marketing with MassMutual Retirement Services. It’s become clear that the standardized outreach programs of yore have little or no impact at all.
That’s why MassMutual’s Retirement Services Division decided to kick things up a few notches by leveraging the fundamentals of behavioral finance for its 2012 RetireSmart program. The national campaign simplifies retirement planning by reaching out to individuals in a targeted and focused manner, encouraging them to enroll in retirement plans, save, consolidate and allocate their retirement plan savings in personalized ways that are meaningful to them.
“Historically, the [retirement savings] industry would treat everyone in a plan the same way,” Gates says. “All the employees in a particular company would get the same campaign, but we have seen that this kind of approach isn’t relevant to everyone. If we’re going to succeed in getting more people to save, we’ve got to get down to personal needs and what matters at the individual level.”
The RetireSmart program is all about relevance, Gates says and creating relevance based on the differences between people. The population the program targets are broken up into gender groups first of all and then segmented into four different age categories, taking into account that different groups think and act in different ways.
“A decade ago, we’d go out and dump the same postcard on 300,000 people, and that would have no effect at all,” Gates says. “Today, I have 32 messages and each one creates a great deal more relevance.”
A message that goes to a 20-year-old, for example, would be quite different from one going out to a 40-year-old. Women and men of different age groups behave in totally different ways, Gates says, and one person’s sense of humor may not be another’s, so messages are constructed very carefully and individually. The program also takes into account ethnic backgrounds and how they can impact investment behavior.