Mature Women


Mature Women

The Mature market demographic spans thirty years or more, a huge group that deserves your undivided attention. While people age 50 and older (about 81 million strong) account for only 28 percent of the population, they represent nearly 50 percent of total consumer demand, 65 percent of total net worth and 70 percent of all personal financial assets. [18] And, with some 31 million of the Baby Boomers we just discussed having already turned fifty by 2003, we have all the more incentive to learn to serve aging consumers well.

As women mature (and in direct contrast to younger consumers), they realize their economic power, get more active, and let go of more of their cares. They are waiting much longer to retire and have figured out what they need to do to keep feeling ten to fifteen years younger .

Within the vast Mature market, diverse attitudes and behaviors abound. Separated by decades in some cases, members of this group were born in different time periods with their lives and attitudes shaped by distinct events ”from World War II to the postwar flight to the suburbs to the Beat movement and the Korean War (and you can throw in the phenomenon of Elvis Presley, too).

It would be inconceivable to stereotype anyone who was born and raised in this era. Rather, to best understand them and the way they may see the world and the brands they purchase, we have to thoroughly examine mindsets , life stages and lifestyles.

That said, Mature Americans can be broken into three different blocks that are defined roughly by age, with corresponding mindset and lifestyle factors, which include:

Pre-retirees (Ages 56 “65). This particular block of older Boomers and younger Matures has reached an empty-nesting stage and many have already become grandparents. Preretirees are still quite active and busy, but are starting to wind down and prepare for the next stage of their lives. Because many remain in the workforce, they continue to earn and consume . With responsibilities decreasing , more of the expenditures of people in this group can be self-directed and self- satisfying .

Active Retirees (Ages 66 “75). These women are living full lives that include plenty of recreation, travel, friendships, adult education, grandparenting, hobbies and business interests. However, many are also beginning to experience health issues that need to be actively managed.

Seniors (Age 76+). Although their pace of life has slowed considerably, due to a likely decline in physical health, many of these older adults are still interested in being social and using their minds. Others may have reached a stage in their lives where they no longer can live independently and so require the help of a caregiver. It's worth noting that the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population today includes those who are over age 85. [19]

MATURE WOMEN'S BUYING FILTERS

In addition to the specific age-ranges within the Mature segment, there are different sets of values, outside events, and levels of technology that influence their consumer behavior. Those non- mutually -exclusive categories can be described as follows :

Selectively indulgent. Women in this Mature market subgroup have lived in good economic times and many feel they have earned the right to indulge by buying top-quality or big-ticket items.

Aides and collaborators. Women of this era have given much time to volunteer efforts that have advanced women's rights and achieved other significant cultural benchmarks. They "have been pioneers in civil rights, consumer activism and feminism, but they have often gone unrecognized for these roles." [20]

Internet embracers. The Mature market, in general, is the fastest growing group on the Internet. Nielsen NetRatings found that from October 2002 to October 2003 the number of Matures 65 and older online surged 25 percent, to 9.6 million surfers ”representing 7 percent of the online population. [21] Industry estimates are that by 2010 about 70 percent of seniors will be using the Internet. [22] There seems to be boundless opportunity for reaching and serving these elder Internet enthusiasts .

Energetic and active. Medical advances have extended the length of middle age, and these women see themselves as vibrant and full of life, not old. "Aging" is a dirty word, so many of the women in this group regularly buy hair color and use products that safely overcome the typical body and health changes that come with the additional years.

REFLECTING MATURE WOMEN IN YOUR BRAND

If you want to reach these women of a "certain age," be careful to craft marketing messages that aren't overly trendy , but rather demonstrate an understanding of their position in life as grandparents, active travelers and high-energy learners. Speak to their lifestyle, not to their age.

start example

The great complaint by many older women is that, indeed, marketers seem to think that by the time you achieve senior status ”and in some movie theaters, that's 60! ”you've lost interest in clothing altogether.

”Tam Gray, founder and editor of Seniorwomen.com

end example
 

Furthermore, just as you should consider the ages of your marketing team when marketing to other generations of women, you also need to get the Mature perspective from within when you are trying to reach this older market. In its 2002 publication, Marketing to the 50-Plus Population , the editors at EPM Communications found that, "Young marketers are at a loss about how to target older adults, and so end up pitching their products to themselves, since it's what they know best." [23] So, a good thing to remember when building marketing teams to reach any segment is to make sure you are representative, however you can, of the demographic you seek.

Given the latter overarching guideline, there are a few common traits of Mature generation women that should be reflected in your brand, including that these women:

Look to experts. Unlike Boomers, these women respond more favorably to authority figures and value the opinions of industry experts. They tend to consult their doctors and look for seals of approval and other signs of official endorsement whenever they encounter an unfamiliar health concern, brand or industry.

Resent age- related adjectives. Descriptive terms like "golden" and "twilight" cause offense and are likely to miss the mark. Especially when the goal is to resonate with the women of the Mature market, a marketing message should address a certain value or interest instead of blindly speaking to an age range.

Build human connection via interactivity. Mature women appreciate being asked for feedback and like to feel as though they are part of a larger community.

Appreciate the personalized approach. Mature adults value feeling known and recognized, so it is worth the effort to customize a mass-market message, especially when delivered via e-mail or the Internet.

Use intuition and tap into emotion. Experts say that the way people process information changes as we age. As people get older, the intuitive and holistic thinking of the right brain begins to take precedence over the left brain's more linear and logical form of thinking. Given this change in brain processing, it may be most effective to reach Mature women by appealing to their emotions first, and then providing the data and facts about your product further along in their buying process.

Are focused on their life stage, not their age. In the decade between ages 50 and 60, people experience more life transitions ”like the birth of a grandchild, remarriage or the death of a parent ”than in any other decade of life. Going through such an intense transitional period brings about a strong focus on these matters, while the age filter fades even further into the background of their decision making.

Seek an enhanced, active lifestyle. With increases in free time and disposable income, older consumers look for products and services that will enhance their lifestyles and not those that prepare them for slowing down or settling in.

MATURES INDUSTRY STUDY: ACTIVE TRAVEL

The women of today's Mature market represent an enormous opportunity and challenge. Though they are aging, the women of this generation generally remain no less active. In fact, grandparents today are younger (the average age for becoming a grandparent for the first time is 47), wealthier and in better health today than at any time previously; and their spending is growing about 10 percent a year. [24] Enter, stage right, the active travel and tour industry.

From radio segments like Public Radio International's "Savvy Traveler " (part of PRI's Marketplace ) to retailers like TravelSmith and Web sites like Poshnosh.com and SeniorCycling.com, many businesses in the active travel industry have developed to serve mature travelers, the fastest growing group of consumers in this industry.

In fact, a 2000 study conducted by the Travel Industry Association found that Matures comprise nearly one-third of all U.S. travelers, and that these elder adventurers are wealthier, more educated and more technologically savvy than they had been even five years before. [25] Furthermore, Mature generation travelers stay on the road longer and tend to take longer trips (3.9 nights), compared with 3.4 nights on average for travelers overall.

In general, travelers who are age 55 and over are nearly twice as likely to participate in tours as those in other age groups. And, many of these active group travelers are women who have gained independence and become involved in more adventurous activities after the death of a spouse.

They may not match the mileage of their younger counterparts or sleep in tents, but Mature women tend to be in good shape and can enjoy themselves. In general, they have the money, energy and brainpower to take on new interests and to continue to enthusiastically engage in life. They look for trips that provide both intellectual stimulation and access to interesting people.

SavvyTraveler.org, the Web site companion to the "Savvy Traveler" segment on PRI's Marketplace , is an example of how to serve Mature generation women travelers well. In addition to providing audio versions of archived stories on exotic journeys or on the usual destinations but with a new twist, the Web site includes a library, a "Traveler's Aid" section (which covered how to avoid a rental car fiasco the day we checked it) and an extensive "Traveler's Toolbox." From maps to language tips to help with visas, passports and emergency services abroad (in addition to the usual information on planes, trains and travel agents ), this section on its own is a true resource. Though not presented as such, the information on SavvyTraveler.org with its simple and direct navigation speaks to a Mature generation's travel issues (without alienating any other market segment).

Other examples of companies that appeal to the Mature generation travel market are TravelSmith, a travelwear online and catalog retailer; SeniorCycling.com, a bike touring company geared toward the over-50 market; and Poshnosh.com, the Web site run by Senior Women's Travel that focuses on culinary experiences, literary connections (great writers and their relationships to each city), unique sightseeing and great shopping. (Where do we sign up?) Whether they specifically focus on women or not, these companies have all developed product lines or information resources delivered in ways that effectively serve Mature women travelers.

CONNECTING WITH MATURE WOMEN: LESSONS FROM THE TRAVEL INDUSTRY

Learning from the successes in the travel industry in effectively reaching women of the Mature generation can improve your marketing to this important demographic.

Prepare for a wide variety of interests. Mature travel consumers are no longer just calling the travel agent to book a cruise. They want to plan and explore the travel possibilities for themselves. They are heading online and considering options that might include active trips by bike, kayak and foot , or slightly more passive trips to evermore exotic places ”like the Galapagos Islands and Tibet. Mature women enjoy the whole process from pretrip research to the actual adventure, so travel-related companies should provide as many options, presented in as many different ways, as they can.

Deliver relevant images, content and testimonials. Relevance comes in many varieties, as these travel industry examples reflect: The Poshnosh.com site has packaged tours such as grandchild trips and family celebrations; and the SavvyTraveler.com "Tool Box" includes links and resources for getting along while you're there as well as a section on who to call to fix things that might go wrong (links to the U.S. Embassy directory and to the Centers for Disease Control are two examples).

Don't make assumptions. Knitting needles are rusting in their baskets as the Mature generation women of today take off to cycle the Italian countryside or explore Mexico with friends and companions. The travel-related companies and Web sites we mention have learned to see their market through the perspective of a thriving, life- experienced generation, many of whom are women. The destinations highlighted, the clothing presented and the resources listed therein show that the travel industry has been digging more deeply to discover and serve the needs and interests of its Mature generation travelers. And, it's gone way beyond the cruises, one- size -fits-all outfits and travel agent phone numbers of years past.

[18] See Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., http://www.agewave.com/presentations.shtml.

[19] Tips and Facts: A Handbook to Reaching the 50+ Market , The Business Forum on Aging, http://www.asaging.org/bfa/index.html.

[20] Lisa Finn, editor, All About Women Consumers (New York: EPM Communications, Inc., 2001), http://www.epmcom.com.

[21] Cited in Robyn Greenspan, "Senior Surfing Surges," November 20, 2003, in "The Big Picture Demographics" on http://www.internet.com. Also see http://www.nielsen-netratings.com.

[22] Cited by Tam Gray, CEO and founder, Seniorwomen.com, "Who We Are," http://www.seniorwomen.com/aboutus.html.

[23] Marsha Cohen, editor, Marketing to the 50-Plus Population , http://www.epmcom.com.

[24] Ibid.

[25] The Mature Traveler: 2000 Edition (Washington, D.C.: Travel Industry Association, 2000), http://www.tia.org.