Purpose - To critically assesses the extent to which consumers are being empowered by the internet, focusing specifically on the role of the internet in the context of online pension information provision. Design/methodology/ approach - A mixed method study involving focus groups and observational research. Focus groups explored consumer meanings of empowerment and pension information needs. Actual information provision was measured using a content analysis of a sample of 20 pension web sites from 1996 to 2004 accessed from the internet archive. Findings - While consumers generally feel that the internet is empowering, the sense of empowerment has not been fully realised in the context of pensions. The findings reveal gaps between consumer needs for information and information provision with implications for pension providers and consumers. Research limitations/implications - Relies on consumers' own reported information needs. Pensions are complex and consumers may not fully appreciate the most relevant information in order to make an informed pension decision. Researching professional financial advisors could close the loop and help understand what information consumers should be using to make decisions. Practical implications - Provides useful insights for pension providers and employers in understanding the value of pension web sites and the features/facilities that consumers value most in using them. Originality/value - Addresses a key concern of government - insufficient pension provision - and helps to understand how the internet can be used to engage consumers in pensions and encourage them to take greater responsibility for and ownership of their retirement saving. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.
- Financial services