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Are You Using Outdated Stereotypes to Market to ‘Middle Aged’ Women?

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Are You Using Outdated Stereotypes to Market to ‘Middle Aged’ Women?

I’m 46, and I don’t feel ‘middle aged’; I feel as though I’m just coming into my prime.

Since turning 40, I’ve become an international speaker, launched two businesses, written a best-selling book and am planning a move to New York in the next decade. I feel as though I’m living a very different ‘middle aged’ life to the generations before me and it seems many women my age agree.

A recent study of more than 500 women by UK based marketing agency, SuperHuman, found that 96% of women over 40 didn’t associate with being middle aged either, yet marketing to women my age is aimed at an old concept of what being middle aged means.

So why are brands failing us so badly?

Why can’t you see me?

My marketing and research consultancy recently undertook a study of more than 1,800 Australian mums and found that 63% of Australian mums believe advertisers don’t understand them. It is no surprise that the mothers over 40 felt the most misunderstood.

Despite controlling more than 80% of consumer spending, mums feel outdated stereotypes are being used by brands which completely turns them off.

Brands are doing more harm than good, repelling the very women they are trying to attract.

I refer to women in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s as ‘The Invisible Women’. They are at their peak of economic power often managing the finances of ageing parents as well as teenagers or kids not yet willing to leave home. Despite this, they feel completely overlooked by marketers.

Last year I spent time in New York with my 60-something aunty who has lived there most of her life. She is a vibrant woman with a decorated career in administration for a well-known broadcaster. She remains very active and hosts a regular Saturday night dinner party for up to twenty people. Each day we trawled the shops all over the city and each day came home empty-handed.

Why? Fashion generally caters for women of a much younger demographic. She rarely visited retail stores of any kind as there was never anything to buy. Instead, she focuses her spending now on experiences, particularly travel. What a missed opportunity for marketers.

What do brands need to do?

Get real. Explore the opportunity by investing resources into getting to know who older women are as consumers, what motivates them and how they like to communicate. Their use of social media and preferred communications might surprise you. Primary research will be critical to your success.

A shining light.

There are some wonderful rays of sunshine out there though for those brands who can see the opportunity women of our age represent. I was at a Lingerie Fashion Show in Sydney for a client in January and was impressed to see a great diversity in their choice of models.

I was beyond delighted to see a woman in her late 40’s strutting her stuff in the latest Intimo Spring Summer Collection with a few wobbles.

I applaud Intimo for their courage and conviction, and I am confident they will be rewarded with increased revenue for taking a more realistic, relatable approach.

In a marketing environment which is increasingly competitive, it seems like women over 40 years are a missed opportunity.

I encourage marketers and business owners to be courageous and make changes to their marketing strategies and communications and to launch new products based on their newfound insights. There are thousands of women out there who have got your back and are willing to reward your actions.

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