Byline: Laura Klepacki / Chantal Tode

Baby boomers are a health- and image-conscious group, and when this bulging population segment began to hit the 50 mark, marketers began to hit shelves with anti-aging health and beauty aids products.
The potential growth of the beauty market is tremendous. According to PrimeLife, a California-based marketing group, by the year 2000, the 50-plus market will gain 12 million people, bringing with them an additional $300 billion in spending power. That is while the number of 18-to-34-year-olds decreases by nine million, eroding $40 billion in spending from that market.
But some say the beauty industry, which has been accustomed to addressing an under-40 crowd, has been slow to adjust its marketing messages to appeal to an older audience. Addressing aging issues head on can be a sensitive matter.
“To be honest, there haven’t been a lot [of manufacturers] who let you know that they are going after the 50-plus group as a market,” said Frank Conaway, president and chief executive officer of PrimeLife, which studies the 50-plus population.
Frankie Cadwell, president of Cadwell Davis Advertising in New York, which specializes in creating ads for the 50-plus market, thinks beauty firms have been afraid to talk to older women.
“It is amazing how little is being done, when you look at figures of the growth of the [50-plus] population, yet cosmetics and skin care companies turn their backs on older women,” said Cadwell, who thinks they fear turning off their younger consumers.
“People are afraid to talk to older women, because they think it is depressing and because they don’t know how to talk to them. They think women lose interest in themselves after a certain age,” she added.
“In reality, women spend more time and money on themselves after 50. They have more disposable income and time. It is a beautiful target market,” she said.
Conaway contends that many anti-aging product lines continue to use models who are younger than the intended target market. “That is part of the problem, from my point of view,” he said.
Because there has been a lack of models for that market, last year, PrimeLife created its own modeling agency, PrimeLife Talent. Its models currently range in age from 40 to 92 and have appeared in print ads and TV spots.
Audrey Guskey, a marketing professor for Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pa., who studies the baby boomer population, acknowledged that “glamour sells.” But she expects that marketers will begin using models more representative of the 50-plus age group.
“When you deal with products and advertising products, you want to have people in your ads that you can relate to,” said Guskey. “Women get a confidence as they age,” said Guskey. “I would highlight that women now are so sure of themselves and confident.”
Cheryl Vitali, executive vice president of marketing for Revlon, said that its Age Defying cosmetics line, which targets an older market, is one of its fastest-growing franchises.
She said Revlon prefers to go beyond tailoring messages to a specific age demographic, preferring instead to address women by their “psychographic” groups. By that, Revlon means a women’s beauty needs and attitude, which is not necessarily defined by an age.
“There are a lot of women and mind-sets, and that’s how we approach it,” said Vitali.
The Age Defying line, promoted by actress Melanie Griffith, may target an over-40 population, but it is appealing to women, “who are in the mind-set of defying their age and want to fight it,” said Vitali. “These products provide a transformation and resistance to the signs of aging.”
Meanwhile, Revlon’s Almay brand, which takes a simpler and more natural approach to beauty, would appeal to women seeking simplification. “Almay is positioned as a “no-fuss” makeup, and that message is best encapsulated in the One Coat line,” said Vitali. “It is about cutting the fuss and getting it right the first time.”
Additionally, Revlon has increased distribution for its Ultima II brand, also targeted to an older women. But it, too, carries its own message and distinct appeal, said Vitali. “Not every women is in an ‘age-defying mode’; there are those who have accepted and are happy where they are and want to enhance their appearance.”
Even Cover Girl, which primarily bills itself as a teen brand, recognizes that 50 percent of its sales are to women 35-plus and offers the Replenishing Wear foundation line for older women, which it describes as a product for “changing skin,” along with MoistureWear makeup, for women with dry skin.
Baby boomers are generally considered to be those who were born in the years 1946 to 1964 and will tremendously boost the size of the senior-citizen population in this country as they mature. According to the U.S. Census, in 1990 the number of Americans age 50 and over was 63.5 million. In the year 2000, that will grow to 75.8 million, and in the year 2010, it is projected to reach 96.4 million.
While there has been some hesitation in directly addressing the age issue in marketing messages, products for older women abound, and many companies have been making some modifications.
Dunnan Edell, senior executive vice president of CCA Industries, which markets the Sudden Change skin care line, said it has always targeted the brand at older consumers. “But, we recently changed our packaging to a soft green to be more in line with the kind of sophistication we think these shoppers are looking for at mass. It is funny to see people marketing to 50-plus when we’ve been doing it for years,” said Edell.
Procter & Gamble recently launched three Oil of Olay line extensions called ProVital that are targeted to women 50 and above. Mark Char, vice president and general manager of skin care, said P&G is laying the groundwork for a wide range of products targeted at this age group that could eventually account for more than 25 percent of the brand’s $162 million in sales.
The size of this segment isn’t the only reason P&G is targeting this group, said Char. The firm’s marketing team has also uncovered some important unmet needs for women over 50.
“If you think about the woman who is 50, she’s been using skin care since she was 20 — that’s 30 years of experience, which makes her an expert,” said Char. “They’re jaded to the claims of many skin care items, but not to skin care products. They want to look good.”
P&G ProVital will attempt to meet the specific needs of this group, which include dry skin and uneven pigmentation. The line is also being supported with an advertising campaign featuring a 51-year-old model that speaks directly to this market.
“These women are beautiful,” said Char, and they don’t want to hear that “You’re good-looking for your age’ — that’s demeaning. They want to hear that ‘You’re good looking.”‘
Char foresees a time when retailers might consider creating a special section within their beauty departments for this age group, much as they do today for teenagers.
Clairol is also targeting a more mature clientele with its new line of hair color called Revitalique, which will be on shelves in September. While not so specifically designed for women over 50, Clairol will aim to reach baby boomers who are starting to see those first gray hairs.
Clairol’s executives believe there is an opportunity to target this group with a hair-coloring line that incorporates the high-end image and cutting-edge technology they’ve grown accustomed to in other consumer products, said Ruth Frantz, group manager for Revitalique. To this end, the new line contains ingredients such as retinol, collagen and proteins, which are commonly used in anti-aging skin care products.
The company’s research for the launch uncovered some interesting details about this generation. For example, although they represent 30 percent of the population, they hold 40 percent of all spending power. Baby boomers grew up with such inventive toys as the Etch A Sketch, and they are the most well-educated generation in history — 30 percent have received college degrees. Baby boomers consider that old age will begin for them at 79 years old, yet they feel old age began for their parents at 50 years old.
In May, the Andrew Jergens Co. introduced its first Jergens facial skin care line called simply Jergens Face Care, targeted to women 35 to 55.
What’s unique about Jergens’s line, said Jeffrey McCurrach, director of marketing, is the message the company is using to promote the line, which is based on research that a growing group of mature women aren’t necessarily looking for a fountain of youth.
“We think we are on the front end of the trend away from turning back the hands of time, that consumers are not responsive to those promises anymore, but are responsive to a message about looking the best that they can,” said McCurrach.
To promote the line, the company will rely on an extensive sampling program that will go to spots that it believes its target group frequents, such as garden shows, certain festivals and arts and crafts shows.

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