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Whether you're setting up a business or looking for employment, make sure you're marketable over 50


Why is it that brands do not understand women over 50 , what we want to buy, and how we want to be sold to??

Article by Ceri Wheeldon

What can I say. Just as I think we are making progress in terms of changing perceptions of women over 50, a series of things happen that make me realise we still have a long way to go!

Why is it that so many brands are out of touch with the way women in our age group live our lives, and what we want to buy?

marketing to over 50s image

I get inundated with press releases from brands wanting to highlight their range of products and services – and have them showcased on the Fab after Fifty website. Most start with ‘we know your readers will love our new…….’ Then follows a host of images of clothes even my grandmother would not have worn. Long skirts with elastic waists, sturdy lace up shoes, shapeless cardigans and jackets. When I point out that readers of Fab after Fifty would prefer to clothes which are more stylish, the response is always that the clothes are aimed at the over 50s, and that I’m wrong.  Most of us don’t want phone handsets with large keypads designed especially for us, I point out- we are quite happy with our iphones or Samsung Galaxy’s. Many, not taking no as an answer via email, then call me.

The calls

I obviously don’t understand what my readers want, they tell me. Also, as I’m over 50, it seems that many young PR people seem to think that I need them to speak very s-l-o-w-y and very loudly. I obviously haven’t heard or understood how wrong I am in not thinking that their very unflattering clothes/products/services are exactly what we have all been waiting for. If they speak more slowly perhaps I will see the error of my way of thinking. I have lost count with the number of times that I have had to explain that what they are offering is not in line with how we women over 50 or 60 live today. Have they even bothered to look at the website?

I also get tired of explaining that we don’t want clothes targeted at us worn by 20 year old models, nor do we want a woman of 50 portrayed as having a blue rinse sitting in her rocking chair.

It does highlight, though, that by ignoring what we, as consumers want, they are missing the opportunity to sell to us. As our demographic continues to grow, brands really need to understand that we are a generation with our finger on the pulse. We are vibrant women, living busy lives, and the products we choose to buy reflect that. If they continue to ignore us, it will be to their detriment, and those brands that do listen, and market or sell to us in the right way will be the winners.

I would love your thoughts on this topic.

Who do you think has got it right when it comes to delivering products that we want to buy, and marketing in a way that we can relate to?


Ceri Wheeldon

Ceri is Founder and Editor of Fabafterfifty.co.uk She is a frequent speaker at events and in the media on topics related to women over 50 , including style and living agelessly. With 20+ years experience as a headhunter Ceri also now helps support those looking to extend their working lives.

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  1. Tracy Craze

    August 30, 2013

    I turned fifty a couple of years ago and frustrated by the lack of choice on the High Street for women like me I decided to start my own ladies clothing business! I specialise in floaty, feminine clothes which are designed to skim over the bits we may not want show off while still looking sexy and feeling comfortable. The big high street names just don’t get it but as a fifty two year old with the desire to look fabulous, I invest time and energy in getting it right!

  2. Joanna

    August 30, 2013

    Maybe we should take a lesson from our youth – the over 18s disco at 16 years old, the over 21s at 18 – but turn it on its head – over 50s products at 60 – over 60s at 70 etc.

  3. karenjonesgowen

    August 30, 2013

    All I can say is these marketers clearly are not even close to 50, most likely in their early 20s. I recently heard my 22 year old daughter in law refer to a lady in one of her college classes as “the old lady in my class.” I happen to be 65, and I said, “I bet this ‘old lady’ is younger than me.” My daughter in law then said, “I think she’s about 50.”

  4. facebook_ycoogan

    August 30, 2013

    I had to laugh at the thought of elasticated waists, sturdy lace up’s and long skirts. Yes, that’s just what young people think old women should wear, because anyone over 35 is old to them. Most buyers are too young, when will some of the big names have a wider age group of staff, they really are missing the sales. The first retailer who really gets it right will make a fortune, sadly they are chasing the very young and trying to make us buy fuddy duddy old stuff that we don’t want.

  5. Laraine Bridges

    August 31, 2013

    Most women over 50 ( and 60, like me) are far more stylish than women in their 30 and 40s. We have the money to spend on fashion and also have the time to shop because we are not busy looking after a family. We have learnt what suits us and realise that we need to work a little harder at looking good.

  6. Sam Bridger

    August 31, 2013

    Well said. Sadly it’s down to clueless 25 year old trendies in PR & digital agencies… They seem to think 50 = 70, and forget we were strutting our stuff in the 1980s (not the 1880s)!

  7. Gillian Leaver

    August 31, 2013

    Obviously they misunderstand the difference between middle age and elderly and that we are from a generation that do not have old fashioned attitudes. In fact we were misunderstood by our parents in the 60s and 70s. I do remember someone at 40 seeming old because they dressed old. Doesn’t (or shouldn’t happen now).

  8. PRT

    August 31, 2013

    There isn’t a single retailer that I can point to as getting it right. Every once in a while I’ll see something promising (Not Your Daughters Jeans comes to mind), but not often at all. I’ve decided to learn to sew so that I can make and style my own clothes. So tired of my department store choices being either “teenage streetwalker” or “given up on life” style options.


    August 31, 2013

    Seems like there are younger people at the top in the companies, so they really can only cater for the young. I tend to just buy what I feel suits my shape. For instance I will add nice long tops with my jeans as opposed to small tiny tops that are clearly for flat stomachs. I suppose its about trying to be creative in putting things together. I never buy anything now without trying it on anyway, so I know if it suits me, or look better on someone younger. It can be frustrating though. The only other option is getting clothes made.

    • Ceri Wheeldon

      September 2, 2013

      Hopefully more retailers will begin to listen – after all we are too big a group to ignore!

  10. Gill Cato

    August 31, 2013

    Agree with comments so far. I turned 60 last month and retired – so I have more time to look in the shops!! I find I either see stuff that my daughter would like, or that my grandmother would have worn. I am intending to get out my sewing machine and re-ignite my love of dressmaking. Yes, my figure is sagging a bit, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to look stylish.

    • Ceri Wheeldon

      September 2, 2013

      good luck with your dressmaking – I’ve been thinking of doing similar 🙂

  11. facebook_SuzyMontymodel

    August 31, 2013


    I buy most of my clothes at Charity Shops and Seconds Shops, because I can’t afford, as a pensioner to buy some of the High Street Brands. I sometimes shop at Dorothy Perkins when their sales are on and also New Look because I love the trendy styles and bright colours. But I am ALWAYS out for a bargain. As is my hubby. We’ve both bought some lovely stylish, good quality clothes at Charity Shops and the fact it is for a good cause rather than just profits for High Street Chain stores, is a bonus, we feel…

  12. Juliet Landau-Pope

    August 31, 2013

    I’m a newbie to this site – just turned 50 this week but have disliked shopping for years! To be fair, however, some retailers seem to be making some effort to sell to women aged 50+. M&S recruited Twiggy (now 60-something) to design and promote her own range. And as a professional declutterer, I love the M&S Shwopping campaign, fronted by the stylish Joanna Lumley, also in her 60s.

  13. Jan

    August 31, 2013

    If I get one more letter asking me if I want to sort out my funeral now to save my loved ones the anguish I will screem…..

  14. Julie

    August 31, 2013

    I could not agree more! I receive a constant stream of junk -mail offering me stair-lifts, will-making services, hideous “sensible” shoes, sacking and tents claiming to be clothes, and samples of incontinence pads for goodness sake!! None of these things have any relevance in my life whatsoever, although they do give my teenage son a giggle! The marketing people are clearly missing a trick, and unless they take off the blinkers, and shed their prejudiced view of ladies of our generation, they will continue to do so! I do think some of it is down to the fact that they WANT us to conform to their image of us, as their younger target demographic may be put off buying clothing, products, etc. aimed at them if they see us wearing/using them! I recall my daughter being somewhat put out that I’d already bought the jeggings she was planning to buy! The fact that I would pair them with completely different tops (Probably things she would wear as dresses!) was lost on her! If she wanted it, then I should accept I’m too old for it! Simples – in her eyes at least!

    • Ceri Wheeldon

      September 2, 2013

      I once asked for a press shot of an outfit – once they found out it was for a site for women over 50 I was told they did not want their brand associated with women of our age group – in case it upset their younger customers!

  15. Joan Yeomans

    August 31, 2013

    I am thoroughly fed up of receiving mail trying to get me to take out life insurance to pay for my funeral. I am bombarded with this type of mail. Do companies assume that just because you are over the age of 55 that you have one foot in the grave?

  16. Wendy Eade

    September 1, 2013

    Hi Fab after Fifty
    I think I’ve got it right! I produce a line of sleepwear for women who suffer from night sweats but…. I don’t want to look like a granny going to bed and nor do my customers!

    • Ceri Wheeldon

      September 2, 2013

      Sounds like a fabulous idea – hope your business is thriving!

  17. Penelope Whiteley

    September 1, 2013

    I agree 150%!
    I became so disenchanted with the clothing that is available, I decided to start my own label. Drastic steps, but I was seriously over being unable to find something to wear that was smart, chic, stylish and made me feel terrific; it’s hard to find anything that isn’t suited to the 18 – 25 age group, or your granny.
    Manufacturers (of almost anything), apparently have no idea that we don’t crawl into a coffin at 50+, and lie waiting for the inevitable. They have no inkling that we we still feel 18 inside but have a differently shaped body to dress; that we are not brain-dead because of our age; and most importantly, that we have reached a stage in our lives in which we have disposable income!
    This situation has to be redressed now, or we shall be guilty of perpetuating ‘the system’ for the next, and future generations …

    • Ceri Wheeldon

      September 2, 2013

      Totally agree Penelope – we must change perceptions – for ourselves and for future generations!

  18. facebook_ycoogan

    September 3, 2013

    Ceri, it must make you so cross when a brand says they won’t allow a press short for this site because it might upset it’s younger customers. Retail is about profit, don’t they realise we have money to spend and very often nothing can be found to spend it on. Generally we have more disposable income and we work hard to look good and feel good. Lets throw the gauntlet down and challenge the big brands to get real and come up with the goods we want. No wonder we have lost names from the High Street, more will follow because they are missing a large section of women with real buying power.

  19. Dee

    September 16, 2013

    Hi Ceri
    now this is bit naughty but I hope you can see the funny side and the irony?
    Many years ago my mum went on S.A.G.A. holidays and I laughingly joked with her that the initials stood for the Silly. Auld. Gets. Association.
    I really did, at that time, associate the initials with an old persons club.

    Imagine my horror on turning 50 when the first promotional literature that fell onto my mat was invitation to join S.A.G.A.

    I didn’t join and the strange thing is I never will, no matter how good they are as I just cant help linking them to oldies?

    Granted this generation of over 50s are I

  20. Dee

    September 16, 2013

    im so sorry I hit the send button by mistake !

    As I was saying I will never join S.A.G.A regardless of their reputation or standing. I’m not ageist by any means but there are some things that we just don’t want to be compartmentalised in to and its true some marketers just don’t get it.

    Its like the insurance ad for AVIVA or was it AXA I wouldn’t by their product if hell had hold of me, for no other reason than, their constant interruption of Downtown Abbey every few minutes drove me insane and so in my world I will punish them for spoiling my viewing by not buying their product.

    We are at times strange creatures but we know what we like !!!!

    kind regards


  21. barbara martin

    October 24, 2013

    Does anyone know where the blue dress that joanne lumley wears in the Axa advertbis from. I love it, my type of dress but can’t find anything like it anywhere.

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