Wednesday, June 04, 2008

AARP and Borders

Like me you you may believe that this agreement of a marketing agreement between AARP and Borders is at best bad timing based on the company's announcement of headcount reductions and the general problematic bookselling environment.
AARP and Borders(R) announced today a long-term agreement that will provide unique benefits and discounts to AARP's more than 39 million members. The nation's largest membership organization for people age 50 and over and Borders
will combine forces to expand access to information on health, financial security, travel, and other issues important to personal growth and quality of life for those over 50. In addition, Borders will offer AARP members in-store and online discounts on select merchandise and will encourage AARP members to take advantage of the benefits of membership in the Borders Rewards(R) customer loyalty program, which now has over 26 million members.

On the surface, and as a marketing agreement, this may be mutually beneficial; however, I would argue this group doesn't need too much additional motivation to buy books. Getting this group into Borders to make their purchases is not a problem unique to this segment and that's the bigger issue at the crux of Borders problems. Separate from bigger issue, whether offering membership discounts in addition to the Borders Rewards program is required to encourage this group is debatable. On the other hand, this program may compound the view that the industry is catering to the wrong market. Envision the flyers that will now populate your local Borders: won't it begin to look like the waiting room at your doctors office?

Regrettably, the marketing department also thought it a great idea to organize an essay writing contest around the idea of "Your Next Chapter". While this is clearly suggestive of a 50+ person contemplating life choices, there is the distinct possibility that any number of current or past Border's staffers will consider entering the content on behalf of the corporation.

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