Older Women: How to Inspire Beauty Purchase In-Store

Nikki Taylor

Nikki Taylor

Nikki Taylor knows a thing or two about selling beauty products to older women having worked at the sharp end of retailing with the largest luxury brands in fragrance, skincare and make-up.

Today, she runs her own brand consultancy, Taylor Made Beauty, working with beauty brands, distributors, retailers and broadcaster QVC. She is also a beauty expert for Fighting Fifty, the website for women over 50.

I recently caught up with Nikki to find out her views on the beauty industry’s attitude towards this growing and valuable demographic.

What changes have you seen over the years you’ve worked with beauty brands to suggest they are targeting older women?

Without doubt, brands are now catering for more mature clients with the products they are creating and some are aimed specifically at the 40 plus consumer. We have also recently seen a few brands using more mature models for their in-store visuals e.g. Nars with Charlotte Rampling and MAC with Brooke Shields.However, one of the major complaints that has arisen from these campaigns is how much these women have been airbrushed to make them look younger. I believe that both brands and publications will always carry out this procedure as they see these “tweaked” images as more aspirational.

Shortly, IMA will be publishing exclusive consumer research into older women’s usage and behaviour in a new report. The data indicates that women over 45 do not think there are enough sales assistants their age. Is providing older sales assistants the answer to reaching this demographic?

Yes, I believe brands and retailers should look at recruiting consultants that mirror the demographic of their customer. More importantly, training should be provided in-store to understand their concerns and also the approach and service they require.

So why don’t more brands have older sales assistants?I believe there are several blocks to this issue.Some retailers will only “store approve” a younger consultant as they want that image in that store. Also flexibility in working hours for an older consultant could be important to fit round their family etc.

I do not see that this should ever be a problem nowadays as retailers open extended hours. Finally, the beauty industry needs to do more to promote and develop their people so that retail and beauty are seen as legitimate careers.

There should be clear career paths not only for someone wishing to develop into a business role or a more creative path such as a make-up artist or trainer.

Going back to the consumer, we’ve found that nearly 50% continue to enjoy shopping for beauty products in-store but the vast majority prefer to browse on their own. This is a real missed opportunity as we know that when you engage with shoppers you are more likely to make a sale. Why do you think this is?

I believe this is because many customers feel that the consultant would sell them something that isn’t relevant or wouldn’t fully understand their needs.

We need to remember that retail is a service industry and a friendly and approachable manner is key for all consultants. Brands need to train their consultants, but not only on product.

Training should cover service, customer approach, different ages, different genders and different skin tones. Also in-store layout and stands must be consumer-friendly.

Do you have a view on how the beauty industry can better target older consumers? Let us know in the comments section below.