NETHERLANDS - Pension funds need to transform the way they communicate with their members by appealing to the social DNA of today's fifty-somethings and the ever-expanding computer game generation who demand interactivity, according to an academic.

This is the plea of Dutch academic trend-watcher Carl Rohde, a former cultural sociological researcher at the University of Utrecht, who has found in his research that pension funds' ignorance of social-cultural ‘climate changes' is alienating members, and affecting funds' future competitiveness.

Rohde, said during a presentation at the Pensioen Forum 2008 in Rotterdam last week funds need to appeal to the demand for so-called interactive 'kicks' - an apparent need from consumers for interaction when information is being communicated - as well as repair the lack of trust the current 50+ baby boomer generation has in pensions.

"Pension funds need to start thinking very hard about how people want to have their interactive kicks and how they can draw them to their product," he said, urging pension funds to "repair the immensely large trust crisis among the 50+ generation with as clear as possible transparency."

According to Rohde, pension funds need to offer more involvement to the computer game generation, which is of all ages and getting older "by five minutes each day".

Funds should start using the power of blogging, via which 'interactive kicks' could be adapted, to broaden its business opportunities, he suggested.

Blogging is the first phenomenon to have de-centralised corporate communication, according to Rohde: "Every organisation that still thinks it can come out with press releases smoothed over by their PR people think in terms of an older generation - such a sleek press release will directly be linked to the relevant websites which are often perceived as more credible," he said.

Pension funds are among the last organisations yet to understood the concept of a network of producers and customers who jointly create value, he claimed.

At the same time, Rohde said funds should try to appeal to the 50-something ‘soft spots' of feeling good and healthy.

"This market had a very broad definition of feeling well and healthy, you need to do something with this," he concluded.

If you have any comments you would like to add to this or any other story, contact Carolyn Bandel on +44 (0)20 7261 4622 or email