For decades, marketers have considered women 50+ (and even women in their 40s) barely worth marketing to, instead going after dewy women in their 20s and 30s. That’s despite the fact that at 40 million strong, boomer women are the largest segment of women in the U.S. and spend more than other female consumers because they can. These “mature” women control $19 trillion and own more than three-fourths of the nation’s financial wealth.
But wait, there’s more. Women will inherit 70% of the $41 trillion in intergenerational wealth throughout the next 40 years. With money in their pockets, these women are happily living life to the fullest, focused on health and wellness, a strong social network and curating experiences.
REFLECT HER LIFE
Boomers want brands to reflect them, and they reward those companies that do it well. Case in point: my client, Fresh Produce, a women’s apparel retailer known for its colorful, comfortable clothing found online and in stores.
CMO John Harris said Fresh Produce is celebrating its 30th birthday because it has remained relevant to its customer as she ages.
“Our core customer found our brand in the 1980s, drawn to our clothing’s color, comfort and easy-to-style approach,” Harris said. “We’ve stayed true to those roots while adapting our product mix as her lifestyle changed. Age is just a number, and our brand’s young-at-heart spirit is truly ageless.”
He added: “Our customer has stuck with us, relating to our mission to lead a colorful life and inspire others to do the same.“
That sense of community is being generated at the company’s flagship store, which just launched the “back porch.” It’s an open space uncluttered by clothing where women can hang out, craft, read or just breathe.
Conversely, Coldwater Creek’s attempt to reconnect with its core customer, “the new 50,” went bust. The retailer filed for bankruptcy earlier this summer.
The reason? According to a company statement, “Failure to find fashions that resonated with customers and weak consumer spending.”
Dove has been resonating with women for years. The “Real Beauty” campaign, which launched a decade ago, is a hallmark in advertising for featuring “real women” across all age groups just as they are, “flaws” and all.
More recently, Dove’s award-winning “Sketches” campaign focused on a truth most women recognize: We are tougher on ourselves about our looks than others.
By recognizing this, Dove further endeared itself as the celebrator of overlooked beauty, lines and all.
“I’ve often made the point that, while women may wish they looked younger, they actually respect the lessons of real life more than the inexperience of youth,” said Stephen Reily, founder-CEO, Vibrant Nation, an online community for women 45-plus.
As online shopping has skyrocketed, boomer women are helping to drive the trend.
Vibrant Nation reports that boomers purchase beauty products online more than any other single distribution channel. And when online, boomers seek multiple touch points, beyond an official website, to validate that the brand is more than a flash in the pan. Positive reviews by other women trump all.
For those messages you can control, diversify your messages for each generation so they don’t fall flat.
So what can we learn from those brands that put wisdom before age?
- Tap into a relatable, universal truth that shows you get her.
- Make it easy for her, whether in the retail environment, online or in the product selection.
- Create content beyond your website, including reviews, ratings, videos, testimonials, that validate the brand.
- Deftly bridge generations with personalized messages.
Oh, and did I mention that Sandra Bullock turns 50 on July 26? Enough said.
Maria Reitan is president and Chief Strategy Officer (CSO)of Lola Red PR. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the June 30, 2014 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.