Critical Mass: Marketers Turn Attention to Mature Women

SKILLMAN, N.J. — Now it is prime time.<br><br>The featured beauty products at an Eckerd here aren’t bursting with glitter or bearing names to lure tweens. Instead, a prominent display in cosmetics touts a new line called Inner Splendor,...

SKILLMAN, N.J. — Now it is prime time.

This story first appeared in the September 6, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The featured beauty products at an Eckerd here aren’t bursting with glitter or bearing names to lure tweens. Instead, a prominent display in cosmetics touts a new line called Inner Splendor, which includes skin care, but also vitamins. There’s also Le Pont, an anti-wrinkle Vitamin C dermal patch from Doak Dermatologics.

At a Harmon in a town 20 minutes away, another wrinkle-fighting product, Frownies, is featured.

Move over kids, mom is the new shopper marketers desire.

Of course female consumers have always been cornerstones of mass market shopping. In the past five years, however, tremendous effort has been pumped into creating new lines for girls ages 7 and up. The brands commanding new shelf space included Jane, Bonne Bell and Caboodles. Somewhere in the space shuffle, mature women got lost — often to specialty stores — and some chains are out to remedy the situation.

In addition to efforts by Eckerd and Harmon, Rite Aid plans to publish a magazine for mature women and Ukrop’s, a supermarket chain, has installed women’s health departments featuring beauty items.

On the manufacturing side, Added Extras, a company that grew by serving young customers, is now directing efforts at older women who want fashionable colors with a line called Liquid Platinum. “We think this is an untapped market,” said Michael Kaplan at Added Extras.

The Eckerd line is the first of what many expect will be a bevy of cosmeceutical launches combining vitamins, herbs and beauty ingredients. According to Packaged Facts, a New York research firm, cosmeceuticals are a $5 billion business set to expand to $6 billion by 2006.

The theory behind Inner Splendor is that taking care of inner health breeds a more beautiful complexion. Inner Splendor consists of five items dealing with women-specific needs — Estro Support, Calorie Burners, Bone Max, Nails and Skin Care. Initial response to the line has been strong, said a company source.

The Doak Dermatologics Le Pont uses Vitamin C to reduce wrinkles. The company promises improvements with 14 days of use. There are other similar dermal patches on the market or planned as women look for more serious ammunition against wrinkles.

Appealing to mature women who want to fight wrinkles is a logical first step in capturing older shoppers. Studies reveal that 25 percent of women 45 to 54 would consider using cosmetics to hide or prevent wrinkles. And, although the much heralded spending power of teens has been frequently reported, mature women also have a great deal of money they are willing to plunk down to preserve their appearance.

People over 50 comprise 68.2 million or one-third of the adult population. Add in the 20 million aged 45 to 50 and the market is even more attractive. According to the U.S. Census, the 50-plus demographic controls more than 40 percent of all discretionary income, totaling $169 billion. They spend $6 billion a year on toiletries and $2 billion annually on hair care products, according to a study sponsored by More Magazine. Unfortunately, spending falls off on beauty after 55 because marketers are doing little to captivate maturing shoppers, according to Candace Corlett, a principal of WSL Strategic Retail in New York. Corlett said that women over 50 have evolving color cosmetic needs. “Suddenly, they have to change everything. Dark eyeliners and shadows don’t look good anymore. Their foundation has to provide better coverage because of enlarged pores. Many women jump to the conclusion that makeup doesn’t look good on them, when instead they should be saying ‘I need new makeup.’”

The prestige market has already started aiming for mature women. Decleor launched a new skin care line earlier this year in the U.S. called Vitaroma Lift Total for those 45-plus. The line consists of three stockkeeping units to combat skin slackening, wrinkles, dryness and loss of luminosity. Another major initiative is from Lancôme with an item called Absolue. It is designed to combat changes in skin related to aging, such as hormonal deficiency and sun exposure. It is Lancôme’s most expensive product to date — about $90. Estée Lauder is also responding with an extension to its Resilience line called Resilience Lift OverNight Face and Throat Creme.

Although most of the efforts are currently in skin care, cosmetics could be next to give special attention to maturing skin. Beyond offering colors for mature women, marketers expect to add ingredients that could hide aging skin.

There is still much more to be done. “Cosmetics companies do little to show mature women in their ads. I would try more products that spoke to me,” said Roz Cohen, a 50-pluser who writes a column for the Senior Scoop section of The Courier News, a daily newspaper out of Bridgewater, N.J.. She said marketers need to remember that today’s mature women don’t like to be thought of as frumpy. “We aren’t the grannies of yesterday,” she concluded.