How Women Over 50 Buy Fashion – Marketing Week


The amount women in their 50s spend on clothing is almost £ 7bn and growing, but they are much more diverse than younger shoppers, requiring a separate marketing strategy.

It’s a criticism often leveled at fashion brands that their marketing communications are massively skewed towards the younger end of the market. Yet research from Kantar Worldpanel suggests that it is an older generation that is driving the growth of women’s clothing. Will that mean marketers should make overtures to this otherwise seemingly overlooked demographic?

People over 50 contribute £ 300 billion to the UK economy each year, according to Age UK figures this month; Saga notes that the age group makes up almost half of UK earnings, for example. It is clear that this segment, although affected by the financial crisis like other segments, has money to spend.

This is reflected in the study, which notes that spending by women over 50 contributed 4.5% more in 2013 than in 2012. They spent £ 6.7bn on women’s clothing and 5.6 billion pounds for items for themselves.

Young women are worth more to the market overall, spending £ 9.6bn in 2013, but this figure is down 1.3% from 2012. However, targeting the over 50 segment will be tricky for marketers because of the diversity of attitudes, says the head of Kantar Worldpanel. fashion designer Ian Mitchell.

“You have to put the older term in quotes. We looked at the 50+ age group, but that doesn’t mean the under 50s do one thing and the over 50s do another.

Using segmentation allows us to modify the range to align our homepage and digital marketing with individual customer needs

“The women in their 40s and 50s on either side of the ditch are not too different. There may be differences in life stages or circumstances, but in terms of attitude and definition, there is no sudden change.

That said, Mitchell adds that women between the ages of 45 and 55 spend more on themselves. “Marketers need to ask themselves how they can tap into this age group. If you take the top 10 womenswear retailers and look at which ones are growing, they are doing it because the 50+ market is influencing it.

Better with age

Spending over 50s on clothing, footwear and accessories for themselves accounts for 41 percent of the total market. Spending on dresses increased from 9 percent of the total market in 2009 to 12 percent in 2013; shoes experienced similar growth. Those over 50 represented 7% of the volume purchased in 2009 against 9% in 2013.

The increase in clothing volumes is not due to a particular personality type, but indicates broader learning for marketers. “People over 50 spend more on dresses, but that reflects the trend. In determining the mix of products in the wardrobe by age, there is nothing remarkable about the age group, ”says Mitchell.

“While there is a correlation between style preference and age, all of women’s fashion is about attitude towards fashion. Different groups of customers have different trends, so one wants flattering clothes that follow the fashion, another wants to avoid looking like their mother, ”says Lee Pinnington, multi-channel marketing director at Matalan.

Daryl Humphreys, Marketing Manager at BHS, explains why the retailer believes that specifically targeting a customer’s age is no longer an appropriate strategy, regardless of a single segment’s growth model: “We believe it it’s more about attitude and lifestyle than age.

“Traditional age barriers are blurred and the belief is that customers of all ages have confidence in fashion. Smart retailers are quickly adapting mainstream trends to all ages. There is more awareness of how to style their hair and it gives people the confidence to be fashion oriented. “

Discount divas

An emerging trend is that people over 50 want value from every purchase. Almost half of all their fashion spending (42%) is spent on discounted items.

“The older you are, the more care and consideration you take in purchasing items,” notes Mitchell. “We were looking at Primark’s growth and a lot of it is coming from the older group. “


However, the study found that even if those over 50 paid slightly lower prices than those under 35, they would pay more for outerwear (rather than underwear) and accessories (mostly clothing). handbags), which suggests that these items are an investment and should have a lower “cost per wear” over time.

Matalan’s Pinnington says price is important, but constant discounts are not part of his strategy. “We don’t see ourselves as a high / low retailer. We follow honesty pricing and back it up with our Matalan Black Top Buyers program which offers incentives, but is promoted and used at all ages.

Silver surfers


Overall, online shopping for women’s clothing increased from 29% in 2009 to 35% in 2013, as more women over 50 go online. ComScore notes that the over 55s are the dominant internet user group in the UK with 9 million unique online visitors in 2012, 1 million more than the second age group 25 to 34.

Online shopping habits reflect how the over 50 age group is segmented. Of the 9.5 million women shoppers aged 50 and over in the market, more than half are over 60, and over half of the 35% of online womenswear shoppers are over 60 (19% against 13% of 50 to 59 year olds). Research shows that an average woman aged 50 and over spends £ 272 in six months, 17% of which is spent online.

Matalan recently deployed the Tripps segmentation software, developed by Zinc Retail, to better understand its customer segments, behavior and fashion preferences. It allows the brand to make the most of this growth in all age groups but above all to capitalize on the increase in online activity observed by Kantar.

“With the rise of the internet, we are trying to work with our purchasing teams to communicate and edit the ranges that are on the catwalks, then thanks to a personalized direct marketing activity and the data available to us via the Matalan card , we can identify buyers. and communicate what is relevant to them.


“Using Tripps segmentation allows us to tweak the lineup to align what’s happening on our homepage and digital marketing with the needs of each customer,” says Pinnington.

Targeting communications directly at the over 50 segment with its diverse lifestyles and needs was variously described as “condescending” and “limited” by respondents. The fact that the growth of the top 10 womenswear retailers has been attributed to the over 50 segment is remarkable, as the top 10 are also, by and large, generalists, not claiming a particular customer segment. .

“With any retailer in the top 10, the breakdown of buyer spending isn’t a bell curve, it’s flat. There are retailers that are known to target older women, but nothing says that as a younger woman ages she will start shopping there. If you are a traditionally “older” retailer, you have to look younger. No one really wants to dress to look older. Everyone is looking behind them, ”concludes Mitchell de Kantar.

Marketers response


Lee pinnington
Multichannel Marketing Director

Just because you’re over 50, it doesn’t dictate how you shop. It’s about understanding those over 50 and not taking them for granted. Ninety percent of our customer data comes to us through the Matalan card so we can track behavior over time and we can understand end use and this is fashion occasion, not fashion. ‘age.

We segment in terms of outwear or formal wear and look at shopping opportunities. With our 12 million shoppers in our database, we take a look at how they shop in the store to deliver ranges that thrill women of all ages. Creating a range for the over 50s is a stereotype and how do you explain the over 60 trend?

Through our data and our supported stores, we try to understand what individuals are looking for. Depending on the store’s profile, we will tailor the experience accordingly. One of our attractions is that generations shop together. Daughters will buy with Moms and over the span of our database we can see cards passed down from generation to generation. We aim to deliver dynamically edited ranges regardless of the customer’s age or fashion attitude.


Glove of restoration
Communication Mode
University of Northumbria

It’s one thing to include women in this age group in your branding approach; it’s another to select them in a marketing campaign. Sitting front row at London Fashion Week, whether or not the brand is a favorite of an older age group, the bench will be filled with much younger taste designers.

The companies that successfully serve the older market are the ones that create sophisticated, sophisticated fashion for women of a certain mindset, not a certain age. I may still be wearing some brands in 10 or 20 years, but I will not suddenly go back to the model of a so-called 50-year-old woman. Consumers should look to brands that are not defined by age, but are clearly for that age.


Kantar Worldpanel collects data using a panel of 15,000 demographically representative individuals who scan every item they have purchased. Kantar is constantly talking to these individuals in Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) about what they buy, where they bought it and why to develop a detailed picture of the UK retail market.


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