It’s well known that pets can help people lower their blood pressure, reduce anxiety and even improve their social lives. Now, there’s evidence that pets can help people in a new way: saving for retirement.
Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. (MassMutual) is encouraging retirement plan savers to increase their contributions to their employer’s 401(k) or other retirement plan through a direct marketing campaign promoting the popularity of pets. New retirement plan deposits attributed to the email and direct mail campaign, which started in March and ran through May, are projected to generate $43 million in additional deposits in 2016. The campaign enjoyed the highest response rate ever for those making additional savings.
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“With three out of five Americans owning pets, there is no doubt that we are a nation that loves animals of every shape, size and variety,” says MassMutual Vice President of Marketing Kris Rice. “By connecting to something that is top of mind for consumers, our campaign is encouraging retirement plan participants to boost their savings.”
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Something else to chew on: The American Pet Products Association reports that Americans spent more than $60 billion on pets in 2015. It’s an important consideration given that Americans are $7.7 trillion short of saving what they need to retire comfortably, according to the Retirement Research Center.
With both those figures in mind, MassMutual’s pet campaign promotes the need for retirement savings by directing savers to RetireSmartPets.com. Visitors to the site are invited to post and share photos of their furry friends on social media, and, more importantly, are encouraged to increase their retirement plan contributions.
More than 1,700 photos of dogs, cats, rabbits, mice and horses in a wide range of poses and even some in costumes have been uploaded and shared on social media. The photos also include pets of the non-furry variety, including a humming bird, chickens, parrots, turtles, a lizard and pet rocks.
The owner of the pet who receives the most votes at the end of the year wins an iPad. The most popular pet to date is a chocolate Labrador Retriever puppy resembling a stuffed toy and who has attracted more than 8,300 votes and counting.