Magazine Analysis: AARP The Magazine

Our final magazine analysis was to be about an organization’s magazine. I wanted to analyze National Geographic, but someone jumped on that before I could.

Click through for my analysis of AARP The Magazine, which has the most subscribers of any magazine in the country.


AARP The Magazine is aimed at, not-so-shockingly, members of AARP (so you know, adults in America of retirement age). The median age of its readership is 63 years old. SRDS says that AARP has an estimated readership of 37,337,000—and AARP’s media kit says the same. The media household income of its readers is $61,679.

Some ads that illustrate its audience (older, with some wealth but not a lot): Several ads for life insurance (something that people probably start to think about as they get older), an ad for Fidelity Investment (some capital, but not so rich that these people might not already have money in investments) and a Sleep Number ad that specifically mentions back pain—something that older readers are more likely to have than the young readers of a different magazine.


Each month, according to AARP’s editorial calendar, the magazine focuses on “Health,” “Money,” “Living,” and “People.” The magazine aims to inform the readers (with health and money information/tips). It wants to be  helpful magazine that gets its audience to continue to pay for AARP membership – the magazine is one of the benefits. Unlike some of its competitors (which might include “Parents,” or maybe “People,” or “Southern Living,”) AARP The Magazine tries to go through a wide variety of subject areas to keep its audience engaged for the entire magazine.


The content is made up of mostly legitimate articles with good reporting and writing. The magazine is neatly and clearly divided between four sections (health, money, living & people) so that readers know exactly what they’re going to get in each section.

The magazine, in addition to longer articles and features, includes page or two-page blurbs, graphic features with information and interviews with public figures.


AARP The Magazine is owned by AARP, Inc. The masthead has about 110 staff members listed in its latest issue. AARP also publishes The AARP Bulletin, which is published with more timely content than the slightly evergreen content of AARP The Magazine.


I can’t count exactly, because I’m on a digital issue, but there are around 98 pages in this issue. Of that, About 30 pages are advertising. That’s about a 1:2 editorial/advertising ratio.


I think it definitely does. Its content is organized by the sections that it’s supposed to be, and I can’t seem to find any articles that betray its informational mission. An article with recipes, for example, an article about the hidden health effects of Valentine’s Day and a Q & A about eye health. All these articles are informational and apply to one of their mission sections.


Without seeing in print, it’s hard to be sure. But the design is clean and simply without trying anything too fancy. Each section is clearly marked and features lots of images, rather than graphics. Maybe this is an uneducated guess, but I’d wager that younger audiences are more open to pure infographics than older ones?

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