KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Connecting with the 50+: The Inside Story of the Most Read Magazine in America Today

CRMA 43rd Annual Conference, May 18-20, 2019

Presented by Robert Love, AARP

Robert Love, the editor in chief of AARP The Magazine and its sister publication AARP Bulletin, spoke on how AARP became the best-read magazine in America, how it will meet its digital future and what recipe is needed for future media success.

AARP The Magazine is the world’s largest circulation magazine with 38.6 million readers and it is the number one magazine for the baby boom generation.

Everyday 10,000 boomers turn 65. Yet, age 65 is not was it once was, boomers are disrupting the notion of retirement. Mainstream advertising and publications have ignored boomers, in fact only 5% of advertising is directed to ‘older’ people, but boomers are big spenders.

What are the five principals driving the success of ARRP The Magazine and AARP Bulletin?

  1. They work hard to get the boomer reader
  2. They ride the ride the boomer is on
  3. They provide inspiration, not just information
  4. Printfinity and beyond
  5. They never forget their mission … to empower people to choose how they wish to age.

Q: When is a subscription more than a subscription?

A: When it is a membership 

AARP The Magazine and AARP The Bulletin are membership magazines. The Wall Street Journal now offers The Wall Street Journal Plus a membership model. Costco Connection Magazine is also a membership publication.

As a membership magazine AARP offers:

  1. Deep discounts
  2. Health insurance
  3. Advocacy

AARP content strategy: Know thy readers

AARP Magazine: 6 x year, mix of entertainment, finance, inspirational stories, “a laid-back publication”

AARP Bulletin: 10 x year, news you can use, policy advocacy, Medicare, and Social Security information, “a lean-in publication”

How do they stay in touch with their readers?

They conduct surveys by sending 2,000 subscribers emails

They ask: what did you read, not read, want more of?

They also ask what would you like to see on the cover?

They have come up with a content package that includes health topics, financial advice, travel and lifestyle, which they refer to as: Health, Wealth & Self

Audience Segmentation

There are three different issues, A, B and C, for each publication:

A: ages 50-59

B: ages 60-69

C: age 70 and beyond

This is reflected in stories such as Your Body at 50, Your Body at 60 or Your Body at 70

Their message is delivered with wit, style and humor. They often have covers and feature stories featuring boomer icons like Smokey Robinson and Bob Dylan. They also cover inspirational stories of real people making a difference in their later years.

Boomers love print but AARP also has to offer mobile and online content. Each outlet has content specifically tailored to that outlet. They have no pay wall nor do they plan to do so. They also produce a member only tablet issue and 27 specific newsletters that readers can opt into. They also have apps and a podcast.

AARP acknowledges that print may not be the place where they will find their next readers, that is why they see it is critical to offer digital and multiplatform content.

The AARP mission is critical. Boomers want to leave the world a better place. AARP says join us we will defend you, we will help protect your health by working for positive policies in Washington, D.C. They offer perks to members such as safe driving courses and income tax prep assistance. They ultimately try to mirror the vibrancy of the boomers. They don’t assume their readers don’t know things, and they don’t talk down to their readers. They recognize their reader as important and seek to empower them at all times.