AARP – does it have a long-term future?

In April of 2012 I wrote a post on what I felt was the need for AARP to change its messaging and to re-brand. Some of the recent television spots feature AARP CEO Jo Ann Jenkins in which she promotes AARP can help by being a resource. However the spots also indicate that AARP recognizes it can do a better job of communicating its value proposition and connecting with its core audience.

It’s important to note that AARP is a non-profit organization. The overall revenues are impressive none-the-less. According to its 2015 Consolidated Financial Statement, AARP’s largest sources of income were*:

  • royalties for the rights to use AARP’s intellectual property (name, logo, etc.) paid by commercial providers of products, services and discounts available to AARP members ($838,649,000);
  • membership dues ($295,180,000); and
  • advertisements placed in its publications ($149,604,000).

*source Wikipedia

That adds up to $1,283,433,000 for those of you scoring at home.

In order to be a member of AARP you have to be 50 or more years old. In the United States as of the 2012 census there were more than 108,000,000 people 50+. Today, 5 years later ,there are even more. As of 2014 there were roughly 37.8 million AARP members. That there are more than 70 million Americans saying NO (I am one of them) to AARP represents a huge business opportunity for AARP.   Yet as in the past, the organization continues to miss on the messaging.

While the official name of the organization remains AARP, in 1999 it ceased to represent the American Association of Retired Persons and instead focused on people over 50. Of course that change did not register in the minds of actual people.

So really AARP is a 50+ club where we special people get things that the under 50’s do not. Exclusivity IS cool and simply aging into a deal is also kind of cool. So why not change AARP to something like the ‘50+ is fabulous’ club?   Sure there are many people (yes BOTH men and women), that do not wish to be identified as being 50 or more. Well it was unlikely AARP was going to get them to become members easily in the first place. Why bother trying to appease and appeal to them?

In its two minute spot a clear depiction of benefits is in evidence. The support could have gone further in noting how much John saved on coffee and donuts this year at Dunkin’ Donuts. Or how much Mary saved on movie tickets in a year with their 25% discount on tickets. The fact that 7 million Americans get their health insurance via AARP branded insurance is also interesting.

It’s questionable at best whether the offer of a free tote bag and the AARP magazine is really a benefit to the member or just a way for AARP to put more ads in front of the member. My opinion is that the premium does nothing but reinforce the dowdiness of the organization.

AARP can and should do better. What’s stopping them?

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver, baseball lover
This entry was posted in 50+ market, Marketing stuff and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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