THE BLOG
12/19/2013 12:04 pm ET | Updated Feb 18, 2014

Companies Don't Know How to Market to Women Over 60 -- and That's Bad for Everyone!

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If I see one more 35-year-old model advertising anti-aging cream I am going to scream! As a 60-year-old woman, I have already changed my own language to a paradigm of "pro-aging" instead of "anti-aging." I don't want to look younger. I want to feel and live better. In fact, the more I think about it, the more it seems that brands just don't understand what women over 60 want.

Knowing that I might be an exception, I asked the 40,000 women in the Sixty and Me community what they felt about the way that companies advertise to them. Their responses were equally strong and highlight the challenges that companies face when trying to market to women of my generation. Specifically, the women in the community felt that much of the marketing directed at them was dishonest, inauthentic, one-directional and just plain boring.

Perhaps advertising agencies really think that women over 60 are naïve enough to believe that we can fight aging. We live in our bodies; we know what aging looks and feels like. But, instead of creating and marketing products that might actually be helpful after 60, most companies are content to spend crazy amounts of money to sell women products that cost a lot and don't live up to their promises.

Unfortunately, advertising is only the most visible symptom of a much bigger problem. Since marketers are not taking the time to understand women over 60, many of the products that we could actually use never make it to market. This is a terrible lose/lose situation. On an economic level, products are not being produced that could create profits and jobs. On a personal level, women over 60 are not getting access to products that could help them to live happier lives. As strange as it might sound, women over 60 should take control and show companies what they want to buy and how they want to be marketed to.

In a previous article, I talked about the power of the invisibility cloak that women have nurtured throughout their lives. More importantly, I said that women have the power to take it off and put it back on whenever they choose. Now is a time to take it off. We need to amplify our voice in a united and constructive way. Instead of complaining about being invisible, we need to rebrand ourselves so that companies understand and respond to our needs.

Since Marketing 101 teaches us to start with an understanding of our audience, let's help marketers to understand what makes us tick. I recently asked the members of the Sixty and Me community what advice they would give to marketers. Their responses were insightful and embody many of the values that I love about the women of my generation. Here is there advice for marketers:

  • Be authentic: Show real women using your products, not celebrities
  • Be truthful: Tell us that your product will make us feel better not look younger
  • Be respectful: We are smart, educated and tech savvy, don't talk down to us
  • Be quirky: We are creative, eccentric and love being unique and independent
  • Be real: We are seeking purpose and a journey, use real women in your messaging
  • Be focused on experiences: Don't dwell on features, functionality and price
  • Ask us: We are here, ask us to join your companies, your meetings and listen

My message to all of the marketers out there is that women over 60 are not invisible. We are forming communities like Sixty and Me. We are ready to purchase products that we need from companies that market to us with integrity and respect. If you want to know what women over 60 want, just ask. We're ready to tell you our secrets. Well, at least some of them.

What advice would you give to marketers to want to make their products appeal to people in over 50? Please add your thoughts in the comments section or in the Sixty and Me forum.