Why Pensions Marketing is Rubbish – And How to Make it Better

Have you resisted investing in a pension? I have. OK, I’m not particularly risk averse – I can’t help feeling I’ll cope just fine without a private pension, like millions of people already do. But it’s the way pensions are marketed that really puts me off. Here’s why, plus some ideas about how to do it better.   

Marketing pensions – Why the financial services sector has got it all wrong

Pensions. They’re hardly the most popular buy in the world, and no wonder. The arguments presented by advertisers miss the mark by miles.

Whats in a name?

It all starts with the name, and it’s toxic. A ‘pension’ is a boring, expensive thing, something we feel we should have but resent buying. After all, if we die before we retire, all that saving is a total waste of money. If it was my job to stir the sector up, the first thing I’d do is change the name. Forget pension and its negative connotations. Call it a ‘Fun Fund’ instead, just for argument’s sake – something that lets people carry on doing the things they love after retirement.

Pensions marketing imagery appeals to the wrong audience

Then there’s the imagery. Those cheesy photos of immaculate-looking white haired couples toasting each other against exotic  backdrops, or mucking about on golf courses and boats, don’t fool anyone. Ageing is not aspirational. Nobody actually looks forward to being old. A lot of people dread it, and the last thing they need is to be reminded about it.
But it’s the target audience side of things that really baffles me. Surely any marketer worth their salt would take a long, hard look at their audience before coming up with a targeted proposition? In the case of pensions, the target audience isn’t retired people. It’s young people, and you don’t persuade them to make buying decisions using imagery of old folk. To many younger people, pensioners might as well be aliens – they’re so utterly different, so totally foreign, so ‘other’.
The people who should be investing in pensions do not embrace the current marketing messages they’re being fed, nor should we expect them to. What’s the solution? It’s simple, isn’t it? Why not use imagery of young people having a wonderful time? Then you’d appeal directly to them, making it clear they can keep the good times going ad infinitum thanks to their Fun Fund. Your copy would reflect the same powerful message.
Does that make sense or have I gone mad? Comments are welcome, especially from people who work in the financial services sector!

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