Author of Designing for Behavior Change

Stephen Wendel

🕒  DURATION: 15 MIN

A Blueprint for Behavioral Design

Presented by

INTERACTIVE CASE STUDY #3

Part 2

Welcome to the second part of this Pro case study. 

This one is packed with great insights. Over to Steve!

Hi again! I’m Steve Wendel, Author of Designing for Behavior Change and Head of Behavioral Science at Morningstar.

Welcome to our second part of a Blueprint for Behavioral Design. The goal here is to share some of the most useful insights from my book, Designing for Behavior Change.

Today we'll cover the following, including an additional couple of Behavioral Design Gems 💎

How to understand and diagnose micro-behaviors 🧐

5.

4.

1.

2.

3.

A framework for identifying obstacles and behavior change strategies 🚀

How we can cue the desired behavior and elicit the right emotional response 🤩

How we can support user in making the right evaluation and boost their ability 💪

Strategies for getting the timing right and ensuring a positive experience ⭐️

Case Study Overview

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DECIDE

A Blueprint for Applied Behavioral Science

Define the Problem

Craft the Intervention

Implement the Solution

Determine the Impact

Evaluate Next Steps

Explore the Context

In the previous case study, I introduced you to the DECIDE process, a framework for how we decide on the right behavior-changing interventions in our products.

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

We have previously covered the first two steps of the process: Define the Problem and Explore the Context.

DECIDE

A Blueprint for Applied Behavioral Science

Define the Problem

Craft the Intervention

Implement the Solution

Determine the Impact

Evaluate Next Steps

Explore the Context

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

Well, almost...

DECIDE

A Blueprint for Applied Behavioral Science

Define the Problem

Craft the Intervention

Implement the Solution

Determine the Impact

Evaluate Next Steps

Explore the Context

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

Just a short recap... Last time, we were looking at developing an app to help people get off the couch and exercise.

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This is how we defined our behavioral problem 💡

By helping a middle-aged working parent to regularly go to the gym, that will help them achieve a positive health outcome.

"By helping [actor] [start / stop]  doing [describe action], we will cause [outcome]."

Define Behavioral Problem

When doing Behavioral Design, you particularly need to identify the behavioral problem you want to solve, by encouraging or stopping a specific behavior. This can be framed as a below hypothesis.

LAST WEEK RECAP

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We have also explored the context of our problem by coming up with a behavioral plan.

Micro-behaviors are the small steps between the starting point and the target action.

The Behavioral Plan

Tool for doing qualitative and quantitative research. You map out the status quo and the micro-behaviors from there to action.

Once you have your map you then see if you users can take action at each step.

LAST WEEK RECAP

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It looked something like this...

👀 Read the email about the app

🔽 Download the app

🔐 Sign up for it with email and password

🔊 Set reminders in the app to go on a specific day

🙈 Sees and opens those reminders when they appear

👕 Pick up gym clothes (if they are clean)

🏋️‍♀️ Go to the gym!

User steps from couch to gym

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

Remember that our behavioral plan describes each small micro-behavior the user needs to take to move from inaction to action. 

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

👀 Read the email about the app

🔽 Download the app

🔐 Sign up for it with email and password

🔊 Set reminders in the app to go on a specific day

🙈 Sees and opens those reminders when they appear

👕 Pick up gym clothes (if they are clean)

🏋️‍♀️ Go to the gym!

User steps from couch to gym

However, for each micro-behavior, your users may falter....

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

👀 Read the email about the app

🔽 Download the app

🔐 Sign up for it with email and password

🔊 Set reminders in the app to go on a specific day

🙈 Sees and opens those reminders when they appear

👕 Pick up gym clothes (if they are clean)

🏋️‍♀️ Go to the gym!

User steps from couch to gym

Therefore, our next step is to diagnose our behavioral plan. 

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👀 Read the email about the app

🔽 Download the app

🔐 Sign up for it with email and password

🔊 Set reminders in the app to go on a specific day

🙈 Sees and opens those reminders when they appear

👕 Pick up gym clothes (if they are clean)

🏋️‍♀️ Go to the gym!

User steps from couch to gym

Enter the CREATE Action Funnel!

C

UE 👀

R

EACTION 🙌

E

VALUATION 🧐

THE

A

BILITY 💪

CREATE

FUNNEL

T

IMING

E

XPERIENCE ⭐️

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The CREATE funnel represents the six factors that can help drive your user to start or stop certain actions.

The "CREATE" factors can be used to close the user's intention-action gap.

The CREATE Funnel

CREATE represents six factors that can help drive your user to take certain conscious actions. You can close the user's intention-action gap by influencing one or more of the following preconditions: cue, reaction, evaluation, ability, timing, and experience. 

BEHAVIORAL TOOL

YOUR PROGRESS

C

R

E

A

T

E

C

UE 👀

R

EACTION 🙌

E

VALUATION 🧐

THE

A

BILITY 💪

CREATE

FUNNEL

T

IMING

E

XPERIENCE ⭐️

🔎

Psst. Hey again! Remember this symbol 🔎?  When you see it, click down with your arrow key 🔽. There are further insights to uncover below.

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Did you think I was going to run out of Matrix gifs? No way. Bring it on 😎

Cheat codes to CREATE actions...

1. Cue:  What would cue your users to think about taking action, in a specific moment?

2. Reaction:  What emotional reaction do they have, in that moment

3. Evaluation:  What’s their evaluation of the costs and benefits? Does it seem worthwhile to do?

4. Ability to act: Do they think they’ll succeed?

5. Timing:  Is it urgent right now? 

6. Experience: Have they had negative experiences in the past?

Based on these factors, here are the six questions we should ask ourselves to identify obstacles when diagnosing our behavioral plan.

The CREATE Funnel Questions

👀 Does something CUE them to pay attention to it in the first place?

 

🙌 What is their emotional REACTION once they do?

 

🧐 How do they EVALUATE the costs and benefits?

💪 Do they have the ABILITY and self-confidence to act?

⏰ Is the TIMING right, or will they procrastinate?

⭐️ Have they been burned in the past by a negative prior EXPERIENCE?

We look for these obstacles at each micro-behavior to understand what might cause our users to fail.

WHAT IS USER'S INITAL FIRST STATE

USER TAKES ACTION!

MICRO-BEHAVIOR 1

MICRO-BEHAVIOR 2

C _________________________

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A _________________________

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C _________________________

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A _________________________

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C _________________________

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A _________________________

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MICRO-BEHAVIOR 3

Here again is our Behavioral Plan

👀 Read the email about the app

🔽 Download the app

🔐 Sign up for it with email and password

🔊 Set reminders in the app to go on a specific day

🙈 Sees and opens those reminders when they appear

👕 Pick up gym clothes (if they are clean)

🏋️‍♀️ Go to the gym!

User steps from couch to gym

When we look at, for example, the micro-behavior "Pick up gym clothes" – What could be some missing CREATE factor(s)?

USER IS SITTING ON THE COUCH

USER GOES TO THE GYM!

PICK UP GYM

CLOTHES

Maybe our user won't have any clean clothes for the gym. They would then not have the necessary ability to complete this action.

Cue

Reaction

Evaluation

Ability: No clean clothes

 ?  Timing

 ?  Experience

USER IS SITTING ON THE COUCH

USER GOES TO THE GYM!

PICK UP GYM

CLOTHES

...or they may have some bad experiences and felt exposed and judged when they first walked into the gym.   

Cue

Reaction

Evaluation

Ability: No clean clothes

 ?  Timing

 Experience: Negative memory 😢

USER IS SITTING ON THE COUCH

USER GOES TO THE GYM!

PICK UP GYM

CLOTHES

Going through this process for each micro-behavior will help you understand exactly what obstacles might prevent your users from taking the desirable action(s).

Cue

Reaction

Evaluation

Ability: No clean clothes

 ?  Timing

 Experience: Negative memory 😢

USER IS SITTING ON THE COUCH

USER GOES TO THE GYM!

PICK UP GYM

CLOTHES

There are additional exercises in the book to help with this process, but we’ve covered the most important parts. 

DECIDE

A Blueprint for Applied Behavioral Science

Define the Problem

Craft the Intervention

Implement the Solution

Determine the Impact

Evaluate Next Steps

Explore the Context

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

Now let's go to the next step...

DECIDE

A Blueprint for Applied Behavioral Science

Define the Problem

Craft the Intervention

Implement the Solution

Determine the Impact

Evaluate Next Steps

Explore the Context

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

Crafting behavioral interventions! 🚀

DECIDE

A Blueprint for Applied Behavioral Science

Define the Problem

Craft the Intervention

Implement the Solution

Determine the Impact

Evaluate Next Steps

Explore the Context

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

To effectively help your users overcome the identified obstacles, we need interventions that match the specific problems your users are facing.  

DECIDE

A Blueprint for Applied Behavioral Science

Define the Problem

Craft the Intervention

Implement the Solution

Determine the Impact

Evaluate Next Steps

Explore the Context

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

Here, we revisit the six factors that can help drive your users to start or stop certain actions:

Cue, Reaction, Evaluation, Ability, Timing, and Experience. 

C

UE 👀

R

EACTION 🙌

E

VALUATION 🧐

THE

A

BILITY 💪

CREATE

FUNNEL

T

IMING

E

XPERIENCE ⭐️

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

We will go through each of these techniques for the purpose of now using them to address each of the obstacles you've previously identified. 

C

UE 👀

R

EACTION 🙌

E

VALUATION 🧐

THE

A

BILITY 💪

CREATE

FUNNEL

T

IMING

E

XPERIENCE ⭐️

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

First up is CUES. What would cue your users to think about taking action, in a specific moment?

CUE

BEHAVIORAL TOOL

Cues are what makes you start thinking about taking action. It's the first step in the funnel.

YOUR PROGRESS

R

E

A

T

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What would cue your users to think about taking action, in a specific moment?

C

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Our instinct in product development and marketing is often to try to PULL people’s attention to our products – to yell at them until they pay attention.

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Often, there are better ways to do it.  

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For example, in an experiment I ran with one of the largest employers in the world, we sent their employees emails, telling them about a free benefit...

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Each message had the exact same content – but by varying the time we contacted people....

11:00

10:30

Thursday

Thursday

10:30

Friday

08:00

Friday

10:30

Saturday

17:00

Saturday

10:30

Sunday

17:00

Sunday

Note: These are only a subset of all time schedules

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...we could significantly improve response rates. 

11:00

10:30

Thursday

Thursday

10:30

Friday

08:00

Friday

10:30

Saturday

17:00

Saturday

10:30

Sunday

17:00

Sunday

Note: These are only a subset of all time schedules

6.4% clicked

7.2% clicked

4.7% clicked

5.7% clicked

5.0% clicked

5.9% clicked

4.5% clicked

4.1% clicked

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As it turned out, the best time to communicate was when the employees had attention to spare, rather than trying to compete for their attention when they were busy.

10:30

Saturday

17:00

Sunday

Note: These are only a subset of all time schedules

6.4% clicked

7.2% clicked

11:00

10:30

Thursday

Thursday

10:30

Friday

08:00

Friday

17:00

Saturday

10:30

Sunday

4.7% clicked

5.7% clicked

5.0% clicked

5.9% clicked

4.5% clicked

4.1% clicked

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WHEN you interact with people is one of the most important and context-dependent factors in behavioral design.  

10:30

Saturday

17:00

Sunday

Note: These are only a subset of all time schedules

6.4% clicked

7.2% clicked

11:00

10:30

Thursday

Thursday

10:30

Friday

08:00

Friday

17:00

Saturday

10:30

Sunday

4.7% clicked

5.7% clicked

5.0% clicked

5.9% clicked

4.5% clicked

4.1% clicked

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We should always aim to align our cues with people’s time. Communicate with users when they have time and attention to spare.

10:30

Saturday

17:00

Sunday

Note: These are only a subset of all time schedules

6.4% clicked

7.2% clicked

11:00

10:30

Thursday

Thursday

10:30

Friday

08:00

Friday

17:00

Saturday

10:30

Sunday

4.7% clicked

5.7% clicked

5.0% clicked

5.9% clicked

4.5% clicked

4.1% clicked

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Another similar technique is to insert your message in places where the person’s is already paying attention (instead of pulling their attention to something new).

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For example, in 2014, Norwegian and Icelandic researchers found that replacing unhealthy items with healthy options in the checkout area can significantly increase last-minute sales of healthier foods.

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Research paper

Think of all the sugar you could have avoided only if those candy bars were not at the checkout area... 😅

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🔎

Here's are some of the other techniques to start or stop actions using cues.

CUE to think about taking action
TO START AN ACTION
TO STOP AN ACTION
  • Relabel something as a cue
  • Use reminders
  • Make it clear where to act
  • Remove distractions
  • Align with people’s time
  • Unlink the action from other behaviors that flow into it
  • Remove reminders
  • Make the cue more difficult to see or notice
  • Add distractions and more interesting actions
  • Move the cue to a time the person is busy, or make the person busy​ ​

Now, let’s say you have your user's attention. 

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Their minds will have an immediate intuitive or emotional reaction.

REACTION

Emotional reaction refers to our emotional response from being cued to act. E.g. Eliciting positive feelings.

BEHAVIORAL TOOL

YOUR PROGRESS

R

E

A

T

E

What emotional reaction do they have, in that moment?

C

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That is their ‘System 1’ response you may have heard of in the behavioral literature. 

🔎

REACTION

Emotional reaction refers to our emotional response from being cued to act. E.g. Eliciting positive feelings.

BEHAVIORAL TOOL

YOUR PROGRESS

R

E

A

T

E

What emotional reaction do they have, in that moment?

C

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You're making this look easy. Keep it up!

SYSTEM 1 & SYSTEM 2
According to Dual Process Theory (Kahneman & Tversky), human judgment and decision-making can be understood and explained within the "two-system" view. 
SYSTEM 1
• Fast
• Automatic
• Low / no effort
• Unconscious
SYSTEM 2
• Slow
• More deliberative
• Effortful
• Conscious

The challenge here is that whatever your value proposition, the user response can turn them away before they even think about that value.

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So, what do you do?   

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One technique is peer comparisons. Many times, we human may lack knowledge on the appropriate behaviors for certain situations.

Make It Normal With Peer Comparisons or Social Proof

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From the HelloWallet dashboard

Opower utility bill - Allcott (2011)

To make up for this lack of information, we often look at what others are doing and then adjust our behaviors according to what's supposed to be the "normal" behaviors.

Make It Normal With Peer Comparisons or Social Proof

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

From the HelloWallet dashboard

Opower utility bill - Allcott (2011)

HelloWallet and Opower have here leveraged this heuristic of looking at others for the 'right' behavior. 

Make It Normal With Peer Comparisons or Social Proof

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

From the HelloWallet dashboard

Opower utility bill - Allcott (2011)

In the Opwer example, they told their utility customers how much electricity their neighbors were using as well as how much their 'efficient' neighbors were using.

Make It Normal With Peer Comparisons or Social Proof

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

From the HelloWallet dashboard

Opower utility bill - Allcott (2011)

This can increase people's social motivation to adjust their electricity usage to be in the 'normal range'.

Make It Normal With Peer Comparisons or Social Proof

BEHAVIORAL DESIGN GEMS COLLECTED

From the HelloWallet dashboard

Opower utility bill - Allcott (2011)

Other techniques include using expert testimonials, associating with positive imagery, and ensuring a pleasant and evocative design overall. 

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🔎

Wow, you're learning quick. Use these new "kung fu" techniques responsibly!

Emotional REACTION
TO START AN ACTION
TO STOP AN ACTION
  • Narrate the past
  • Associate with the positive
  • Deploy social proof
  • Use peer comparisons
    
  • Be authentic and personal
    
  • Make it professional & beautiful
  • Narrate the past
  • Associate with action with negative things
  • Deploy social disproof and social support for change 
  • Use negative peer comparisons
  • Be authentic and personal
  • Make the surroundings ugly or unprofessional

If you don’t lose your user because of their emotional reaction, then a more deliberative process (“System 2”) kicks in.  

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That's when your user starts to conscioulsly evaluate the costs and benefits of the decisions.

EVALUATION

BEHAVIORAL TOOL

Conscious Evaluation of costs and benefits.  E.g. Long, multi-step sign-up process.

YOUR PROGRESS

R

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A

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What’s their evaluation of the costs and benefits? Does it seem worthwhile to do?

C

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Even then, users don’t evaluate actions like a spreadsheet – with careful and accurate equations.

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Rather, our biases warp that evaluation too. 

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For example, users are likely to place undue focus on short-term benefits (and costs) over long-term benefits.  

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Katy Milkman lead a team of researchers at Wharton to develop an intervention called “temptation bundling” to counter this – by bundling a near-term benefit with a long-term one.  

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"We studied the impact of bundling instantly gratifying but guilt inducing “want” experiences (enjoying page-turner audiobooks) with valuable “should” behaviors providing delayed rewards (exercising)"

In the study, participants were given iPods loaded with audiobooks that they could only listen to at the gym while exercising. This lead participants to visit the gym 51% more frequently than control participants, significantly increasing the time people spent exercising. 

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We can also intentionally shift people into a deliberative process, and avoid a knee-jerk emotional reaction. 

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In this experiment, my team found that some people were quickly skipping the opt-in box to learn more about Morningstar’s research (gasp! 😱)

System 1 🧠 : “Yeah, this is something I can safely ignore”

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We redesigned the screen to slow people down – ADDING friction – to encourage a more intentional, deliberative process.  

Allow them to select the materials that they value, giving them control

Change the form to encourage people to make a deliverable choice

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It turned out that people did want Morningstar’s research, once they thought about it. This simple test lead to a 500% increase in opt-ins.

Allow them to select the materials that they value, giving them control

Change the form to encourage people to make a deliverable choice

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Some of the other techniques that focus on the cost-benefit evaluation include Loss Aversion, Framing Effects, and simplifying to avoid Choice Paralysis and Cognitive Overload.

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🔎

Evaluation time... What choice will you make 🔴🔵?

EVALUATION of costs and benefits
TO START AN ACTION
TO STOP AN ACTION
  • Make sure the incentives are right
  • Leverage existing motivations
  • Test out different types of motivators
  • Leverage loss aversion
  • Use Commitment Contracts
  • Pull future motivations into the present
  • Use competition
  • Avoid cognitive overhead
  • Avoid choice overload
  • Increase the costs, decrease the benefits 
  • Unlink the action from existing motivations 
  • Test out different types of motivators to stop
  • Leverage loss aversion (same!) 
  • Use Commitment Contracts (same!) 
  • Increase motivation 
  • Use competition to stop
  • Add to cognitive overhead
  • Add to choice overload 

Next up is ability to act, whether it's resources, logistics, self-efficacy, or anything required for the behavior to be accomplished.

ABILITY

BEHAVIORAL TOOL

Ability refers to the resources, logistics and self-efficacy people have available to support them to take action. 

YOUR PROGRESS

R

E

A

T

E

Do they think they’ll succeed? Can they act now? Do they have the resource?

C

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We human are procrastinators by nature and tend to stick to our status quo rather than making active choices that might better benefit ourselves in the long-run.

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The act of making these active choices can become a friction in itself. So what can we do to remove those frictions?

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One famous example is the Save More Tomorrow Plan, or the SMarT Plan, which is a pension program created by Thaler and Benartzi.

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The idea behind this intervention came from the fact that lack of retirement savings is a big problem in the US. 

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While most people actually do want save more for their future, they still struggle to turn that intention into action.

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