Older women are infuriated by the assumption that they are somehow incompetent when it comes to technology. Don’t forget they have been there since the dawn of the computer age. We met women as passionate about their iPhones and tablets as any teenager—73% say they hate the way their generation is patronized when it comes to technology.
Are there any surprising statistics in the report?
Perhaps our most shocking findings relate to how Elastic Generation women relate to brand communications. They feel so sidelined that they are actively turning their backs on brands.
- 81% of advertisers don’t recognize their lives in products and services that target them
- 91% of Elastic women say they wish advertisers would treat their generation like people
- 63% of older Elastic women resent the continual focus on youth in communication
We asked these same questions three years ago, and, despite the greater visibility of older women in some respects, attitudes have not changed at all. Clearly the relationship is broken and brands will need to work hard to earn these women’s attention now.
How has the image of women over 50 changed in the past 10 years?
There has been an uptick in visibility. Beauty and fashion brands are signing up older women as ambassadors—Helen Mirren and Susan Sarandon for L’Oréal, for example, and Charlotte Rampling for Nars. Isabella Rossellini was even rehired by Lancôme, the brand that dropped her when she was in her forties.
We’re also seeing some older female models like Maye Musk and Linda Rodin enjoy a later-life career renaissance, as well as the success of mature modelling agencies. On screen, we’re starting to see older women carry the storylines in shows such as ITV’s Girlfriends or Netflix’s Grace and Frankie.
This increased visibility is really positive and we found that women welcome the change. Yet there’s still a lot more to be done. Brands also need to understand older women’s lives and ambitions, and need to deliver products and services that resonate.
Which brands are doing a good job of catering to this generation, and why?
We loved a campaign from makeup brand Look Fabulous Forever that features a feisty-looking 50-something surfer beside the tagline “Do I look like I need a stairlift?” This is a knowing wink to a generation of women that has felt patronized and misunderstood by marketers for years.
Similarly, White Hot Hair, a brand founded by UK entrepreneur Jayne Mayled, addresses a gap in the market for hair products that accentuate the natural beauty of grey hair, when most brands are talking to women about covering them up. The brand’s message is that it’s OK to be you, you don’t need to disguise your grey hairs, you’re fine as you are. No other brands were saying that. Brands that accept older women for who they are, without making them feel they need to disguise their years, will resonate with this generation.