Older Women: What Makes the In-Store Beauty Shopping Experience a Turn-Off


Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been investigating what's going wrong in the beauty industry when it comes to targeting older women. My conclusions came fromexclusive new research for our upcoming report which showed that:

  • Brands are unaware that using anti-ageing terminology is a turn-off for women over 45.

  • Older women are not stuck in a time warp and want to try new beauty brands and products.

  • A significant minority of women over 45 are turning to niche brands, because they have a better understanding of their needs.

And Now to Shopping

We discovered that older women love to shop for cosmetics, but most are reluctant to engage with the sales staff. The majority prefer to browse on their own.

Digging deeper, we found that this older age group feel uncomfortable being served by much younger beauty consultants. Mostly, they disliked consultants’ lack of regard for what might be suitable for them and an insistence on pushing the latest launch or promotion.

One of our respondents, aged 62, said the following: “I prefer to have someone 40 upwards serve me. I have to be convinced they know what they are talking about than just selling the product.”

Making Browsing Work For You

Many older women prefer to look for products by themselves, but it can be a daunting task. Faced with aisles of generic-looking products, how can they discern what’s best for their age group and, specifically, for them?Product claims tend to be similar, often using pseudo-scientific words designed to baffle all but the most clued-up consumers. What is LR 2412 (Lancôme Visionnaire) and Tri-HA Cell Signalling Complex™ (Estée Lauder), and what do they do?

Reading the small print can also be a real challenge. And it’s not always the size of the font that is a problem –a pale font against a white background can render print unreadable, even to those forced to resort to reading glasses.

Here are a few practical solutions on how to help older women make the correct brand choices in-store:

  • Arrange skincare products so that it’s easy for an older woman to see what is relevant for her (it would also help the sales assistant who isn’t sure which products to recommend)

  • Consultants to run through a short questionnaire to understand older women’s needs and help identify the right products

  • Clear signage on the skincare/haircare fixtures to guide consumers to make the right product choice

  • Believable product claims clearly stated in a readable font (preferably black or dark blue) on the front of the pack

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Quick fixes that will help build trust with older shoppers and help them to become more confident in their purchases. What’s needed now is a new mindset.

If beauty brands are to take full advantage of the growing opportunity older women represent, they must put themselves in the shoppers' shoes and start producing experiences that are tailored to this group’s needs.

In our forthcoming report, you can discover more examples of what older women find frustrating when shopping for beauty plus recommendations on how to put it right.