Zooming in on the mature female consumer

Zoomer ladies love to travel, browse the net, eschew nostalgia, and other interesting stats on this prime demographic.

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By Jennifer Lomax

Zoomer has become the term of choice to describe people in their 50s, 60s and 70s who want to remain socially and culturally engaged and active.

As with millennials, the demographic and sociographic profile of Zoomers is somewhat grey. And, many of the briefs that pass through Harbinger are focused on the under-45 woman (perhaps rightly so), but what if I told you that zoomers have more in common with young singles than you might think?

Given the large, growing zoomer population and other macro trends pertaining to women in the workforce and having children later in life, this segment is worth a closer look.

Consider this:

  • There are more than eight million women over the age of 45 in Canada, representing more than 45% of the total female population; women 55+ represent more than 30% of Canadian women
  • This segment is the only one that will increase as a percentage of the total Canadian adult population over the next 20 years

To shed a little light on this influential group, based on our female consumer 2014 study, Harbinger assembled a list of facts about the North American female zoomer and how she compares to younger segments.

She remains the chief purchase officer for her household/ family:

  • She is involved in more than 96% of household purchase decisions
  • 59% live with their spouse (compared to 52% of people under 55)
  • 10% still have at least one child living at home

She buys big ticket items for her home:

  • Of Canadians who spent $1,000 or more on furniture and appliance in the past 12 months, half were zoomers

She is a heavy consumer of internet and TV:

  • She surfs the internet for 6.3 hours per week, one-and-a-half hours more per week than younger segments
  • She watches nearly twice the amount of TV each week (17 hours versus 9.6 hours)

She still cares about her appearance:

  • 38% consider her personal appearance a high/critical priority
  • She spends 4.4 hrs per week on personal grooming, nearly 30 minutes more than the average woman under 55

She is a frequent at home cook:

  • She spends 6.8 hours per week preparing meals at home, over an hour and a half more per week than younger segments
  • She spends nearly one quarter of her household income (24%) on food and grocery
  • Nearly half (48%) of shoppers who spend $150 or more on food shopping every week are older than 45

She is (or aspires to be) a traveller:

  • 37% report high or very high interest in travel
  • 20% consider travel a high or critical priority (versus 23% of younger than 55s)
  • No other age group travels as much or spends as much when they travel; zoomers represent the largest market for virtually every category of travel

She places high value on morals and ethics:

  • More than younger segments, she describes her ideal self as ethical (61% versus 44% of younger women)
  • 63% named morals and ethics among her top five values (versus 59%)

She is more pragmatic and functional in her approach to selecting brands:

  • The 55-plus group is significantly less likely to name “nostalgia,” “makes me feel good,”or “brand gets me” as influencers than younger segments; zoomers over-index for “brand does what it says it will do” and “delivers good value”

So what does this mean for marketers?

Despite the fact that many mass marketers choose to forgo the large and growing zoomer segment, data paints the picture of a highly engaged and lucrative market.  Afterall, by many definitions, a zoomer is a boomer “with zip” who likely thinks and behaves younger than her biological years.

With more free time and disposable income, this segment remains a heavy consumer of many of the very same categories as younger segments. Specifically, she continues to care for her appearance, she prepare meals at home, she purchases gifts for her kids or grandkids, she buys vehicles, enjoys entertainment and travels. So why is her likeness dominantly associated with retirement, healthcare and aging? This woman is busy living!

It’s time for marketers to reevaluate who is shopping in their brand categories, and explore the role of the zoomer as an influencer and decision-maker. This is not to say that all brands and categories should be chasing the mature woman, but (unintentionally) alienating this powerful female consumer group could be a very costly mistake.

Jennifer_Lomax_Headshot[1]Jennifer Lomax is is VP strategic planning at Harbinger.