Lesssons from Aviva’s behaviour change research

We are living longer – especially women. We’re not saving enough – especially women and we’re uncertain – especially women. That’s how Lindsay Rix, MD savings and retirement at Aviva UK ended her presentation at last week’s MRS Annual Conference.

It’s a challenging environment. Insurance and pensions providers have a tough job.

Either they need to convince people to spend in order to avoid an adverse situation, paying in advance for a product they’ll only use in often dire circumstances and where each touchpoint with the provider has a good chance of being negative.

Or they have to convince people to save money now for a future that many can’t imagine or don’t want to think about.

In both cases, at best, the customer will only experience the product itself  a long way off in the future.

How is Aviva addressing this?

In a session called ‘The persuaders: behaviour change for social good’, Rix was taking the conference through the work Aviva has been doing to influence how its female customers approach saving for retirement.

They found they could significantly influence women’s intentions to save with carefully structured positive marketing messages, informed by expectancy theory.

What is expectancy theory?

The work Aviva and agency The Big Window did drew on the expectancy theory of behavioural motivation. The notion that people can be influenced to behave a certain way – like save for a pension – if the conditions are right.

In Aviva’s example, for them to express a willingness to save for their pensions, women needed to believe:

  • They would be able to save
  • That the sum they could achieve would give them the outcome they wanted, ie a funded retirement
  • And that the reward would be worth it. The funded retirement would give them the lifestyle they wanted

The messaging framework would therefore be successful provided it:

  • Demonstrated to women that ‘people like them’ can be successful at saving for a pension
  • Showed regular progress as a result of saving
  • Emphasised that those women’s pensions mattered

What can insurance and pensions providers learn from this case study? Aviva offers three valuable lessons for the industry:

One – understand your customer and what motivates them

Detailed customer segmentations that avoid the trap of stereotyping will highlight opportunities to innovate products and services. And will ensure marketing that requires customers to relate to the core influencing principle of  ‘people like you’ rings true

Two – regularly updating customers on the progress they’re making will engage and motivate, as well as offer a positive brand experience

For pensions, this could be communicating how far the saver has come and what their pension pot could achieve. In insurance, Vitality health insurance has addressed this by offering rewards for customers that lead a healthy lifestyle. Fintech and Insurtech disruptors are capitalising on this, innovating services that are aiming for frictionless, personalised and engaging customer experiences – think Monzo’s simple visual budgeting tool and instant notifications.

Three – promote a social good

Trust in financial institutions has never fully recovered from the financial crisis a decade ago. Communicating businesses genuinely have positive motives other than profit is important for customers. The success of upstart and B-corporation insurance player Lemonade is a great example of this.