An Open letter to Australian Active Wear leading brands….
Lorna Jane, Rockwear, Running Bare, Abi & Joseph and the like, I’m talking to you.
(Actually, I’m also talking to any smaller, boutique Australian brands that are trying to establish themselves in this competitive, but growing retail space
I have some facts to present to you, that I have no doubt you are already aware of because of your fabulous marketing team, that I think need to be considered when you are pulling together your next advertising and social media campaign.
FACT: 50% of Australia’s population is over 37 years old.
FACT: The wealth of those 55 and over is growing faster than any other demographic in Australia which should naturally equate to higher levels of disposable income in this group.
FACT: Women over 40 like to shop….a LOT! And guess what? They exercise too! AND to top it off, they generally like to look and feel stylish too! Crazy I know, but it would seem that most of you ignore these obvious facts.
FACT: The Australian athleisure industry was predicted to increase in sales by more than 20% between 2015 and 2020 with a large proportion of goods sold online.
FACT: In 2016 the fitness apparel market in Australia was worth $105 billion with those born in the 70’s being some of the biggest fans according to Roy Morgan research.
FACT: A study conducted in Canada in 2012 showed that the purchase intent of women over 35 increased by up to 200 percent when they saw models in the ad campaign that reflected the age that they identified with.
FACT: When those same women saw models who didn’t reflect their age, their purchase intention decreased by 64 percent.
FACT: US active wear brand, Athleta, intentionally uses more mature models in their advertising campaigns and is one of the most successful fitness apparel companies in the US with annual growth of 25% since 2012.
SO with all of these facts that are really not subjective, the question I have to ask is…
WHY THE HELL are you all ignoring the purchasing power of the lucrative over 40’s market?
Across the board we see campaign after campaign in this retail sector featuring young, slim, impossibly beautiful models in all online and print advertising?
I’ve done the rounds, Rockwear, Lorna Jane, Running Bear, PE Nation, Abi & Joseph, Lululemon….. Online shopping pages, print catalogues, and social media. ALL portraying the same beautiful, youthful image and seemingly ignoring a HUGE and powerful consumer base that has the discretionary income to spend on your products!
The only catalogues I found with women that I personally could relate to as a 48 year old were produced by Target. And let me just say that Target do an outstanding job in utilising a range of models in their advertising that represent all ages, sizes and ethnic backgrounds. Unfortunately the more mature models in their catalogues were dressed in what I would consider more “leisure wear” rather than good, old fashioned get-hot-and-sweaty work out gear.
Do you not think that a woman past her 40’s likes to work out? To get sweaty? To raise her heart rate? To stay fit and healthy?
Do you not think that she would like to look attractive and trendy while working out?
Do you not worry that by continually showcasing your clothing on 20-30 something year old models that you might be alienating a large number of potential customers who don’t identify with those models?
Do you not WANT a slice of that increasingly wealthy 50+ pie??
I get it, I get it….you want to showcase your designs and fabrics on beautiful, youthful, slim models so that the overall image of the brand is represented as something very pleasing to the eye and an image to aspire to.
But you simply can’t ignore research that tells you that for a large majority of women this strategy no longer produces the results you desire. For many women this disconnect between the models being used in campaigns and their own identity is quite simply a turn off and barrier to purchase…..e.g. no sale!
Clearly you understand these principles as the move towards inclusiveness of body TYPES has definitely gathered momentum of late. Your efforts in recent years to embrace the #bodypositive message by showcasing a broader range of sizes, shapes and ethnicity in your ad campaigns is definitely worth applauding. This has been such a welcome initiative across the clothing industry by all women. Hopefully it will continue gathering speed and acceptance rather than just being a short-lived PR stunt by many brands.
So, again, if you can recognise that fashion-conscious women come in all shapes, sizes and colours, then why OH WHY can’t you understand that AGE is just as important?
I know that you can recognise an untapped market segment when you see it…evidence of this is the evolution of the “Yummy Mummy” market. Recent years have seen an EXPLOSION of products and services catering to this lucrative market which grew out of the recognition that, pregnant women and new mothers have money to spend, want to exercise, and of course, wish to look stylish in the process. This market has been a goldmine for the companies who understood the deep, intrinsic need that all women have and that is to feel GOOD about themselves no matter what stage of life they are at.
I mentioned the brand, Athleta, above who have dominated the US fitness apparel industry by including in their target market and advertising campaigns, the customer that the rest of the industry have largely ignored; mature women.
Left: A recent cover of an Athleta catalogue.
“In a category where youth, beauty, and weight are trumpeted by brands, marketers, and social media stars, Athleta has a different approach. It features middle-aged women in its catalogues and picks brand ambassadors that aren’t size 0… Fitness advertising — or any advertising, really — claims to be aspirational, but Athleta chief marketing officer Andrea Mallard points out that the tactic targets shoppers’ insecurities.
“Every marketing message in the world right now is largely about being terrible to women,” Mallard says. “You are never pretty enough, you’re never young enough, you're never thin enough, you’re never rich enough. All you have to do, really, is celebrate real women, and the power of it is to not make it feel like a big political act. Because you are allowed to be considered beautiful and interesting and powerful when you’re not 40 or younger anymore.”
“Moms (and grandmoms) do yoga, not just twentysomething Instagrammers. Using ‘realistic imagery of women’ is becoming more popular, but it’s been part of Athleta’s DNA.” ‘
The success of the Athleta brand financially speaks for itself.
They understand that the BS advertising strategies of old that prey on women’s insecurities by making them feel inadequate, or not ‘enough’ are largely ineffective and turning consumers away from the products rather than attracting or enticing them to purchase.
They avoid appearing patronising by creating campaigns that consistently showcase ALL of their core customers rather than scattering token images of larger models, older models and mixed races occasionally through their messages. The value of inclusiveness that the company holds is never under any doubt as the message is so beautifully and consistently delivered with every campaign that they launch.
So come on Lorna Jane.
How about it Rockwear?
Will you lead the change Running Bear?
I challenge just ONE of our fashionable, popular leading brands in the Australian active wear industry to lead the change towards being more #agepositive by catering to this growing pool of consumer wealth.
Give us something to aspire to that is REAL.
That is AUTHENTIC.
That we can IDENTIFY with.
As a frequent customer in this industry I want to see your amazing designs, beautiful fabrics and quality garments on someone my AGE!
And hold up…I don’t want to just see the occasional image of a 50+ woman in ‘leisure wear’ strolling through the park, or holding a yoga pose, or sitting outside a café drinking coffee.
I want to see her kicking butt in a boxing class.
I want to see her sweating in the gym doing squats.
I want to see her climbing a rock wall.
And I want to see her doing burpees at Bootcamp.
I want to see her mature, capable, fit and healthy body working out and having fun in your apparel.
Just like I would be!
And when I see that.
When I finally see a REAL, AUTHENTIC, INSPIRING role model in your clothing…..
THAT is when I’ll feel connected.
That’s when I’ll feel motivated to give you my money.
That’s when you will make the sale.
My money is here and waiting…now SHOW me why I should give it to you!
Here's to being irresistible!