Can pets help boost retirement savings?

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Millennials and baby boomers have something in common: a love for posting photos of their pets.

Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co capitalized on that fact with a pet-focused marketing campaign in hopes that it would help retirement savers increase their salary contributions to a 401(k) or other plans.

Participants were able to post photos of their pets on the website; MassMutual reports more than 1,700 photos were posted — everything from dogs and cats to turtles and pet rocks. Users can still vote for their favorite photo online even though the campaign, which ran from March to May, is no longer active.

And the site does more than just showcase furry friends.

The website prompts visitors to sign up for a retirement plan, boost current contributions, consolidate two or more retirement plans or allocate current investments to better meet savers’ objectives.

During the campaign, visitors collectively pledged to increase their contributions to $43 million. David Potter, assistant vice president, public relations and executive communications at MassMutual, says he thinks that number will be exceeded by the end of 2016.

MassMutual created the campaign to connect customers to their communities, Potter says. Considering three out of five Americans own pets, and spend more than $60 billion on them each year, it seemed like a good fit.

MassMutual reports the campaign has connected with savers ages 18-34, who had the highest response rate to the campaign, and those 55 and older, who had the highest increase in salary contributions.

Potter believes the campaign connected with “empty nesters,” parents who become more focused on their pets once their kids leave for college or move out.

As for the millennials, Potter thinks they are more worried about their financial future than any other generation.

“Millennials are more serious about saving and taking their retirement savings more seriously,” he says, citing Social Security and lack of pensions as some sources of financial stress.

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