Women of the baby boomer generation represent one of the most affluent portions of the buying public. With more financial empowerment than any generation of women before them, and the spending power to match, why is it that so many industries overlook them? Meghna Bali explores…
Fellow luxury brand Saint Laurent followed suit with a pensive ad of a 71-year-old Joni Mitchell. The trend was cemented when Kate Spade, Alexis Bittar and Blue Illusion shone the spotlight on the inimitable Iris Apfel, who turned 94 this year.
But age and chic weren’t the only common denominators between these stars and the iconic brands they represented. In an industry obsessed with millennials, these brands were pulling in a market of wealthy, mature women.
These fashion campaigns slashed the stereotype that mature women couldn’t be sexy and had to dress younger to be attractive. They also brought to light the economic potential of the over 60s female market.
In a report released by Silverfox MGMT – Australia’s first agency to exclusively represent models over 30 – it was revealed that there are 1.9 million Australian women over 65, who not only show a growing propensity to look stylish and shop fashion, but wield the spending power to match. Roy Morgan research shows 65.3 per cent of this demographic try to look stylish and just over 40 per cent consider themselves to be medium to big spenders.
Catching up with evolution
To understand the influence of these trailblazing ad campaigns Ben Barry, founding director of the Centre for Fashion Diversity & Social Change, argues:
The general assumption that models are merely “clothes hangers” is rather pervasive in the multi-billion-dollar fashion industry, but they play a much more influential role: They are the bridge between the consumer and the brand. They not only demonstrate how clothes fit and flatter the human body but also convey a brand’s image and identity. Most important, they breathe movement and vitality into clothes—transforming static garments into three-dimensional creations.
With a PhD in marketing from the University of Cambridge, Barry found the intention to spend increased by 200 per cent for women over 35 when they saw older models. Likewise, their intent to purchase decreased by 64 per cent when models did not reflect their age.
“Marketing needs to catch up with the social evolution that women are influencers and that we prefer to be connected to, in a different way than we’ve all been taught to market,” explained marketing to women pioneer Bec Brideson, in a recent episode of The CMO Show. “Marketing has to evolve in the same way that women have evolved.”
Instead of assuming that their audience wants to look younger, or using anti-buzzwords like “senior” and “elderly”, clever fashion brands understand that many female consumers over 60 would rather celebrate their age than disguise it.
Models such as Carmen Dell’Orefice, 83, and Daphne Selfe, 85, have starred in widely successful luxury brand campaigns by Dolce & Gabbana and Thierry Mugler, with their flowing silver hair and laugh lines intact.
Stepping off the catwalk
Beauty and fashion aren’t the only industries that can profit from more insightful marketing. Apple encourages interaction and purchase of their products by offering free in-store workshops. Popular with older adults, the hour-long sessions cover the basics of how to best utilise the company’s flagship devices and apps for their specific needs.
Pillboxie is another stellar example. Created by Jared Sinclair in 2011, the purpose of the IOS app is to manage medication in a less tedious way. For just $2.99 the app allows users to input the colour, type and schedule of medication they require; users are then reminded to take them throughout the day – no Internet required.
Fitbit has also gained momentum in the baby boomer market. “Users from baby boomers to millennials have found functions for Fitbit fitness trackers and may even use the same product for different reasons,” said Global Marketing VP Tim Rosa in the International Business Times.
According to statistics on their website, the Fitbit is mostly used by baby boomers while biking, running, swimming, gardening and strength training.
These tech and fitness campaigns work well in attracting women over 60 by appealing to their needs and desires as opposed to telling them what they should want because of their age. In a similar way, luxury fashion brands celebrating older models encourage women to get creative with their style.
Regardless of your industry, the lesson is clear: Marketers can no longer afford to ignore, or forget, this demographic.