Life Ticker

By Stephanie Morrow
Agency: Corporate Initatives
Client: Vanguard
Category: 2013


SUMMARY How do you bring instant gratification to retirement? That was the question Vanguard set out to answer in the face of a retirement industry dominated by \"some day\" brands. Brands that asked impatient investors to hold out for a distant \"some day\" to see any emotional return on the trillions of dollars they had invested collectively toward retirement. As a company built to take a stand for investors. and the only company in the category to take zero profit on its Investors' money. it was time for Vanguard to take a stand again. We made it our mission to give investors an emotional reward on their investments immediately. To time-shift the emotional rewards of future financial success to today when everybody else was telling them to wait. This case tells the story of how planning and creative boldly helped Vanguard take a stand for investors again and bring instant gratification 10 retimment. The Vanguard way.

THE INVESTING LANDSCAPE Instant gratification is the unspoken impulse driving 21st Century Americans. They get impatient if a website takes more than two seconds to load and abandon the pursuit altogether after three.' This same impatience makes them singularly skilled at avoiding long·term planning in favor of immediate rewards. That's why more Americans eat fast food weekly than have saved $25k for retirement.' And yet for years, the retirement industry has built itself up on asking Americans to delay their gratification. Investment companies desperately rely on the public buying into an approach that takes years to yield an emotional return on the S18.1 trillion they have collectively invested toward retirement.

But Vanguard is different.

THE PROBLEM Vanguard was built to take a stand for investors and return every possible dollar back to them. That's why it is wholly owned by its clients and has no outside shareholders. That's why it takes lero profit on the money its clients invest. That's why it doesn't ask clients to wait when they need gratification now. Although Vanguard is fundamentally different from its competition, the competition's massive marketing budgets and false claims of customer centricity made it hard for prospective investors to tell Vanguard apart from its rivals.' That's why we needed to get people's attention right away.

OUR CHALLENGE We needed to show people that Vanguard's approach to investing was worthy of their attention today.

THE INSIGHT Our first step was to look at how our competitors talked to investors. We were shocked by what we saw.

OUR BIG INSIGHT In direct opposition to the instant gratification clients demanded. Vanguard's competitors were asking investors to hold out for a reward that would come \"some day\" in the distant future.

A NEW INVESTOR PERSPECTIVE Determined to get to the bottom of how investors were really feeling, we assembled an Insight panel' lt consisted of 128 people, males and females, both Vanguard and non-Vanguard investors thaI fit our demographic of 35·66-year old investors. We asked them questions like, \"What word or picture would you use to describe the retirement you want to have?\" We saw something inspiring in their answers: The insight panel saw retirement as a misnomer.

Our research showed: Investors embraced retirement as a period of \"doing\" and pursuing their passions rather than a passive stage of \"retirement.\" One of our respondents said, \"I believe in 'financial retirement. I don't, necessarily believe in physical retirement.\" Another remarked that he his retirement as, \"[an opportunity] to enjoy the time to the max on the things you always wanted to do.\"

It became clear that investors saw retirement as a t ime to actively pursue the things they really loved. The things they were really investing for.