The Best Of…AARP Repackages Itself for a Younger Crowd

        Published May 9, 2008, All Pawtucket All The Times

         In 1999, the American Association of Retired Person’s changed its moniker to AARP, reflecting its new efforts to bring aging baby boomers into its rank and file.

         Four years later, AARP made a decision to codify its name change in the content of its official publications. No longer in its official membership publications would it recognize a generation gap between the Pepsi generation and their elderly parents.  In 2003, AARP, America’s most recognized aging advocacy group, launched AARP, The Magazine.  The organization was betting that the merger of two separate publications  (My Generation for people 50-59 and Modern Maturity for those age 60 and over) would “appeal to octogenarians, their fifty-something off-spring and anyone in between.”

         In explaining the merger of publications, Hugh Delehanty, editor in chief of AARP The Magazine, in the inaugural March/April 2003 issue, stated:  “We concluded that what unites the generations is much more powerful than what separates us.”

        Targeting the baby boomer generation for AARP membership was a sound decision because of the nation’s demographic shift, noted C. Brit Beemer, chairman ofAmerica’s Research Group.  “With increased longevity it was not uncommon for aging baby boomers and their children to both become retirees at the same time,” the marketing guru said in a released AARP statement announcing AARP’s one magazine for two generations.  “As a result the interests of baby boomers and their parents will naturally converge around health, financial stability and travel, even if the way they handle those issues is very different.”

        Now, five years later, AARP now recognized as the world’s largest membership organization for those age 50. announces the relaunch of its Web site, AARP.org. The new Web site targets boomers with social networking opportunities, expert content and entertainment tailored to their unique needs. One of the key components of the newly revamped site is the expansion of AARP Bulletin’s print publication into a daily news site, AARP Bulletin Today, the only online news source catering specifically to the age 50 plus demographic.

       AARP.org has been reinvented as the on line destination for those who want to stay connected, informed and engaged,” said AARP CEO Bill Novelli in a statement announcing the group’s newly designed web site. “AARP.org is designed to meet the needs of a generation that is increasingly online. There are nearly 80 million boomers in America. This influential generation comprises about one third of on line users – users who may feel out of place on networking sites aimed at their children and grandchildren, but who are looking to connect with family and friends online,” Novelli says.

        AARP officials hope that AARP Bulletin Today will become the go-to news source for age 50 and over Americans and offers daily news and exclusive features brought to life with multimedia and interactivity to engage readers in a variety of ways. Some new, engaging, and useful features on include columns such as Scam Alert, Save a Buck, Outrage of the Week, Ask the Experts, What I Really Know, Health Discoveries, Myth Busters, Ask Ms. Medicare, Campaign Watch, and Data bank USA. The new site offers more original content and news reporting from the same team that has delivered trusted, credible, and actionable news and information through the AARP Bulletin. The site will also deliver targeted news feeds for breaking news specifically on issues of interest for those age 50 and over, from hundreds of top news sources.

         Social networking sites have become increasingly popular, but are mainly targeted to the twenty something crowd.   Because of this, AARP is launching a new on line social network that addresses the needs of people age 50 and over, on its official Web Site.

          Kathleen Connell, State Director, for AARP Rhode Island, says, “like any successful Fortune 500 Company, AARP must continue to adapt to current society.”  The relaunching of AARP’s is one strategy to do this, she says.

           “We are pleased that AARP launched its updated website (AARP.org) to better serve the boomer population which is currently the largest cohort of AARP using the internet.”  However, she added that the use of internet services is now increasing for older seniors at a rapid pace.

            Herb Weiss is a Pawtucket-based writer who covers aging, medical and health care issues.  This article was published in the May 9, 2008 issue of All Pawtucket All The Time. He can be reached at hweissri@aol.com.

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