There are many brands that focus on Millennials and Gen Z customers.
But as inflation hits a 40-year high and consumers feel the pinch, should retailers focus on shoppers with more financial stability and security — the over-50s?
Kantar’s Director of Strategic Analytics, Andrew Saxton, says this market is the largest in terms of spend and is growing rapidly.
In fashion, the over-50s accounted for 45% of fashion spending last year and spent 23.6% more year-to-date than last year.
Despite this enormous purchasing power, this group of customers is too often neglected. “We know that women over 55 can often feel completely misunderstood, if not forgotten, by today’s fashion brands,” says Tracey Hepton, Marketing Director of Joe Browns.
Kantar’s statistics confirm this. The research firm found that 60% of the top 20 retailers underserve shoppers aged 50 and over and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
According to Kantar’s inclusiveness survey, only 35% of over-50s say they feel welcome in retail.
But retailers are realizing this and are beginning to actively target this group. Last week, H&M signed up 84-year-old Oscar-winning actress and activist Jane Fonda will showcase her new ‘movewear’ brand H&M Move, in a bid to make her workout clothes more accessible.
And earlier this year, Farfetch made ex-Sex and the City actress Kim Cattrall one of the faces of its Spring 2022 #YourChoiceYourFarfetch campaign.
miss the target
However, many brands fail to appeal to the over 50s.
Today’s 50+ shopper is very different from previous generations. Turning 50 no longer means relaxing and thinking about retirement.
“His mindset hasn’t changed at all,” Hepton said. “In fact, she’s a lot more comfortable in her skin than she’s ever been and feels as young and vibrant as ever. It’s just her age that’s changed and she doesn’t want to feel defined by a number.
“She feels that brands often use her age rather than her attitude to appeal to her, and therefore feels frequented by older brands that claim to cater to her needs.”
Hepton tells the At the other end of the spectrum, the 50+ customer is often alienated from mainstream brands and therefore finds themselves stuck in a ‘no man’s land’.
She thinks this shopper is looking for brands she can trust to help her “look stylish, feel confident and feel great when she steps out of the house.”
How the over 50s shop
The over-50s shop primarily in stores, Saxton says, with the high street accounting for 28.5% of their spending. However, this demographic tends to over-index their purchases from retail parks ad points of sale compared to young consumers.
“Compared to what they buy, a significant proportion is spent on gifts, holiday shopping ad for clothes to relax in the house, After than the rest of the market,” says Saxton.
However, e-commerce is a growing share of the market with 38% of spend now done online.
“They are becoming After engaged with tablet ad laptop purchases than the average buyer, creating plenty of opportunities to target them,” Saxton says.
The rise of the so-called silver surfer has undoubtedly been propelled by the pandemic. With stores closed and concerns over the spread of the virus, some older shoppers turned to online during the shutdowns and continued to shop that way.
To capitalize on this growing digital market, Hotter Shoes owner Unbound Group launched a multi-brand platform last month.
The marketplace offers a range of partner brands for its primary 55+ customer base, including Birkenstock, Geox, Hush Puppies, Rohan and Skechers, and will expand into other categories such as apparel and wellness .
Unbound Group Chief Executive, Ian Watson, said: “We are leveraging our proven proposition to capitalize on the growing number of consumers over 55 shopping online.
“Through our new platform, we are creating a group that understands, connects with and sells to our primary target consumer on a broader and deeper basis.”
Watson explains that the group uses its vast database of more than 4.6 million people and its email database of nearly 1.2 million people as an essential tool to target its buyers.
Hotter leverages this data to understand what their target customers are doing, where they’re buying, and what their thought processes are, Watson says. This allows them to develop and organize a range.
Going forward, Watson says the group will be able to “go down the road of personalization for people as we learn more about the individual consumer.”
The Joe Browns catalog “is and always has been central to our success as a business,” says Hepton, backed by a “robust digital strategy as this customer becomes increasingly savvy online.”
This increasingly digital shopper is also looking for new ways to shop. Social media is increasingly important for the older buyer. In fact, men aged 55-64 were Instagram’s fastest growing audience last year, with numbers up 63.6%, according to Hootsuite.
Smart retailers are using social media to target older audiences. Marks & Spencer has even launched M&S Live, a live stream that customers can watch and interact with, see product demonstrations and purchase products.
Channels aside, it’s important for retailers to go there to attract shoppers who are ever so interested in style.
Hepton explains that at Joe Browns, they “place a lot of emphasis on individuality.”
“It’s not really a question of age, but the over 55 audience loves what we have to offer and our outlook on life. It all depends on the style of each garment,” she says.
Hepton says the 55-plus consumer is now “much more confident in her style choices” and in turn can determine how Joe Browns can work with her wardrobe.
The impact of the cost of living crisis
It is presumptuous to assume that older buyers have not been affected by the cost of living crisis.
Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) indicates that over-50s are returning to work after retirement as the cost of living crisis rages on.
There are now more people aged 50 and over working or looking for work than since just before the pandemic, with an increase of 116,000 over the past year.
However, Saxton says more over 50s say they are more comfortable managing their finances than ay other age group.
He adds that 19% of those over 50 classify themselves as having financial difficulties at the moment, compared to 21% of those under 50, so there could be higher levels of disposable income available. .
Hepton acknowledges that trading will be more difficult in the coming months, although she says “the slightly older audience may be in a better position to tackle things.”
With inflation expected to climb further over the next year, traditional retailers would do well to follow in the footsteps of H&M and Farfetch and not overlook a larger and more financially stable group of shoppers.
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