Warning: Smoking can kill you
The most common examples of trying to change society’s
With cigarettes, the shock tactics have included adverts and pictures on packets depicting some of the terrible health effects of smoking.
It’s difficult to pin down the exact impact of these tactics because things such as education and banning sponsorship advertising have played a part too, but smoking has continued to decline in the UK and is now at an all-time low. And there is no question that the blunt, scary and at times graphic warnings on cigarette packets have had an important role to play.
Lessons for the pensions industry:
One of the reasons that the campaign against cigarettes has had such an impact is its relentlessness. Messages against smoking are everywhere – they are impossible to escape. One-off or very occasional pensions campaigns are not enough. The messages we send need to be regular and constant to have the desired impact.
Be graphic about what happens if people don’t change;
Do we do a good enough job making people
visualisewhat their life will be like if they don’t save enough for their retirement– so they don’t just understand intellectually that they will be caught short, but viscerally feel what it might be like to live in significantly reduced circumstances? A hard-hitting campaign showing the discrepancy in future lifestyles between someone who made adequate retirement provision and someone who didn’t might be one marketing option.
Get the timing right
Warnings on cigarette packs are effective because consumers see them at the exact right moment – the moment when they face a decision, “should I buy another pack or not?” People likewise should receive pensions and workplace savings information at a time when they can act on it, for example during a promotion or salary rise, to make it easy for them to act.
If we’re going to change people’s workplace savings
So while, for
Instead of creating a campaign featuring professional athletes or models, they devised a campaign called #ThisGirlCan, showing real women exercising and sweating, running slowly with imperfect bodies.
The focus on “normal” people paid off. About 2.8 million women took action during the first year of the campaign because they could relate to the women on screen and believed that they, too, could start exercising. The number of women playing sports is now increasing faster than men.
But there was another factor in the campaign’s success as well.
The campaign decided to tackle those fears head-on, and show that:
"Women come in all shapes and sizes and all levels of ability. It doesn’t matter if you’re a bit rubbish or an expert. The point is you’re a woman and you’re doing something."
By showing that many women share the same fears – and choose to exercise regardless – they
Lessons for the pensions industry:
Make bigger contributions achievable;
Many people believe that they can’t possibly save more, at their current level of earnings – they are too squeezed. Show them how others have done it.
Understand people’s deep motivations
The sports campaign worked because Sports England did intense market research in order to understand what was stopping women exercising. The insights they gained
as a resultshaped a powerful campaign because they got to the heart of the issue for many women.
In pensions, we too need to make a bigger effort to understand and talk about the real issues stopping people from saving more. Nothing is more emotive than money; there are always deep issues involved. And yet too often we talk about pensions on a surface level.
Your company may not be able to conduct extensive market research, but ask your staff for honest feedback on why they have not increased their pension contributions. Their answers may well surprise.
Important points to consider
The campaigns mentioned here – smoking and sport – might seem a world away from pensions, but there are lessons that can be carried over.
All these examples have involved changing social norms – not simply changing how we think but also changing how we behave.
It’s about getting inside people’s heads, understanding why they do what they do and thinking about what might make them act differently.
Until we make society want something, it’s a struggle to achieve change. But, as these examples show, it can be done, and there’s no reason why this lesson can’t be applied to the world of retirement saving.
Topics: Workplace Savings