How an Aging Population Is Changing the Mind of the Market
#8 More authentic – Humility over hubris; less tolerant of puffery in marketing communications, prefer reality to unrealistic idealism.
Jamie Lee Curtis both stunned and charmed middle age and older
women across the country when she appeared in the September 2002 issue of More
in sweat halter top and briefs, displaying a widening girth. She had agreed
to be the cover story only if the magazine showed “the real Jamie Lee Curtis”
in an unretouched picture taken without special lighting. (See the "real" Jamie.)
Said Jamie, “I don’t have great thighs. I have very big breasts and a soft, fatty little tummy. Glam Jamie, the perfect Jamie…it’s such a fraud.”
Jamie Lee said in the More article that she’s used a litany of age-fighting methods from Botox to liposuction but now has renounced them all.
“The more I like me, the less I want to pretend to be other people,” said the torridly sexy star of True Lies. At age 43, Jamie Lee – right on schedule – has switched from the social-actualization track of life to the self-actualization track.
Her midlife paradigm shift from focus on the outer world to focus on the inner self promotes the self-honesty that was displayed in the More article. As her self-honesty grows richer in authenticity, she will become less tolerant of those who lack authenticity.
For decades, marketers have heavily stressed the ideal – the ideal lifestyle, the ideal mate, the ideal children, and – the ideal woman. It was a good strategy when teens and twentysomethings ruled the marketplace because, still saturated with the idealism of youth, anything less than the ideal was an unwelcome compromise.
However, as midlife approaches idealism begins to be replaced by pragmatic realism. The Madison Avenue ethos of idealism begins being perceived as wantonly unauthentic. The brand managers of Unilever’s Dove Soap have recognized this as previously noted several times in this space, first in August and again at the beginning of this thread in February.
From time immemorial the young have taken measures to enhance attributes they believe they have going for them and other measures that minimize attributes that social consensus deems less attractive. It’s all part of the mating game – not just among humans. The young of myriad creatures of fur and feather, far and wide, strut their stuff in search of – the ideal mate. However, when the most biologically fecund years of our lives are in the past, the urge to strut dissipates.
The fact that most people are now beyond their peak strutting years, authenticity in marketing communications has risen to crucial importance. “Be real, not emptily idealistic,” the midlife soul calls out to marketers.
The relatively newly achieved majority status of people 40 and older has already influenced the marketplace behavior of the young in many ways. It will be interesting to see how the expectations of marketing authenticity this New Customer Majority has will influence the expectations of the New Customer Minority – the formerly “much coveted” 16-39-year-olds.