The Outcome

The Society of Grownups, a storefront for young people to learn about their financial futures over great food and conversation.

When you’re under 40, buying a life insurance policy may seem about as practical as buying a Humvee. That makes insurance a tough sell for a 160-year-old company like MassMutual.

To find a way to become relevant to this generation, MassMutual partnered with IDEO with a mission to get young people interested in their own spending habits.

Over the course of two years, the teams set out to learn about how people spend and save their money, and they uncovered a simple theory: you either have a smart money mindset or you don’t. When it comes to being mature about financial issues—chipping away debt, saving to buy a car—it doesn’t always come naturally. If anything, many feel disconnected from money-related matters, even if it’s in their best interest to know more.

The work felt like a partnership rather than an engagement, and the quality of design approach sits somewhere between art and magic.

Gareth Ross, Vice President, Analytics and Research, MassMutual

"I hate going to a bank and not really knowing what I am doing when it comes to money," said Simon Bowers, a 31-year-old who works in public relations, featured in an article in Fast Company about the MassMutual-IDEO collaboration. "They don’t seem to take into account that this might be scary for us."

So how to invite this wary demographic to the table? Build one for them—literally. The team designed a brick-and-mortar storefront much like a supper club, a warm, inviting space where people in their twenties, thirties, and forties can hang out, feast on delicious meals, attend talks, and learn about things like 401Ks, living on a budget, and how to pick good cheap wine. It’s a sort of master’s program for adulthood, and we called it Society of Grownups.

Collateral uses thoughtful typography and tactile printing techniques.

Society of Grownups collateral

IDEO helped build the new venture from the ground up—designing a brand identity, a digital platform with some of the most sophisticated financial planning tools in the industry, and the actual storefront itself. In the end, everything added up to a common vision, and the new Society of Grownups staff is building on that vision, innovating every day.

Mark Shorey, an advertising executive who was a little surprised to find himself at an event organized by MassMutual, said: "It’s kind of insane: When would you ever incorporate a visit to a financial institution into your Friday going-out plans?"

The responsive website keeps your plan up-to-date.

Digital2 Highres

The facade features gold leafing and a sophisticated mural.

Society of Grownups storefront

An inspirational intro video for the website launch.