ILC UK Research Finds Market Potential in Older Consumers

Research from the International Longevity Centre (ILC) in the United Kingdom recently revealed a £2.9 billion (21%), or about $3.8 billion, growth in spending on clothes and shoes by older people between 2011 and 2018.

“For too long, the fashion and beauty industries have been bewilderingly resistant to recognizing just how fashionable and stylish the generation of older consumers are and want to remain,” said Diane Kenwood, journalist, blogger and ILC Trustee. “The potential of these consumers is huge, and it has been shamefully side-lined. I do, though, sense a shift in attitudes starting to stir, and I’m hopeful that change will gather momentum. Helping to realize the potential of this demographic and the opportunities they offer is one of the key pillars of our work at the ILC.”

Speaking at the Future of Aging conference this week, a group of fashion and beauty industry experts will argue that the industry needs to address its institutional ageism if it is to make the most of the potential of increased spending by older people.

Research by the ILC in “Maximising the Longevity Dividend” will be published alongside the Future of Aging conference. The report predicts that spending on fashion and shoes by older people will increase by £11 billion (60%), or about $14.4 billion, from 2019 to 2040. By 2040, people aged 50 and over are expected to be the sector’s key consumer base.

“We baby boomers are ageing in a completely different way from our mothers and grandmothers,” added Tricia Cusden, founder of makeup brand for older women Look Fabulous Forever. “It’s time that the fashion and beauty industries wake up to the fact that we are generation fabulous not generation frump.”

“I couldn’t find stylish and effective clothing on the high street that would address my own menopausal night sweats (a natural part of the ageing process), and the only clothing I found on the internet was incredibly old fashioned and loose fitting in cotton, which would have left me as cold and damp as my bedding was,” said Jane Hallam, founder of Esteem – No Pause, clothing designed for women going through the menopause. “At 48 years old with a wardrobe of beautiful lingerie, I was not prepared to resign myself to a 1950s view of older woman nightwear and put up with damp nights for up to 10 years! Our bodies change in shape as we age, as do our physical requirements, but our sense of self-esteem and style remains.”

“Ageism means that the fashion industry still struggles to engage successfully with the older market, though it is worth many millions,” added Julia Twigg, professor of social policy and sociology at the University of Kent.

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