Article

Sue Benson
Sue Benson 11 December 2023
Categories Advertising, B2C, Research

Marketeers Are Still Failing Midlife Women - Here's How to Harness Their Spending Power

Women aged 45-60 are still being ignored, overlooked and misrepresented by advertisers according to a new in-depth study which found that 69 per cent of midlife women feel invisible to brands. But this audience has huge spending power – Forbes has dubbed them super consumers and they make or influence 90% of household budgetary decisions in the U.K.

How then can brands get it right when it comes to engaging this audience?

A new report has revealed a deepening lack of understanding of one of the most powerful consumer groups in the UK today – and to be honest it doesn’t surprise me.

When it comes to women aged 45-60, marketeers are guilty of getting it wrong time and again – pigeonholing them into a menopausal bracket, offering ‘solutions’ to ageing – rather than embracing it and using young models to promote midlife products.

Out of the women surveyed in the ‘Marketing to Midlife Women’ report - 69 per cent of women aged 45-60 feel invisible to advertisers. Whilst 62 per cent think that ads rarely show someone that they can relate to.

More than half (54 per cent) think that adverts target their insecurities and almost three quarters (72 per cent) believe that ads are setting unrealistic beauty standards for women in their age bracket. 75 per cent think that adverts focus too much on physical appearance over wellbeing.

In fact you could say that things are going backwards. More than a year ago a study was published which found that nearly half of women aged 45-60 feel invisible – today this has edged even higher; with more than two thirds feeling that they are totally forgotten or represented in a negative stereotypical way.

And yet there is so much opportunity for brands to champion women in this demographic. For example, it may surprise you to learn that 43 per cent of women think that the menopause has inspired them to change their lifestyle in good ways.

Championing Change

A deeper understanding of what this audience is going through can create opportunities - marketeers can't afford to ignore the potential.

While the midlife women cohort is extremely diverse, change is a universal theme that defines them – from change in personal circumstances (divorce, career changes, children leaving home, and caring for elderly relatives etc) and physical and hormonal changes (due to the menopause), to attitudinal changes to life in general.

Alongside these changes comes a natural shift in shopping behaviours as consumers seek out new products, solutions and habits to suit a new outlook or physical appearance. There is massive potential for brands to tap into this spending power and aptitude to find new solutions – if targeted correctly.

The stats show that 42 per cent of midlife women have changed their diets or are buying more nutritional food; more than a third (36 per cent) have changed their skin and haircare products; 35 per cent are now exercising more and a further 35 per cent have bought new clothing to suit their changing body shape.

Menopause

Naturally the menopause is a significant factor in these women’s lives – but they don’t want it to define them, something which many brands are guilty of.

Women are calling out for menopause-related products and communications to be addressed more subtly, focusing on solutions rather than labelling everything as “for menopause.” This can come across as pigeonholing, alienating or feeling like a brand is jumping on the bandwagon.

And when it comes to information – they are being overloaded. The tables have quickly turned in terms of the amount of information on the menopause available to women and it is beginning to feel overwhelming.

41 per cent of women said that it is hard to work out what information is useful or relevant. There is a feeling of being bombarded with information – with ads and content following them around social media.

Interestingly it is friends and family (41 per cent) who women most trust for information on the menopause, with health and wellbeing retailers like Boots and Holland and Barratt (26 per cent) factoring higher than medical professionals (18 per cent) and celebrities known for this subject (12 per cent).

YOLO

For many midlife women this new chapter signals a new outlook to life and brands need to be ready to harness it. Midlife brings about an awakening, where personal needs take precedence, alongside a greater understanding of the value of the present and the importance of fulfilment.

For some, watching once strong parents become frail or die has jolted them into the realisation that you only live once, life is for living, grab those chances with both hands.

Markeeters need to start tapping into this YOLO zest for life. Less of the ‘woe is me’ and more of showcasing how their brand can give these women the lift, excitement and newness that they are craving.

Turning the Tide

We are living through a time of unprecedented, rapid social change. Women are not having the midlife experience of their mothers, and the experiences of the generations to follow are just as likely to be different again.

It is becoming clear that to keep up with the changing needs and behaviours of this group as an industry we need to massively step up our listening, learning, narrative and campaigns.

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