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Why Brands Need to Address Their Customers as “Bold,” Not “Old”

People five or more decades into life don’t feel old—so don’t call them that.

This reaction against the tired, well-trodden stereotypes of aging was one of Euromonitor’s global consumer trends for 2019, shared in a webinar Thursday.

Millennials get all the credit for being the “values” generation but it turns out that across the board, consumers of all ages wanted to their ideals and interests to take top billing, not the arbitrary calendar date and year in which they happened to be born. Plus, advances in health care and technology are helping people with dozens of birthdays under their belts stay connected, live longer and feel better than ever before. In fact, the greatest consumers of products made by Apple are men over the age of 65, according to David Stewart, founder of Ageist, a brand that’s giving a new face to the AARP crowd. Even AARP’s undergone a facelift to cater a demographic that’s staying active as sexagenarians and beyond.

Around the world people aged 50 and older make up the fastest-growing cohort, with China expected to see the largest growth among this group by 2025, according to Euromonitor data. The company described age-related labels as “alienating” and encouraged brands to adjust their messaging to speak to consumers’ affinities.

“To win now, it is less about conceptualizing consumers in obvious ways but rather embracing the openness of accepting everyone in creating universal design across generations, addressing the aging demographic in subtle and nuanced approaches and moving away from sub-segmenting consumers and marketing to them as old,” Euromonitor said.

Apparel and accessories chain store Chico’s seemingly opted for this strategy when it refreshed its brand a year ago. “Through two years of research, Chico’s discovered that most of its customers don’t define themselves by age and care deeply about expressing themselves through fashion,” the company said in a press release.

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Diane Ellis, who was brand president at the time, noted in the release that Chico’s is “uniquely positioned to speak authentically on aging with positivity.” She added that the brand’s selection of tops, bottoms, dresses, swimwear and more is “specifically designed for women, and their changing bodies, of all ages.”

As part of the reboot, Chico’s embarked on a social media campaign with the hashtag #HowBoldAreYou—its cheeky spin on the age-old question. The push challenged customers to post photos and videos of themselves living life to the fullest in their middle-aged years, wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the hashtag and bearing their individual ages.

Chico’s efforts align with Euromonitor’s call for brands to “think more creatively” in order to win the loyalty of mature consumers. Taking a lifestyle rather than stage-of-life approach to marketing could resonate with retirement-age individuals, the firm added.