Lead up to the QRCA Symposium: Getting Young Adults to “Tune-In” to AARP
A look at how AARP managed to get young adults to engage with LifeTuner.org
As you can imagine, getting young adults to see an AARP offering as immediately relevant requires a delicate balance and approach. In needing to test the alpha version of their new LifeTuner.org site targeted to 25-34 year olds, AARP was tasked with finding an effective research solution for determining “when” and “how” the association with AARP would be made, and Kristin Schwitzer of Beacon Research was able to provide just the right touch with her solution.
Over a two year period, Kristin executed a 3-phase research study that included a series of in-person and online usability interviews, as well as over 200 quali-quant online interviews. The results: an award-winning website now publically available (www.lifetuner.org) and tremendous media coverage!
I recently had the opportunity to interview Diane Ty of AARP and Kristin Schwitzer of Beacon Research about this phenomenal success.
Part of the compelling nature of this hybrid and comprehensive study is that certain aspects of the methodology were new to the AARP. What kind of thought/decision process went into deciding to try a new/unexplored method?
Diane: Kristin’s proposal made complete sense for a couple of reasons. First, it was very innovative in that it combined both quantitative and qualitative consumer feedback in one study; that was a first for me, but again, it made a lot of sense. Second, because of the use of web cams, it was both cost and time effective since we could achieve a national sample without getting on a plane. It also meant not pigging-out on M&M’s and other snacks! I had worked with Kristin before and indeed had a great deal of trust in what she would deliver. I also knew that the results of the study would be presented to the AARP Board and that I would be able to use direct quotes from consumers to illuminate the quantitative findings, so it was an easy decision to buy into Kristin’s recommended approach.
Many people are very interested in the youth and young adult GenY/Millennial markets right now, and see them as a great mysterious bunch. What was the biggest learning/surprise that came out of this research?
Diane: I think the biggest learning for us was that our first web page design was confusing to the target – they didn’t understand the site’s purpose and thought it looked too much like an ad. And, how the use of people on a homepage or internal pages can work against us if the user doesn’t immediately identify with the individuals they are seeing on the page. We knew going in from previous research that AARP as a sponsor of LifeTuner would be viewed as positive by the young adult target. However, the big question was “how” we should best show the affinity. The research gave us the answers needed to implement the current AARP branding (i.e., bottom of each page and in the “About Us” section); this was excellent learning.
Kristin: Also, it was clear that pictures are power with young people – they just are not going to read a lot of text! In a split second, they’re going to ask themselves “how does this site relate to me?” and either engage or move on – without a lot of reading.
What are you most excited about, in regard to the LifeTuner post-beta launch?
Diane: I am most excited about how LifeTuner is being embraced by the rest of the AARP organization and being viewed as a key resource to enable AARP to fulfill on its members’ need for a stronger intergenerational connection.
Any other final thoughts?
Kristin: I encourage all research buyers to be as open to trying new ways of gathering consumer learning as Diane was, and all research practitioners to proactively share new methodologies, as appropriate, with your clients!
To see Diane and Kristin’s presentation of their case study, “AARP Targets 25-34 Year Olds?!?,” come to Chicago on May 12 for the QRCA Symposium on Excellence in Qualitative Research.