GRACE'S MUSINGS: Mind the 40-plus gap
During a recent New York business trip, I came across Kirbie Johnson's excellent article in Allure magazine, titled "The Over-40 Makeup Revolution is Long Overdue". She critically examined the lack of diverse and creative makeup products for mature skin, despite older women's growing visibility in advertising and social media.
This resonates with my motivation behind founding Studio10 - to address the beauty industry's disregard for the unique needs of mature women. So, where do we stand now?
When I founded Studio10, my motivation was exactly this – to make changes in a beauty industry that was overlooking the unique makeup/skincare needs and desires of mature women. But – while we have created a brand that fits into this gap, Johnson highlights a valid concern; she feels “aged out of the makeup conversation …” And she’s still only in her thirties! What about the 40-plus demographic?
Johnson says: “Yes – there have always been products and brands marketed to women looking to “turn back time”, but few (if any) were declared to be specifically for women over 40. To avoid alienating younger shoppers, the marketing was very much “this cream helps combat [insert thing that happens to ageing skin here], but our brand is for everyone” – even if you really don’t need it.”
She makes a good point. Where are the products on shelves that specifically target women over the age of 40, that actually address the needs of women as they begin to mature, but that equally “don’t make ageing their point of differentiation”? Johnson asks: “Where are the products that have the same flair as exciting new Gen Z brands?”
Where indeed – particularly when you consider that midlife women make up a significant proportion of the consumer market for makeup and skincare products, AND with more income than younger generations that they are prepared to spend. Johnson argues that 40-plus women are likely to benefit more from beauty products than most 20-year-olds, and yet she feels “left behind by a beauty industry she loves” at a time when she has “more disposable income to spend on pricier products”.
Johnson sees a glaring gap in the market for the 40-plus demographic – and where advertising does give a nod to this age group, she feels it’s tokenised, with “dull and stuffy” brand images that most women in this bracket will struggle to identify with. She highlights a 2019 study that showed women of all ages investing time and money in beauty and, as we know all too well here at Studio10, this isn’t something that starts to take a back seat as we age. If anything – we invest more.
So what can we do about this? How do we discover brands that aren’t notably specific to the 40-plus bracket, that don’t fall into the well-advertised older woman category, but that include products suited to skin as it starts to mature? Advertising for sure needs to change. Where there are plenty of older models and celebrities now promoting products for mature skin, there is a definite lack of 40 plus faces. And branding image needs to be more creative, lively and sassy, with as many options out there for these women in their 40s as they had in their 20s and 30s.
Johnson says: “We’re living in a unique era when women now entering their 40s and 50s have had access to platforms like YouTube since their 20s and 30s. They spent time and money buying into what their favourite content creator promoted. As they age they’re still willing to be influenced into making a purchase, and they want the same number of options they used to have ...” Says it all really.