Women over 45 in the UK spend an annual sum of £2 billion on cosmetics, skincare products and toiletries, and the purchasing power of these cash-rich women is expected to increase in the decades to come.
With this spending power comes considerable influence and women in this demographic are using it to do something remarkable: get the beauty industry to sit up and take notice of what we want.
And what we want is for the ‘anti-ageing’ descriptor used to sell skincare and beauty products to be banished to a far corner of the earth for ever more, and for more intelligent marketing, speaking to our desires, to take its place.
When Juvederm, one of the leading fillers in the UK, conducted a survey, it found that 41 per cent of British women want to look “radiant” rather than “younger”. A few brands are starting to get it right.
The founder of skincare brand Merumaya, Maleka Dattu, has made a video talking about her #beautyhasnoage message, and the need for us all to get behind this as an attitude, culturally and personally.
Origins, which is part of the Estée Lauder group of companies, has been one of the frontrunners to tap into what women in their 50s really want.
Joanne Brunwin, Origins’ marketing manager in the UK, says: “(Today’s) ageless woman… has a desire to live healthfully and adventurously. Today’s ageless woman is taking advantage of her free time and making the most of it. These women see their beauty and beauty routine as a moment of pampering that helps achieve their lifestyle goals.”
While Origins’ marketing to the “ageless” woman is a step in the right direction, other large beauty companies are slower to make changes to their own brands. In fact, it is the more niche companies that are showing they know what 50+ consumers want.
White Hot Hair is a haircare line specifically for grey or white hair. It markets its products with gorgeous models, all with grey hair, and leaves you in no doubt that this is a brand that is loud and proud about grey hair.
Stratum C is a range of skincare products for menopausal skin, which uses active ingredients to address the key needs of older skin. Studio 10 is a make-up range with texture, pigment and colour all formulated specifically for older skin. It is becoming a cult beauty product.
Merumaya focuses on “ageing youthfully” rather than “anti-ageing”. Yet at the same time they feel forced to still use that horrible phrase because that’s what people search for, and of course they need to be found.
Ceri Wheeldon, author of the blog Fab After Fifty, says: “I welcome the fact that some brands are waking up to the fact that far from being ‘anti-ageing’ we are embracing our age in every area of our lives – including how we look.
“We want to be sold to intelligently. We know that a pot of cream will not turn back time and give us the skin of a 20-year-old, but we do want products that enhance our skin as it is today. We want well-hydrated, even-toned, nourished skin with a healthy glow.
“We want marketing campaigns showing real women with realistic results – not Photoshopped images! We are far too savvy for that.”
Brands that continue to rely on marketing departments staffed by people in their twenties, pushing out messages of what they think women in their fifties should look like, stand to alienate a very profitable customer base.
Not only are we cash-rich, we are also smart, and we don’t take kindly to the media and advertising industry still wanting to subject us to pressure to look a certain way.
Second, and most importantly, many of us feel we’re at our best age yet. Confidence in women often grows with the years, and we navigate life on our own terms as our life experience increases.
Our laughter lines are emblems of the comfort we feel in our own skin and we want to look the very best versions of ourselves as we are now, not the image of some model that is unattainable.
Each decade of life comes with its challenges – and its benefits – and our fifties, and subsequent decades, are no different. Brands who cotton on to the fact that they should be speaking to our desire for new experiences, drive, confidence and love of our lives as we have built them over the years stand to be rewarded with a demographic who will be intensely loyal.
Ceri speaks for all women when she says: “We have money to spend, and will invest in products that address our needs and sell to us in way that we see ourselves… ageless.”