A New Year resolution

Women Dec13Do you recognise any of these women?  Pictured in an excellent Financial Times article they are (left to right), New York Style icon Iris Apfel; model and actress Marisa Berenson; model and actress Lauren Hutton; fashion designer Jenny Kee; actress Meryl Streep.

Nothing difficult about that you may say – even if, like the blog, you remember the faces but not all the names.

But think about what they have in common, for a moment.  Yes, you’ve guessed, they are all BabyBoomers who are now in the New Old 55+ generation.  And as the FT comments, they are a forgotten generation as far as the retail industry is concerned:

The problem is that few clothing retailers have successfully managed to market to the baby-boomer women – ironic, given that advertising has for decades been geared to selling the postwar generation everything from blue jeans to Pepsi.”

The research director at retail advisory firm Verdict is even more specific:

Older shoppers have the disposable income but they are not necessarily spending it on clothes, because many retailers are not targeting them successfully….Most store groups are chasing younger shoppers, who are more driven by fashion and so are much easier to understand.”

The retail industry is not alone in its ignorance, of course.  Substitute the word ‘clothes’ for the products your company supplies.  How much of your production is aimed at the New Old?  How much of your Research and Development is spent on developing new products and services for them?  How much of your marketing effort is spent on them compared to younger generations?

The blog’s suggestion for a New Year resolution is that we all decide to wake up to the impact of the demographic changes underway

  • One in five of the global adult population were in the New Old generation 15 years ago
  • One in four are currently in the New Old
  • One in three will be in the New Old within 15 years

Increasing life expectancy should be good news for everyone.  People everywhere are living a decade longer than their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.  So would it not make good sense to focus your business on the opportunity this creates for increasing sales and profit?

The blog is already using the expertise it has gained in this area to help a number of well-known companies go up the learning curve as fast as possible.  It would be delighted to help you as well.

Happy New Year!

About Paul Hodges

Paul Hodges is Chairman of International eChem, trusted commercial advisers to the global chemical industry. He also serves as a Global Expert for the World Economic Forum. The aim of this blog is to share ideas about the influences that may shape the chemical industry and the global economy over the next 12 – 18 months. It looks behind today’s headlines, to understand what may happen next in critical areas such as oil prices, China and Emerging Markets, currencies, autos, housing, economic growth and the environment. Please do join me and share your thoughts. Between us, we will hopefully develop useful insights into the key factors that will drive the industry's future performance.

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