But ambitious cosmetics players beware: traditional stereotypes do not resonate and price plays a fundamental role in purchasing decisions. This demographic needs reassurance they are getting what they pay for when it comes to creams, lotions and cosmetics. Therefore, successfully tapping into demand in the silver segment will lie in the industry’s ability to market targeted solutions in an authentic and positive way.
Gold Not Old
Consumer attitudes toward aging vary significantly between the West and Asia Pacific. In Asia, traditional anti-aging dialogues continue to be reflected in sentiment as 50% of consumers in the 55+ age group say they would like to look younger and just a third would like their looks to reflect their age, according to Canadean’s 2016 research.
In comparison, in North America and Europe the move toward embracing age rather than seeking to turn back the clock is significantly more established, this sentiment being on par with the proportion of seniors saying they would like to look younger.
Traditional anti-aging messaging has made way for more of a skin health focus and a positive outlook on growing old, such as the slogan from L’Oréal’s Age Perfect Golden Age skin care line, “Gold, not old.” The world’s largest pure-play beauty company took the ‘embracement’ approach to aging by signing Helen Mirren, an actress in her seventies, as the product ambassador to convey a more authentic product offering that can effectively resonate with the target audience.
“A focus on skin health and embracing the physical changes of the aging process can create an appealing and positive product offering,” according to Canadean analyst Jamie Mills. “This is further strengthened by a more positive slant in its marketing suggesting that older age is a positive life-stage.”
However, Mills reports that just 17% of consumers aged 55+ in Asia Pacific agree that images in beauty advertising are realistic.
“Aging seniors aren’t necessarily looking for products that will turn the clock back 20 years. Therefore, using significantly younger models to illustrate product benefits is likely to find difficulty in resonating. Similarly, it may be perceived as unrealistic in terms of actual product benefits and results,” she told Happi.
Rather than trying to conceal the age-related changes to the skin, many in this age group are searching for specific products that can help in a positive, healthy way. Thus, there is opportunity for more targeted solutions that move beyond simply targeting wrinkles.
“British brand White Hot Haircare is ahead of the game on this which, rather than seeking to conceal gray hair, focuses on the positive aspects of aging and aims to support women seeking to transition to their natural gray or white hair,” said Mills.
A Game of Trial & Error
In Asia, Japanese cosmetics giant Shiseido has become a major contender in this category having tried, tested, and in some instances, failed, with various product lines targeted at seniors. Take for example, the launch of the Elixir Prior range in 2008; it featured emollients to improve skin firmness after extensive research linked skin discoloration and sagging to poor blood circulation.
The line was aimed at women over 60 across various markets on the region. It came in pink packaging, a color said to be popular with older consumers and featured spokeswoman Bibari Maeda, a 67-year old veteran Japanese actress. The products failed to gain sustained popularity though, which sent Shiseido back to the lab, this time focusing on the development of hair and skin care, as well as color cosmetics formulated to reduce age spots and wrinkles, for the 50+ age group in Japan.
The Prior range, launched in 2015, has gained much better footing thanks, in part, to the use of realistic, older-looking models who reflected the product offering, promoting healthy aging and personal expression. With 44% of the Japanese population forecast to be aged 55 and over by 2025, the brand’s products and indeed, an accompanying new website launch with “a young-at-heart” focus, represents how the industry is starting to react and better identify with this demographic.
Things to Come
What’s ahead for the silver set? According to Canadean’s Mills, inter-generational positioning is set to become the norm as age becomes less relevant to seniors. According to Mills, pigeon-holing consumers by age may not necessarily resonate in the future, particularly as the age-embracement trend develops and lifestyle is ranked as the most important factor when making product choices. In fact, she reports that this approach has already gained traction in the fashion industry with the likes of Dolce and Gabbana’s Fall/Winter 2015 campaign, which opted for intergenerational models to highlight the inclusive nature of their clothing line.
Michelle Yeomans is an award winning multimedia journalist. She has been reporting on cosmetics industry movements in EMEA, US and Asia for five years and has won an award for her coverage of the complexities of operating in the Middle East. Michelle’s passion lies in tracking the beauty culture and trends of the Asia Pacific region. Ever the AV enthusiast, she also relishes the opportunity to create engaging video and podcast content for the B2B industry.