Marketing to the Power of the Purse Consumer
[Series 3: “THE GOLDEN AGE”]
They are wealthy, healthy, active, educated and perhaps the most influential generation of women in history.
BY JUSTINE P. CASTELLON
Everybody knew that women are the new darlings of marketers because of the power of their purse. Whether they’re a tween, a teen, or the powerful thirty something – they are considered the new CPOs (chief purchasing officers). In my previous installments for the SHE-CONOMY – Marketing to the Ultimate Power Consumer, it easier to describe women, however I am at a loss to define the consumer over age 50. Using the terms middle-aged, senior citizen or even mature market carried unappealing overtones. It also implies to senior discounts at supermarket counters and drugstores, which are unattractive to both marketers and retailers. So I have to find words that will capture a personality that is positive and dynamic so marketers can turn this silver catch into gold.
Let me introduce you to Wise Women – the prime ladies from 50 to 70 years old. They’re the Baby Boomers that drove the growth of hula hoops, bell bottoms and personal computers. Their generation witnessed and participated in some of the greatest social changes in history. They witnessed the dawn of space exploration, accessibility to long-distance travel, and the age of the computer, mobile communications and the World Wide Web. They’ve seen the explosion of communication in radio, television and telephone. No wonder, their wisdom remains unmatched.
Wise Women are wealthy, healthy, active, educated and perhaps the most influential generation of women in history. These women are at the peak of their careers and are enjoying the highest earning power of their lives. This is opposing to the belief that they’re gearing toward early retirement. They have much higher net worth due to appreciation they have captured in the value of their homes, which they have generally owned longer than younger households have owned theirs. Moreover, they don’t spend on their children’s needs and education.
So, if over-50 market are spending up big, why does the marketing business still behave as though the Justin Timberlake fan club occupies the commanding heights of trade? Because marketers are stuck in the stereotypes of a former day where women these age were trapped in their homes and tending to their grandchildren. With the rise of Internet when information is a mouse-click away, healthier diet, and advances in healthcare and lifestyles – we’re all living longer and more active.
Being a Wise Women is a major life shift from being in a “mom-mode” to “me-mode”. “It’s finally ‘my time’, and they make the most out of it, pursuing old passions, exploring new ones, spending more time with their friends, and seeking out ways to give back. They feel lucky to have the luxury of focusing on themselves, finding their inner individuality, and fulfilling long-suppressed dreams. For women, 50 open new doors, presenting vistas of endless possibility, “ writes Marti Barletta, author of Marketing to Women
WHAT’S ON HER MIND?
If you are marketers seeking to engage the Wise Women, you have to set the bar a little higher. Wise Women are happier, more satisfied and more fulfilled than ever before. They travelled to more places, tasted more food, kissed more lovers, laugh more, and cried more. They have loved and lost. They have experienced more of the bumps and bounces in life. They’re more confident about their place in the world and their perspectives are better. So forget about the cranky ladies that were usually stereotyped in the media. Take a note that physical changes happen gradually and don’t substantially affect these ladies until they’re in their 70s. Most of the physical adjustments are relatively minor which they’ve already accepted, adjusted and figured out how to deal with them.
Yes, they experience mid-life crisis but feel energised, liberated and excited about the future. They put emphasis on learning for personal growth to keep up with what’s going on in the world. For women, intimate friendship have always been important but they become even more in their second half life. They now have time to get together with their amigas or girlfriends more often than when they’re younger. They’re in continuous search for significance in life and leaving a legacy. They’re more spiritual as reflected in their involvement in religious activities
HOW TO WIN THE HEART, MIND AND BUSINESS?
Most marketing communications agencies struggle to find the good shot in crafting marketing campaigns for the audience aged 50 and over in the past 20 years. A couple of times they presented communication brief that specifies the target audience almost certainly be for financial services, holidays or products specifically aimed at older women, such as adult diaper, cooking ingredients and other healthcare products. We have all been young and can easily relate to the concept of youth and what it represents, but we have never been old and it’s almost impossible to comprehend what it is like to be older. So, it’s no surprise that the majority of stereotypes about the women over 50s come from the incredibly young media and advertising developers.
Marketers who understand the psychographics and the new dynamics of the Wise Women market have more leverage in tapping the business opportunities
When developing positioning for the Wise Women target, the big break is to go beyond functional benefits to focus on the emotional benefits. It’s not about what the product does, but how it makes them feel. For example, when you position your travel agency, focus on how it makes her feel to travel – confident, excited and ready to discover and explore the world -, instead of safety in travelling. Center your positioning on experiences that are emotionally fuelled.
Products & Presentations
As people age, they need products that help them stay engaged. Yes, they want anti-wrinkle creams, do-it-yourself makeover, easy-to-prepare meals, vacation packages, and even volunteer works. The products should be simple, but quality is critical. Remember that this target market want to leave the world a better place and are willing to pay a little more to improve the planet for their children and grandchildren.
When presenting your product, present the human benefits, not the product features. Offer options but limit this to two selections, because “purchase process is shorter and simpler now – with the pros and cons of each, so she can feel that she has a comprehensive grasp of specifics and has done due diligence”, excerpts from the book The PrimeTIme Women. Sure, good customer service, user-friendly websites, targeted marketing, and sleek design packaging are appreciated, but making sure these elements come together in a way that doesn’t make the consumer feel old is crucial in presenting your products.
Public Relations & Advertising
Presence of a creative visual component is the most effective example of advertising for Wise Women. Like a tagline, using an image to continually reinforce your brand is a great way to make a long-term impact on them. In writing your press materials, use story telling and anecdotes. Build commonality with them by sharing secrets and surprises that make them feel “she’s like me”. Capture their emotions and feelings. Remember that Wise Women are searching for the perfect answer and will be doing due diligence, so it is best to use expert testimonials and credentials
Promotions to Drive Sales
It’s time to think outside the box when you create your loyalty programs, rewards and discounts. Engage the principle of storytelling, girlfriends, and responsiveness to make it more compelling. Offer experiences as incentives instead of products and price discounts such as free spa services or makeover instead of a free bottle of extra perfume for bulk purchases. Give the gift to their girlfriends or amigas – something they can share together to motivate them to try your products and services. A cause marketing drive is also one area that you should work on with them like Fun Run to save planet earth or medical missions. Again, they’re actively looking for ways to make the world a better place and leave a legacy.
Interactivity and Internet Marketing
Younger generations have a tendency to look down their noses at their elders when it comes to computer and internet. Don’t forget that Wise Women grew up with computers and their generation created them. They use the internet specifically for connectivity and creating community. They often connect with family members and friends via email and photo sharing sites, webcams or Facetime. They also adapt to online and comparison-shopping because it’s more convenient. Because of their passion to learn new things, the internet gives them wider venue for research
Community and Connections
For Wise Women, creating a sense of community and connecting are important. Remember, they’re experiencing major life changes, so belonging to a definable group is important. Create a community that enables them to connect with others who share their values and beliefs. Preferred shopper or savings clubs are two of the many methods that you can develop to join people together – more you are able to link people together with similar interests and goals, the more consumers of this market will take note of what you are offering.
So, head’s up, marketers! Don’t miss the boat and the opportunity because you’re trapped in an outdated stereotyping of women age above 50. Don’t make the tragic mistake of thinking of this opportunity applies only to the conventional thoughts of senior categories such as hearing aids, medicines, fiber products, or adult diapers. It’s time to understand who they really are and what they’re capable of – with their varying attitudes and perspectives on health, beauty, achievement and what ‘s truly important. Forget old-school thinking, marketing to them requires a fresh approach. Note that they are well-positioned to dominate the consumer landscape, and the sooner you adapt and revitalize your marketing approach, the more chance you’ll hit the gold mine.
Other Marketing to the Power of the Purse Consumer Series:
WHAT WOMEN WANT? [Series 1: “30 SOMETHINGS”]
TWEENING THE GIRL POWER [Series 2: “TWEEN GIRLS”]
THE WISE WOMEN [Series 3: “THE GOLDEN AGE”]
BESTIES & SELFIES [Series 4: “TEEN GIRLS”]
GENERATION Y NOT [Series 5: “20 SOMETHING”]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Justine Castellon is an independent brand strategist, a business writer and founder of The Market Place 2.1 and Company. She provides creative thinking and interpretation of consumer and market insights. You may reach her Justine.firstname.lastname@example.org | Follow her at www.twitter.com/marketplace21