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The Real Invisible Woman

By Mary Schmidt, Marketing Troubleshooter

Invisible woman In Lisa Scottoline's essay collection, Why My Third Husband Will Be A Dog, she takes note that if you're over 50 you disappear - in fashion articles, cosmetic ads...and pretty much everywhere else in marketing.  Apparently the "conventional" wisdom is us aged, wrinkled hags have no money, don't care about looking good, and probably barely leave the house, except to buy more cat food and (generic store-brand - we're poor, ya know) vodka.  

The baffling thing is that there's a TON of real wisdom around about how 50+ people - of both sexes - do, in fact, have money, spend it, and spend it on a wide range of things, including new tech toys.

As Mark Middleton riffs in his post, Grower Bolder, What Was Under Your Tree?

Amazingly, most "experts" still subscribe to the outdated and outright ridiculous belief that all 50-plus consumers are poor, overly frugal, highly technophobic and averse to switching brands. As a result, they spend all of their efforts trying to attract 18-year-olds with little money and attention spans roughly equivalent to the squirrels in my back yard.

Indeed. Most marketers apparently either don't read, can't read...or don't ever step outside their "young and cool" bubble.

Speaking of "young and cool"  I wonder how much longer Facebook and Zuckerberg will be considered "cool" by his fellow youngsters (if he even still is...and - hey - he's not getting any younger).  The fastest growth in FB users is  - um - in the "old" demographic.  If  the founder is on the cover of old-time mainstream media Time (yawn)...and your grandpa is trying to friend you...well, how long is that gonna last? Back to flying thumbs of steel 4U and on to the next new, new thing.  (BTW, what ever happened to MySpace?) Hell, I'm starting to get a bit bored with Facebook, and I've got a substantially longer attention span than a squirrel. 

My fellow "old and uncool" femmes are a vibrant, fun, and ribald bunch.  Even when we don't have much money, we know how to have rich experiences. (Life is too short to drink bad wine...or vodka). My 90+ friend, Mary, just went home to England after a holiday visit to her 60+ niece.(Note to fashion marketers - Mary still wears make-up and loves new jewelry). They traveled all  over the state while she was here, trying new restaurants, shopping and sightseeing. Three of us - 50+ and 60+ - are headed to New Orleans next week to play.  And, several of us (50+ to 70+) are thinking of going to Istanbul for a week in the fall; if we do, we may be buying Kindles and we'll definitely be taking our iPods and iPads.    

Now, I've got to go download some new iPad apps.  Then I'm putting on my new brown and turquoise cowboy boots and run errands (including buying some GOOD vodka for Friday martini time...;) before settling down and watching CW's Vampire Diaries online this evening. My vote for sexiest vampire ever - Damon. (Sorry, Angel.)  Yea. Ba-bee.  Do I really need to tell you that the CW's target demographic is much, much younger than ol' hag me?  Nahhhh....

Happy Friday!



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Actually, if it weren't for cleaning, baby and weight loss products, women would become invisible when we become mothers.

Frankly, I'm looking forward to my golden years. I think it's getting better. I see alot of well-deserved attention on women over fifty.

Yvonne DiVita

I agree, Debra. I do think women are invisible in many areas of life, and 'older' women have traditionally been dismissed. But, today, we're still active, smart, and out there having fun! I love Mary's itinerary - Mary you rock!

Debra Gaynor

There's a lot of truth to your assertions. But baby boomers do not plan to go gently into that good night, to quote Dylan Thomas. They are younger and more active than any generation before them. And marketers can't just ignore their economic clout. So while marketing will always aspirationally be targeted to younger women, I don't think they've forgotten about this generation, which, after all, comprises about 25% of the population.

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