Most of us dream of a comfortable retirement with the freedom to do what we want. We'd also like this retirement to start when we're young enough to enjoy this freedom. Parts of the investing industry tap into this desire with a self-sustaining marketing strategy.
We regularly see ads with images of retirees traveling, golfing, and generally enjoying an upper-middle class retirement lifestyle. While it is possible for an individual to achieve such a retirement, we can't all achieve it; there just wouldn't be enough young people to maintain golf courses, prepare food for us in restaurants, and provide all the other services desired by an army of wealthy retirees.
This guarantees that most people will fall short of the retirement dreams that are marketed to us. Most people are also aware that they are not on the right financial track for a dream retirement. This leads to the next type of marketing: retirement polls.
There is no shortage of retirement polls that reveal that most of us are worried we haven't saved enough. And based on the lofty goals of dream retirements, it is true that most of us haven't saved enough. This is regularly revealed by studies of how much money people should have saved by certain ages and how far short of these goals most of us have fallen.
The perfect thing about this marketing approach is that it never has to change. As long as the retirement dream remains beyond the reach of the average person, most people will necessarily fall short. And some fraction of these people will seek help from expensive investment helpers.