Tailoring in pension communication is still in its infancy

Tailoring in pension communication may help to increase the motivation of pension participants to delve into their pension situation and to improve finding and comprehending pension information. This is a general view in the pension domain, although in daily practice few examples of tailoring pension information can be found. There are some experimental innovations, but there is a lack of systematic evaluation. Tailoring is regarded as expensive and complex, while legal issues inhibit innovation.

This is the main result of 21 interviews with pension organizations on tailoring in pension communication. In the academic literature, a distinction is made between four types of tailoring: (1) segmentation of target groups, with different participants in a pension scheme receiving different content, for example on the basis of age, gender or life event; (2) personalization of documents, specifying the name of the recipient and, sometimes, his or her financial details; (3) tailoring, when the content of the communication has been adapted on the basis of knowledge of the behavior, preferences or specific characteristics of the participants; (4) personal interaction with participants. This last form is seen as the ultimate form of customization.

Only a few studies help to understand the effectiveness of tailoring pension communication, while in the medical domain, a lot of research has been done on this topic. Some meta-studies draw positive conclusions about its effectiveness. Tailoring can be based on characteristics of participants (age, gender, literacy, training), behavior of participants (login data, use of pension tools, web page visits), and preferences (such as the desire to have the details of a regulation). The respondents in the interviews did not report any experience with tailoring on participant characteristics, such as financial literacy, future orientation or need for cognition. Tailoring based on digital data does not seem to be common in the pension domain.

In the near future, pension organizations will be faced with different legal and technological opportunities and challenges. In particular, digitization and changing media use offer opportunities for tailoring. However, the new privacy Law (AVG), the European regulations for the annual pension benefit statement (EIOPA) and the elaboration of the pension agreement (2019) offer challenges to deal with. For many organizations the changing legislation has a higher priority than innovation of tailoring in pension communication.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.


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