Senior tour hits the mall

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Giving a spry twist to a marketing event targeting senior citizens was no easy feat, say organizers of "Live it Up," a shopping mall tour designed to reach older people in 10 major cities this summer.

To get seniors' attention, the tour-sponsored by Washington, D.C.-based AARP's magazines Modern Maturity and My Generation-is using sexy dancers, golf competitions, yoga demonstrations and family entertainment. Both magazines are published out of New York.

"There are not a lot of other tours targeting the over-50 market, although an American turns 50 every seven seconds and this market has huge discretionary income of $750 billion a year," said Bonnie Maglio, promotion director for the two magazines.

With the help of Very Special Entertainment, a San Diego-based event marketing company, the tour is bringing a troupe of high-kicking, Rockettes-style dancers (who happen to be over the age of 50) to malls, along with expert senior citizen ballroom dancers and yoga pros, who demonstrate their moves to lively music in each city.

In addition to golf games, free product samples and prizes, each tour stop includes a story-telling hour for grandparents and grandchildren, usually harnessing the talents of local TV celebrities.

Building on a similar effort last year for Modern Maturity, the tour has clicked with sponsors, who have doubled their number this year with the addition of My Generation, which launched earlier this year.

"We don't believe people have made up their minds for good on brands at any age, and the mall is a great place to meet and influence senior citizens, who are there with their extended families," said Robert Dutcheshen, manager of merchandising and promotions at Hyundai Motor America, one of the tour's key sponsors.

Other tour sponsors include Lipton, GlaxoSmithKline, Subaru, Holiday Inn, Procter & Gamble Co. , Hertz Corp. and Norwegian Coastal Voyages.

The tour, which launched in Chicago in April, visits upscale malls in major cities on two weekend days each. Based on traffic patterns so far, more than 1 million consumers will be exposed to the tour before it ends Oct. 21 in Seattle, organizers said.

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