Look better, not younger

Posted on January 11, 2016 by Eleanor McKenzie
Mature woman

Women over 50 are considered to be ‘influencers’ and cash-rich ones at that. I’m sure that there are many women in the UK who aren’t feeling particularly wealthy or influential, but according to market research, you are, especially when it come to buying cosmetics.

UK women spend how much on face creams?

Did you know that British women over the age of 45 spend £2 billion every year on cosmetics, skincare and toiletries. There are around 12 million women aged 45 to 75 in the UK, which means we’re spending about £167 each if you average it out. I’ve been out shopping with friends who’ve spent that in one trip, but they do claim that the products last them longer than the less expensive creams. I suppose I’ll buy that! If you want to know who does buy the really expensive stuff, stake out your nearest La Prairie stockist.

We’re anti anti-ageing

Anyway, the upshot of all this spending is that we now have clout in the beauty industry, and instead of them telling us what we ought to be putting on our faces or wherever, we are telling them what we want in terms of products, and how we want the products positioned in marketing terms; this is where it gets interesting, particularly if you have an interest in advertising. Women over 45 want the words ‘anti-ageing’ removed from product descriptions and catapulted into outer space. Why? Because, according to leading facial filler provider Juvederm, 41% of British women want to look radiant, rather than younger.

The ageless woman

Unfortunately, the majority of the cosmetics brands are somewhat hard of hearing and only a small handful have responded to research findings and to what their customers are saying. One brand that is taking women seriously is Origins, part of the Estée Lauder group. They have adopted a strategy that talks about “the ageless woman.”

In advertising terms this translates into a new vocabulary. Take Origins’ Three Part Harmony cream: The key strapline is “Age Before Beauty. Not Anymore.” The cream is then described as “nourishing’ and for “renewal, repair and radiance.”  There’s no mention of removing fine lines, signs of ageing, wrinkles or plumping up your skin to regain its youthful state. They’ve clearly taken the message about wanting to look “radiant” from the Juvederm research, because there it is in the advert.

According to Origins’ marketing manager for the UK the brand profiles women over 45 as wanting to “live a healthy and adventurous life.” She sees this woman as “making the most of her free time and treating her beauty routine as a moment of pampering that helps her achieve lifestyle goals.”

I shall be recommending this brand to my friend Cathy who surmised that she might be spending more on cosmetics because she has more “things” to cover up; but I suspect it’s because she has more money to spend these days and feels she can treat herself to better quality products.

Another brand that gets what women want is White Hot Hair. I have to say that this brand actually makes me wish I had grey hair. The glamorous models with stylish grey or white hair of all lengths look amazing and I love one of their tweets which said: “They’re not grey hairs, they’re glitter strands.” And, one of their brand statements that also gets the thumbs up from moi is “Beauty Ages Beautifully.”

This new way of thinking about age and beauty is supported by writer Ceri Wheeldon, author of the blog Fab After Fifty who welcomes the fact that brands are catching on to the new thinking among women who don’t buy the anti-ageing approach, but instead “embrace our age in every area of our lives, including the way we look.”

As Ceri also points out, we know that a pot of cream isn’t going to miraculously turn the clock back no matter how often it claims to do that. Part of the problem is that some marketing departments are staffed by people of 30 and under who think that ‘wrinkle-free’ surely must be what everyone aspires to.

Listen up youngsters in marketing – women aged 50+ want to see images that reflect the best of the way we can look at this age, not some airbrushed face that belongs to somebody 10 to 20 years younger. Please take note that many women in this age group are having the best time of their lives; we’re feeling confident, we have time and money, and we feel young inside. I hope you’ve got the message now – we want to look better, not younger!

by Eleanor McKenzie

Eleanor McKenzie is a Northern Irish writer with a passion for art, literature, and red wine. She's worked at advertising agency JWT, edited a journal for a European social policy think tank and tried to teach teenagers the difference between "there" and "their". Being 50+ has not significantly changed Eleanor's life, although she finds it a handy excuse when she wants to avoid anything too energetic.