A recent survey of women over 45 confirms what the cosmetic industry wishes weren’t true: most of the gazillion dollars spent targeting the 40 million Boomer women in the U.S. are just making them mad.
What does beauty mean to women 45+?
As we’ve seen in several surveys (including research from Digitas Health that I summarized here,)age doesn’t mean the end of beauty to women. But it may change what “beauty” means.
In a survey of the many women 45+ who are spending lots of money to look and feel great, Boombox Network asked them about their views of beauty and of the beauty companies.
While women continue to feel beautiful as they age, they define it with words like “confidence” and “natural.” In our own research, women told us that their two top needs from cosmetic products were protecting skin from damage and looking healthy. Yet that’s not what cosmetic companies are selling them.
How Do Cosmetic Products Fail Women?
There is a giant gap between what cosmetic companies are offering and what midlife women say they want.
As for what they want, Boomer women name the following beauty problems that “most need help”: yellowing teeth; hair color; skin texture; age spots; and uneven skin tone.
Not surprisingly, these are issues that affect everyone’s looks as they age. They also represent areas where cosmetic products can deliver quickly verifiable results.
Yet, the cosmetic industry seems to think that aging women care only about anti-aging skincare products, whose efficacy is the hardest to prove. As one respondent said, “How would anyone know [if a product works] unless they spent months or years with half their face covered in one thing, and the other half in something else?”
No category breeds as much distrust among Boomer women as anti-aging products. Almost 40% of them find the claims made by anti-aging skincare products to be either somewhat or completely non-credible.
What could skincare companies do instead? They could speak to the direct concerns and needs of aging women regarding skin tone, texture and age spots, and show how their products improve the appearance of these unavoidable conditions.
How do Cosmetic Ads Fail Women?
We know that Boomer women feel invisible in the marketplace. When they aren’t being ignored, unfortunately, they often feel insulted, even by companies whose mission is to make them more beautiful.
In the Boombox survey, almost 60% of Boomer women said that they can’t relate to most beauty ads; 80% say they don’t aspire to look like models in those ads.
Women are pretty clear about what they’d like to see: more “real people” and more “people my age.” It’s shocking to me that more companies don’t give women what they want. It works. The cosmetic model most cited (in our own research) by Boomer women is Diane Keaton for L’Oreal. She’s a celebrity, but she’s also real -- and she’s 66.
It’s not always easy for advertisers to get women right, but this research offers some really easy lessons: