New Ways to Save: Putting Social Marketing into the equation

pensionsSocial Marketing can deliver sustained behaviour change. At the moment, most of this power seems to be focused on interventions in the health sector. And although there are increasing practitioner examples of how social marketing can be used in other areas, academic publications in these areas are rare (see this article). One of these areas is the pension sector: The UK, like many other nations, has in recent decades moved away from a fully state supported pension and financial benefits system towards private sector solutions. Yet, despite the dangers of insufficient financial planning, more than half of the UK population has insufficient funds. In fact, official government figures show that the average contribution made to the pension system is £30,000. Yet, on average each adult would need more than double that, i.e. £80,000 in order to have a suitable pension.
Unfortunately though, the government and quangos still rely on simplistic information provision models, i.e. assuming that if people are told that something is bad, they will do something about it (which really is like telling a smoker it is bad for them – they know. But they don’t necessarily stop because the government told them so). Thus, the Financial Standards Authority is spending £10 million annually to educate the public on the dangers of not saving. Doing a literature review in relation to savings and pensions, I quickly realised there is little academic research available to address this issue as well: and the only few pieces of research carrying the “Social Marketing” name are not about deriving a theory based intervention and implementing the lessons learned from complex behaviour changes in other areas, but they rather tend to explain what information consumers want – and then suggesting not much more than just an information/education campaign. Theory driven interventions, using behavioural models and change theories are virtually non existent in this increasingly important area. With all the parties and the government becoming increasingly concerned about the potential pension time bomb, maybe this might be the next big thing for Social Marketing?
P.S. I’ll put highlights from the review online soon. If you’d like a copy, please send me an email.

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