The Effectiveness of Interactivity in Pension Planners

New communication tools need to tackle the challenge of increasing pension awareness. Yet, not all communication recipients respond in a similar manner to such initiatives and it is important to tease out these differences in order to mass customize pension communication.

Project Title

Are interactive pension planners a solution for everyone?

Summary

In light of increasing life expectancies as well as a rising dependency ratio the importance of retirement planning comes more and more to the fore. Yet, many people are not sufficiently capable or willing to take on this responsibility due to a lack of awareness, interest or knowledge. New communication tools, tackling the aforementioned challenges, emerged that increasingly concentrate on sharing information online in order to communicate faster and in a more convenient manner. In previous literature online interactivity has been proposed as a promising tool to foster involvement and behavioural intentions. This project tested whether interactivity in a pension planner is an efficient solution for retirement planning by investigating the effect of three pension planners with varying interactivity levels on behavioural intentions, number of clicked options within the planner, subjective knowledge, attitude and user experience. Moreover, involvement was hypothesized to mediate some of the relationships (Figure 1).

Figure 1

Conceptual Framework

Method

The data for this study was collected with the help of a non-probabilistic online panel in the Netherlands. The final data set encompassed 285 respondents. The three versions of the pension planner were developed together with Actuit, a Dutch company specialized in pension communication and pension planners. An example of a planner is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2

Planner Example

Results

According to the results, participants noticed higher levels of interactivity in a pension planner, yet they did not make use of these features to their full extent. This result is manifested in the fact that participants in the highly interactive condition did not click on significantly more options than participants in the moderately interactive condition. Regarding involvement, some interesting results were established. Involvement was found to consist of two types of involvement, cognitive and affective involvement. The three versions of the pension planner were not able to elicit either type of involvement, but if involvement was present it was able to influence some of the outcome variables: cognitive involvement had a significant impact on behavioral intentions and affective involvement significantly impacted attitude and also behavioral intentions and subjective knowledge at a lower significance level. Another interesting result emerged when splitting the data set according to gender. Whereas male participants seem to prefer high levels of interactivity, manifested in increasing user experience values with increasing levels of interactivity, the opposite holds for females. Furthermore, high interactivity levels are beneficial in order to increase behavioral intentions for male participants, but for female participants high interactivity levels are counterproductive. Moderate levels of interactivity seem to be a more promising solution for females in this regard.

Implications

First, the findings of this study indicate that there exists heterogeneity among the recipients of pension communication initiatives, i.e. men and women respond differently to interactivity in a pension planner. These results suggest tailoring pension communication according to the specific preferences of the users, by for example integrating less interactive features for women than for men in a pension planner. Second, due to the fact that neither cognitive nor affective involvement had a negative impact on any of the outcome variables, pension communication should ideally aim at increasing both forms of involvement. Cognitive involvement can be induced by integrating relevant, interesting and valuable information in the pension planner, which should be accomplished with a pension planner that contains the personal pension information. Hedonic features such as animation, sound and colors might be integrated in an online pension planner to elicit affective involvement.

Lead researchers Lisa Br├╝ggen, Katharina Schmitz (all Maastricht University)

Project partners Maastricht University, ActuIt

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