Capital Group survey highlights need for customized messages to engage disparate audiences
LOS ANGELES, November 16, 2022 — While there is no one way to effectively speak to the broad American population about retirement, the language used in retirement communications is important – and is often a more dependable way to communicate than imagery – according to new research by Capital Group, home of American Funds, and one of the world’s leading investment management firms.
“This research makes clear that both the language and imagery we use in retirement communications do matter in making an impact on people and inspiring them to take action,” said Toni Brown, head of Retirement Strategy at Capital Group. “As an industry, we need to understand how both are working together, and connecting emotionally across audiences, so that we can better educate, guide and support Americans on their journey to retirement.”
The study of 2,451 American adults included an audit of 590 images and 691 written messages from 33 companies across multiple platforms, including financial firms’ websites, social media, blogs, and marketing content. The findings underscore that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to retirement communications. People carry a strong sense of individuality and are attracted to messaging that recognizes and addresses their specific needs. The audience’s age, for example, strongly influences preferences for both written messages and imagery:
“The research revealed that people can have messy, mixed and deeply personal emotions about retirement,” said Brown. “At the same time, investors seem to want to know the pathway to retirement is doable, worth it, and in their control. When it comes to language, straight-forward, factual statements about successful outcomes resonate most.”
With imagery, the study found those showing people being supportive and images of planning to be the most appealing, 50% and 47% respectively. The least preferred images fell into the prevention category, for example, where older individuals were portrayed receiving health care.
The research revealed how difficult it is for an image to elicit a uniform reaction, with a wide range of responses to each image. What’s more, respondents were not especially quick in their reactions, compared to language. Many had to stop and think longer. Similar surveys taken in other industries, for example to gauge consumer product preference, often generate rapid, confident reactions. Slower reaction times may underscore the discomfort or uncertainty many people feel about retirement and/or investing.
Overall, survey participants reported they want to see more of the following in retirement communications:
Capital Group partnered with market research firm Escalent in Q4 2021 to survey and interview 2,451 American adults with various employment situations, including both advised vs. self-directed investors and a mix of age, gender, and race/ethnicity. All qualified as investors by having at least one account, such as an IRA, employer sponsored retirement account, brokerage account, or digital investment account. The study included an audit of hundreds of written messages and images that comprise the current retirement landscape - drawn from financial firms’ websites, social media and marketing content - followed by an analysis of participants’ feelings and reactions to those communications.
For additional information and the full report, click here.
About Capital Group
As of September 30, 2022, Capital Group manages approximately $2.1 trillion in equity and fixed income assets for millions of individuals and institutional investors around the world. Capital Group manages equity assets through three investment groups. These groups make investment and proxy voting decisions independently. Fixed income investment professionals provide fixed income research and investment management across the Capital organization; however, for securities with equity characteristics, they act solely on behalf of one of the three equity investment groups. For more information, visit capitalgroup.com.
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