APG, provider of the €334bn Dutch civil service scheme ABP, has categorised its participants’ personalities in a bid to fine-tune its communications.

In cooperation with market research bureau Motivaction, APG has designed a classification system for five pension personalities – including ‘disappointed dutifuls’, ‘happy-go-lucky developers’ and ‘rational entrepreneurs’ – with individual standards, interests and attitudes towards the pensions system and the notion of solidarity, as well as their level of knowledge.

Strategic marketing manager Sylvia Hendriks said the aim was to tailor APG’s approach to each group.

“We don’t want to push people into boxes – we want to use the insights about these personalities to increase the impact of communication,” she said.

“This way, we take the motivation and needs of participants into account.”

The personalities are based on five patterns found with respect to eight value sets. 

‘Passive enjoyers’, for example, are very focused on their direct environment and are largely indifferent to the concept of solidarity.

In their opinion, pensions are abstract – they do not think about them – and they feel they must pay much now for probably very little later.

They think in terms of “we are entitled to a proper pension”, but usually ignore information from their pension fund.

For this group, according to ABP, pensions information must be personalised, providing steps for concrete action and ramping up the sense of urgency.

Communications should not include extensive explanations of figures, too many options or references to legislation or politics.

The other personality groups include the ‘realistic and ambitious’, ‘disappointed dutifuls’, ‘happy-go-lucky developers’ and ‘rational entrepreneurs’.

APG will look into how insights gained from behaviour, demographics and pension personalities can be combined, and where pension funds can apply them most effectively.

Joyce Vonken of APG’s market intelligence unit said: “After having read the profile [of a given participant], it will be easier to recognise the personality during a phone call.

“The same often applies to letters. One person needs a short and simple answer, the other wants to be provided with exact data and additional sources of information.”

Vonken added: “When we write a newsletter that extensively addresses a pension fund’s investment policy, we can take into account which personality is interested in the subject through the tone of voice.”

But the aim is not to test all participants for their personality, according to Hendriks.

“Looking at their behaviour helps us to improve recognising our customers,” she said.

“This way, personality can contribute to relevant and personal communication, in addition to segmentation for behaviour and age.”

At the moment, people of different ages and genders already receive different communication.

“The communication must be interesting,” Hendriks said.

”If you sent everybody the same message, it is likely that people, after having found a couple of times that a pension fund’s mail is not relevant, will start throwing away everything.

”Therefore, our clients no longer want uniform mass communication, but target-specific messages.”