Betterment, Giggers, and the Future of the Retirement Crisis

Telling stories that matter

In PR, we talk a lot about storytelling. Whether it’s uncovering the story behind a founder that launched a brand new industry, or diving into a client’s treasure trove of data to tell the story behind an incredible year of growth, our goal is to turn these nuggets of inspiration or data into real insights.

While the idea of “data storytelling” can feel trite, we hold ourselves accountable for telling stories that matter, and we love when our clients are up to the task. When data adds a brand new element to an important ongoing dialogue or sparks conversations that haven’t happened before, we know we’re doing our job right.

The gig economy is a major trend in the future of work. Bateman Group’s Future of Work practice collaborates with clients regularly to tell stories about the way gig workers (“giggers”) are reshaping the way we work, changing everything from the way we recruit and hire to how we build a company culture.

It’s clear the gig economy is here to stay, but it’s still relatively young. We’re just at the beginning of understanding the long-term impact of the gig economy on systems like education, or what a flexible and often intermittent income means for personal finances. Our client Betterment (part of our Money and Markets practice) is invested—quite literally—in the future of retirement and was eager to dive deeper into the relationship between the way giggers earn money and how they save for the long haul.

Bringing data to life

We partnered with our newly minted data science team, which works with our clients to develop compelling data and research campaigns that capture the minds of media. Betterment launched a survey of 1,000 U.S. workers—half of whom earn their living solely through the gig economy, and half of whom supplement their traditional 9-5 job with “side hustle” gigs. We asked a few key questions. For instance, why do giggers choose this new way to work? How much are they setting aside for savings or investments? And, what are the biggest barriers that stand between them a healthy retirement?

A few highlights from the report:

Adding to the conversation

The media knows the gig economy is a significant disruptor, but this data showed this trend extends beyond the way we work: the gig economy is poised to completely change how we retire. Many giggers—whether they’ve relied on the gig economy full-time or as a supplement—plan to continue to pick up gigs well after they reach retirement age. This new way of working, coupled with crippling debt, may signal the end of “retirement” as we know it. 

Our team leveraged Betterment’s findings to secure 20 unique articles (and counting!), including features in Washington Post, AARP, TIME, CNBC and Consumer Affairs.

The media results speak for themselves. Betterment’s data was able to add to two meaningful conversations: the gig economy and the retirement crisis. The numbers also sparked new conversations about how these two economic trends may be more interdependent than we realized. Since the launch of our report, the coverage has continued to trickle in, cementing Betterment as a new but credible voice in the gig economy conversation.