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Beauty at Every Stage: The Body Shop, Dove, Primark and Markarian (Finally) Embrace Aging

It’s no secret that brands, retailers, and American culture have long marketed and celebrated youth – often with the not-so-subtle implication that aging should be counteracted, reversed, or at least disguised. Ageism has long plagued US retail with a bias toward marketing and catering to younger generations despite the outsized wealth and purchasing power wielded by Baby Boomers. While the anti-aging market remains a multi-billion-dollar industry, we are now seeing a shift in the conversation and examples of leaders, especially women, who are entering the forefront of embracing aging. They are celebrating their accomplishments and priceless wisdom and are holding brands accountable for representing them with respect and with honesty. This week, marketing savvy Goop-founder Gwyneth Paltrow turned 50 with aplomb and this year Forbes brought back their first-of-its-kind list dedicated to recognizing women over the age of 50 for their contributions across every sector of business, politics, science and society.

Today we are inspired to highlight recent developments from leading brands who have taken note of this important change in the cultural conversation and are shattering long-standing norms that center on youth. Read on for some of the strategies in beauty and fashion that reflect a society that is embracing aging in refreshing new ways rather than shunning it.

The Body Shop Renames Popular Anti-Aging Product

According to the company, The Body Shop sells a bottle of its best-selling Drops of Youth serum every 23 seconds. Despite the product’s widespread popularity, The Body Shop recently changed the product’s name from “Drops of Youth” to “Edelweiss Daily Serum Concentrate” (vignettes comparing the name change below) in a bid to celebrate every life stage. The brand stated, “we’re ripping up beauty industry norms and shifting the dial from youth to strength.” Not only that, but The Body Shop also reformulated the serum to double the concentration of edelweiss, so the name change also reflects that difference and focuses more on the ingredients rather than the anti-aging effects. The power of language in marketing must not be underestimated as it can have a huge impact on how much a product sells. Language and culture are in tandem and The Body Shop’s decision to make this change to one of its best-selling products is definitely a step in the right direction.

product's new naming

Photo Credit: The Body Shop

Dove Turns Up the Volume on Social to Protest Age Discrimination

Lisa Laflamme, Canada’s CTV anchor was fired suddenly after 35 years with the network after she refused to dye her gray hair. In response, Dove switched their logo from their signature gold to gray to protest ageism and sexism in the workplace.


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A post shared by Dove Global Channel 🌎 (@dove)

Dove released an Instagram campaign with a hashtag #KeepTheGrey, encouraging Instagram users to grayscale their profile pictures to break the stigma surrounding gray hair. This move is very on brand for Dove, as they have long been a champion of real beauty and not touching up their models.

Primark Launches Apparel Collection for Menopause

UK fashion retailer Primark launched a collection of menopause apparel encompassing nightwear, underwear and base layers to be worn under other clothing. The line is made with recycled plastic and features sweat-wicking, temperature regulating and anti-bacterial properties. The apparel uses cooling yarns to relieve hot flashes and sweating and then uses the absorbed heat for any post-hot flash chills, both of which are common symptoms of menopause.

base layers

Photo Credit: Primark

clothing tags

Photo Credit: Primark

Not only are these products technical, chic and stylish, but they are also offered at an extremely competitive price point from £7-12 in the UK, and under $20 for a more limited selection in the US. This level of accessibility is a huge win for Primark when it comes to building customer loyalty and trust.

Markarian Features Older Models at NYFW

Earlier this month, Markarian featured older models at New York Fashion Week (NYFW). NYFW is notoriously associated with being premium, luxury, and expensive and using older models demonstrates that older women can be and are fashionable.

model at New York fashion week

Photo Credit: Getty Images for NYFW: The Shows

Is Your Brand Keeping up with Today’s Inclusivity-Minded Consumer?

Many retailers fail to take into account the large population of older people in the US, and this is a huge missed opportunity as the older generation is waiting longer to retire and is living longer. Plus, people over the age of 65 own approximately 75% of the wealth, which is a staggering statistic for this generation to be excluded from marketing and product conversation. From a marketing point of view, it’s a no brainer to go after an older audience as a target market for retailers and brands such as The Body Shop, Dove, and Primark have all taken an interest in promoting aging as something to be embraced. We commend these brands that have expanded their thinking to consider all their customers and their needs.

Many retailers and consumers experience a bias towards wanting to be young and cool, but as the current generation in the spotlight, Gen Z is most interested in brands that are socially conscious. Today’s consumers are belief driven, and representation of the older generation and making all consumers feel represented is the future of retail. Get in touch with us to better understand the needs of your customers and stay up to date as we continue to spotlight inspiring trends in the retail industry. Follow along with us on our blog and our Instagram feed and stories.

Lucy Everett

Lucy provides research, planning and analysis support for McMillanDoolittle retail consulting projects. She also assists with consumer research planning, preparing presentations, and project administration.

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