With the importance and growth of the retirement marketplace, retirement financial services providers (RFSPs) have increasingly used advertising as a communication tool to reach, inform and persuade customers (Koehler and Mercer 2009).
With this backdrop, this article explores three important aspects of RFSA: (1) What kind of financial information was provided for consumers by RFSPs (i.e., the type of financial information presented); (2) how RFSPs communicated and persuaded consumers via advertising (i.e., the service quality communication dimensions used); and (3) how RFSPs used judgmental heuristic cues (i.e., rules of thumb or mental shortcuts) that could result in systematic biases and suboptimal decision making in consumers.
In addition, worried about the problems created by retirement financial services, especially among vulnerable consumers, policymakers and consumer educators often consider which ethical and legal approaches are required to redress social and economic concerns about the retirement marketplace and set boundaries for RFSPs in response (Engelhardt and Kumar 2007; Meredith and Salter 2008).
The current study also investigates whether and how RFSPs use service quality dimensions in their communication approaches in order to influence consumers' decision making.
Based on the preceding literature, our third research question investigates how RFSPs employ these five judgmental heuristic cues in advertisements.
That is, RFSPs continued to widely use transaction cost and composition of product information in ads during the period.
Meanwhile, RFSPs variably employed the financial company-focused information in ads during this period.
RQ2 calls for investigation of how RFSPs used each dimension of service quality to communicate and persuade consumers in ads published between 2006 and 2009.
The current study investigated how RFSPs attempt to inform, communicate and persuade consumers via print magazine advertising in new regulatory and economic environments.
First, this study found that since the Pension Protection Act of 2006 and the subsequent economic crisis occurred, RFSPs have increasingly included financial product-focused information, including risk-return information, transaction cost and composition of product in advertisements.