Power Dressing - The Baby Boomer Woman And The Executive Woman Have Unique Needs
" I am tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That's deep enough. What do you want, an adorable pancreas?" ~ Jean Kerr, author and playwright
by Mary Jo Feldstein, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
These are facts we're sure you know!
Research shows that the baby boomer woman and the executive woman have unique needs. She'll spend more on herself now and she's more conscious of value, comfort, fit and wearability. What she wears must have an edge, but it can't be the somethings that her daughter wears.
Why bother courting the more mature ladies? Spending power.
Their children are gone, they're still working and, in some cases, they're receiving inheritances from parents. All those income streams give baby boomers a pool of discretionary income larger than any generation before, said Marti Barletta, author of "Marketing to Women" and chief executive of TrendSight Group, a marketing firm in suburban Chicago.
And because they feel younger and fitter than their mothers did at the same age, they want to spend some of that extra cash to dress better, Barletta said. She calls them PrimeTime Women.
"Baby boomer women are the No. 1, big-money opportunity for any industry but particularly for the apparel industry because so little is being done to create the kind of clothes they're looking for," Barletta said. "The concentration of spending power among PrimeTime Women is the most powerful in the mass market."
Boomer women accounted for $30.8 billion in apparel spending - nearly double the amount Gen Xers paid for clothes - during the 12-month period ending last June, according to NPD Group, a consumer tracking firm in Port Washington, N.Y.
Department stores still claimed the largest share of boomers' clothing dollars, but specialty stores lagged only 1.5 percent behind.
Though many retail experts consider Chico's the classic example of boomer fashion, a growing number of competitors are entering or expanding in the market.
Catalog companies, including J. Jill and Coldwater Creek, stock boomer-friendly clothes and are opening retail stores. At the higher end, Talbots and Eileen Fisher are focusing on this shopper, too.
Even discounter Target Corp. recently introduced two brands geared toward a more mature customer. And popular retailers Gap Inc., Gymboree Corp. and OshKosh B'Gosh Inc. all have plans to expand into the age 35-plus market with new specialty shops.
Although baby boomers technically include people born between 1946 and 1964, many of these retailers are targeting women age 35 and up to expand the possible customer base.
Upbin said he's not surprised that women in this age group have flocked to specialty stores, because department stores were not offering the apparel and accessories or service they were seeking.
This deeper-pocketed female consumer's aspirations and taste have given rise to the new "mass luxury movement," where the mainstream public has become aware and acquisitive of designer and brand names previously solely in the domain of the affluent. Karl Lagerfeld, the doyen of haute couture, designed pieces for mass retailer H&M that sold out in hours, and discounter Target (TGT) has such names as Isaac Mizrahi, Cynthia Rowley, and Liz Lange in its stable of designers. Brands like Coach (COH) are making handbags and key chains at lower price points, and Mercedes (DCX) and BMW (BMW ) are putting out cars middle-class consumers can afford. that
St. Louis Post-Dispatch April 24, 2005
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