50-Plus Women And Their Spending Power: 6 Facts For Retailers


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You’d think $15 trillion would be enough to buy a well-targeted promotion from a major retailer. But not always.

Those trillions of dollars represent the combined spending power of women who are older than 50, according to Forbes. And, considering that represents 27% of all consumer spending, you’d think this consumer group would be entering stores on the red carpet.

Instead, when it comes to brands engaging these female “super consumers,” many women feel invisible. Just 5% to 10% of marketing budgets are earmarked for 50-plus consumers, the Harvard Business Review has reported. As a result, 91% of Boomer women feel ignored and misunderstood by marketers, according to research by Girlpower Marketing.

Middle-Aged Women Deserve More Retail-Marketing Attention

Look, retailers and brands, you may believe that the young are your future, but women in their 50s are going to be around for several more decades. And they control 95 percent of household purchasing decisions, according to AARP’s research.

It would pay to invest in better understanding this highly powerful and influential group. Based on loyalty program data and other shopper insights, here are six factors of 50-plus women that retailers and brands should know.

She’s more than a figure – she’s likely to be six figures. OK, first up, women 50 and older have capital, representing the largest demographic with incomes higher than $100,000, AARP reported. And they control the big-dollar decisions, including 80% of luxury travel purchases. A third are willing to upgrade to a new car model even if their current one works “well enough.” Pay attention to who is driving the (literal) purchase decisions! Car makers should reconsider featuring 20-somethings in their ads and do what Mercedes had done when it featured 60-year-old model Yazemeenah Rossi in its S Class campaign: placing a mature woman who can buy the wheels behind the wheel.

She’s still growing and changing. Many adults, in middle age, enter a period called “middlescence,” a second period of adolescence that can last until age 60. Like the first adolescence, middlescence is marked by change and challenge, but these shifts can now be resolved with more money. Many women in their 50s, for example, experience hormonal changes due to menopause, which trigger unexpected purchases. The brand Womaness delivers on many of these once-unmet needs with products that glamorize this stage in a women’s life – sexual wellness kits, cooling mists and toning body creams. In 2021, Womaness earned the Beacon Award for best brand launch, according to Beauty Independent, and its sales are expected to triple in 2022.

She uses her money to fulfill a purpose. According to research by UBS, 90% of Gen X women (the oldest approaching 55) and 87% of Boomer women use their incomes as a tool to fulfill a personal purpose. For 81% of Gen Xers and 64% of Boomer women, this means investing in brands that align with their personal values. These can be very personal values: 80% of Boomer women will try a product that supports other women-owned business, and they’ll even give it a second chance if it missed the mark the first time. This may be why Procter & Gamble, the global maker of Pantene, Olay and Tide, is spending $10 billion with women-led businesses by 2025.

She’s willing to see someone else. Middle-aged women are experienced consumers, so they know the risk of trying something new but are willing to take that chance. The AARP reported that 82% of women 50 and older will try a new brand, while Girlpower found that 64% of Boomer-aged women have dropped brands they felt were ignoring them. Here’s one way to keep their attention: The athleisure brand Athleta has launched a member-based information site, called AthletaWell, that covers a range of topics relevant to women of all ages. It invites members to weigh in on this content with a call for topics relating to aging as it pertains the mind, body and purpose.

She will give you abandonment issues. Because 50-plus women are prone to switching brands, and 72% of all women shop online, many likely click away from digital shopping carts. The average shopping cart abandonment rate is 70%, according to an analysis by Baymard Institute. The leading reason: unexpected costs such as shipping fees and taxes. Retailers can do the opposite and offer a small discount on items bought within a certain time frame (say, 24 hours), or promise that a purchase will include a free sample. Retailers can further encourage cart commitment with a niche loyalty program, designed expressly to reward – and learn more about – this lucrative demographic.

She’s doing-it-herself, for many. In addition to making shopping decisions for a lot of people, mature women provide financial assistance. Adult kids might ask her to co-sign a mortgage, and her parents may need help “aging up” their homes. The purchases she makes for these needs reveal much. Take home renovations. Two-thirds of 50-plus women control decisions about home improvements, according to the marketing group Coming of Age. This explains why Lowe’s markets to women: It learned years ago they spent 50% more than its male shoppers, reported Better Marketing. Then, in 2021, Lowe’s featured fashion maven Iris Apfel, at 100, in store ads. Bravo!

50-Plus Women Also Have Good Memories

If a mature woman feels jilted by a retailer or brand, she will remember it for a long time, and she will make sure those who she influences remember it, too. How much can that hurt? Well, for context: 2022 is expected to be the first trillion-dollar year for e-commerce, Business Insider reported. And women 50 and older are reported to control $15 trillion of all spending.

Regardless of whether retailers and brands see these women, their influence is not invisible, but their spending power is.

Jenn McMillen
Incendio Founder Jenn McMillen has been building and sharing expertise in the retail industry for 20+ years. Her expertise includes customer relationship management, shopper experience, retail marketing, loyalty programs and data analytics. She's a retail contributor for Forbes.


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