How Brands Are Targeting The Senior Citizen Demographic
“This [financial and lifestyle] shift [among seniors] brings with it both opportunities and challenges for apparel retailers.” Kondej told me.
It’s true: While some companies–like, say, American Apparel–are beginning to target the elderly demographic, a demo that, let’s be honest, probably wasn’t on their radar a couple of years ago, brands that have always marketed to the over-65 crowd have to try different strategies to talk to this ‘new’ senior citizen.
“I have seen campaigns use older models in a very patronizing way,” Cohen said. But in 2012, that no longer flies. The elderly today are not just white-haired grandmas and grandpas: They’re vibrant, empowered individuals with a life and style all their own (though, of course, they may still be grandmas and grandpas). One need only to look at Cohen’s blog for proof. On a recent post, Cohen wrote about his friend Rose, an NYC woman with a busy social calendar who just happens to be 100-years-old. “[Rose and the Advanced Style ladies] have great attitudes, keep busy, and live their lives to the fullest,” Cohen wrote.
Women as inspiring and stylish as Rose–and many of the other Advanced Style subjects–can’t be ignored by the fashion industry anymore.
“For the past few years brands have been reaching out to me for help with how to reach this important demographic,” Cohen said. “The most simple advice I can give is to feature men and women that relate to the demographic a brand is trying to reach. Older people want to see someone they can relate to and can be inspired by. Make campaigns uplifting, inspiring, and aspirational.”
Slowly but surely, the way seniors are being targeted in ads is beginning to change–and that’s creating more and more opportunity for older models. In the past, elderly models had been relegated to dusty ‘age-appropriate’ jobs like fronting a pharmaceutical ad, or shilling assisted living products. No longer. In the span of her career, Sicular has worked with such talents as Carol Alt, Carmen Dell’Orefice and Beverly Johnson-–women who scream high fashion not adult diapers. And if HBO’s new documentary About Face has taught us anything, it’s that these classic supermodels, now in their fifties, sixties, and seventies, are no less beautiful–or captivating–then when they began their careers.
“[My approach has been] to build up the [Legends] division to mirror the younger division, letting the clients see how beautiful these women are, demanding similar pay structures, demanding the respect they deserve and placing these models in the most prestigious magazines, campaigns, television commercials and catalogs” Sicular told us. “I’m very lucky, as I’ve been working at Trump Model Management [and our] President, Corinne Nicolas really ‘got it.’”
In turn, these stunning older models have given regular senior folk a high fashion image to aspire to–and, along with people like Cohen’s Rose, they’re helping to smash preconceived notions about what it means to age.