Women Over 50 are Back in the Limelight


Ever since the publication of my report, Older Women: The Forgotten Demographic, in 2012, the disregard with which women over 50 are treated by the beauty industry has rarely been out of the news.

Today, I will be leading a CEW Mentoring session with Tricia Cusden, founder of Look Fabulous Forever and Jane Atherton, founder of Phytomone.This session was born out of my new report, Older Women in Beauty: The Golden Opportunity. It’s bringing this important issue back into focus - it represents a real opportunity to connect with women working for beauty brands, retailers and media who need to find out how they can capitalise on this lucrative demographic.

Why now?

I’ve frequently been asked: “Has anything changed since your last report?”

It was time to update the 2012 findings and publish a new report with fresh research to discover if anything has changed.

Older Women in Beauty: The Golden Opportunity goes further than the original in determining what women think about choosing, shopping, buying and using beauty products. From the results, we have been able to provide insightful and usable recommendations on how beauty companies can profit from the enormous untapped potential this demographic can offer.Here’s a summary of older women’s views about beauty in 2012:

  • They do not find that beauty ads are relevant to their age group

  • Anti-ageing is not the issue: their main priority is skin comfort, not erasing lines and wrinkles

  • One of their biggest annoyances is small print they cannot read without reading glasses – especially when in the shower

  • In-store beauty consultants are young and do not understand the needs of older women

So, has anything changed?

The May issue of SPC this month suggests there is a change taking place and runs a feature entitled, “50-plus beauty comes of age”.

Jayne Mayled, founder of White Hot Hair, raises an important point: “When you think about women in their 50s and beyond, it is no surprise they are still blazing their own trail today when we remember they are the Baby Boomers who have lived through the eclectic, non-conformist decades of the 60s and 70s. It is perhaps thanks to this vibrant spirit that 2015 seems to be a tipping point in attitudes towards ageing and women.”

Jayne nails it when she says: “We’re all getting older and just because we hit a certain milestone doesn’t mean we suddenly don’t want to look and feel good any more.”

The biggest discernible change in the beauty industry is that some of the bigger brands now employ age appropriate models e.g. Helen Mirren for L’Oreal Paris and Charlotte Rampling for NARS.But this does not go far enough…Still older women are frustrated by the same issues that bothered them in 2012, such as:

  • The focus on anti-ageing that is still rife with little regard for older women’s real skincare concerns.

  • Even brands which target the over 50s use tiny font sizes in packaging and leaflets.

  • The beauty halls continue to be dominated by young beauty consultants who, with the best will in the world, do not understand what an older consumer wants from beauty products.

Now for the positives:

  • In the absence of any big company initiatives, niche beauty brands are moving in and providing age-appropriate products that give older consumers confidence and make them feel more youthful, but do not claim to knock years off their age.

  • The growth of social media is a boon for brands targeting this age group e.g. instructional videos used by make-up brands Studio 10 and Look Fabulous Forever.

  • Studio 10 has signed a contract to sell its products in M&S. It may be a signal for change, but we must remember that M&S is a niche player amongst the giants which still do not put older women at the heart of their strategies.

Older Women in Beauty: Still a Work in Progress

Find out more about what this important demographic thinks about beauty and how you can take advantage of the opportunity here.

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Cover photo by Rod Waddington