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AARP’s “Rewards for Good” Loyalty Program a “Labor of Love”

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For Nakati Edwards, VP, Online Marketing for AARP, its freshly launched loyalty program−“Rewards for Good”− has been a “labor of love” for the past 18 months.

Edwards explained to Loyalty360 how the new loyalty program, which launched last month, was created.

“It came about because we’ve always been interested in how do you honor and reward users and members,” she said. “We thought this would be a great marriage of rewarding customers, but also finding a way to put our social mission at the forefront of our program, which is how to live the best lives as you age.”

An interesting sidebar surfaced: AARP is no longer an acronym that stands for American Association of Retired Persons. AARP is the official name of the organization and half of its members are, in fact, not retired because they don’t want to retire or can’t afford to retire.

Edwards said the loyalty program was created to reward engagement on the AARP website.

“This is really different because it’s all about engagement,” Edwards said. “We’re asking for active participation, trying to make the inactive person active.”

Edwards hopes that the “Rewards for Good” loyalty program, which rewards users of AARP.org for engaging with exclusive online tools and information that delivers meaningful impact to their lives, increases online customer engagement.

AARP’s “Rewards for Good” loyalty program is unique because, unlike other loyalty programs, there is no purchase necessary to earn points toward savings for various products and services. Users just need to register on AARP.org to get started.

Points can be earned simply by engaging with online tools, such as webinars or quizzes which will benefit them by delivering meaningful information that will positively impact their lives. As this is the first-of-its-kind loyalty program, Edwards said AARP did not benchmark this program against current marketplace offerings.

“However, there is a rigorous test and learn effort behind the program and we are continuously evaluating and optimizing to ensure we are delivering the best experience to our users,” Edwards said.

Edwards said the program has had hundreds of thousands of people sign up, and she expects to see the percentage of users who are logged in on the site increase as well. AARP is working with Destination Rewards on the redemption side of the program.

AARP’s loyalty program, which is aimed at improving the lives of people aged 50 and older, is designed to reward online users with points based on their level of online engagement with select self-improvement tools and content−a distinct contrast from the traditional loyalty programs that solely reward consumers based on monetary transactions.

Points can be earned by participating in hundreds of activities designed to help users enrich their lives through smart saving, healthy eating, dating, retirement tips and more.

Edwards said a primary goal is to demonstrate the enormous value and service provided by AARP.org as well as offer its 38 million members fun ways to save on their favorite products and services.

Currently in the U.S., Edwards said there are 102 million people over the age of 50, and 72 million of them are online.

AARP’s Rewards for Good program provides immediate value to users who can redeem points earned for more than 200,000 rewards, including exclusive savings from select brands and local merchants. Points can be used toward live auctions that offer everything from iPads to gift cards, and sweepstakes entries that are used for the chance to win brand name prizes. Rewards for Good offers a genuine savings off of the lowest prices on everything from electronics to apparel.

Participants can also use a combination of rewards currency plus a credit card payment toward the cost of the retail price of products and merchandise from more than 200 participating brands including Lacoste, Macy’s, Steve Madden, Kohl’s, Fossil, and Dooney & Burke. Anyone aged 18 and over can participate in the Rewards for Good program by simply creating a free account at AARP.org. and AARP members earn 50% more points for participating in activities. Rewards for Good  is structured to ensure that there is active engagement tied to point accumulation and reinforces the promise that this program is committed to the “good” and well-being of each participant.

The program is content focused, Edwards said, and this year is the first step in a learning process.

“This year we need to understand what is a typical earn rate and how does that work for us,” she explained. “We do have some broad strokes around various things that vendors have told us, but the first year will be a big learning experience for us.”

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