News Flash! Women Love Clothes: Marketing Fashion to Boomer Women

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 2.54.43 PMFashion industry, listen up. Do you know that the average clothing size of an American woman is size 14? “Average” means that fully half of the female population is larger than a size 14, and because of the childbirth thing and the gravity thing, I guarantee you more than half of Boomer women are larger than size 14. If I know that, how come you don’t know that?

At least, it doesn’t look like you know, because most of your mannequins and models look to be about size 2 or 4. Can the average woman, who couldn’t be more different from Heidi Klum if she were a fish, identify with that? (Rhetorical question.)

Most Boomer women love clothes! They love fabrics, textures, embroidery, elegance, lines, shape, drape and color. And they are at the peak of their wealth and income—right now. They want to buy clothes. And it appears that very few of you want to sell to them.

There are a few exceptions. Chico’s, of course—which is a phenomenally successful brand. Coldwater Creek, whose customers send them glowing fan mail. Nordstrom definitely, because they always “get” what’s going on with women. L.L. Bean, because they are one of the most “authentic” companies out there. But beyond those? Hmmm…

I have a dear friend who works for a major department store chain. A huge part of their business is women’s apparel. I was talking with him about this size 14 thing, and he said, “Yeah, Marti, we tried that, but the problem was, with larger models, it’s hard to make the merchandise look as good.” Well, there’s your problem right there! It’s not about the models making the merchandise look good. It’s about the merchandise making the models look good.

Here’s a secret that will make you a million dollars: to make Boomer women love your clothes, you need to make clothes that love Boomer women. It’s that simple.

Marketing Fashion to Boomer Women

I have a “blast from the past” story to illustrate my point.

About 20 years ago, a woman I know who’s a little on the heavy side was shopping in the New York garment district and happened upon a store with gorgeous Joan Vass cotton knit skirts and sweaters. They felt like cashmere, and they even came in her size. Of course, she would never buy knits because when you’re on the heavy side, the last thing you want is fabric that clings to your bumps and bulges. A saleswoman invited her to try on something, and she declined, telling her why. “Nonsense,” said the saleswoman, “That’s because you don’t know how to wear knits.”

They went into the dressing room and the saleswoman showed her how to wear the sweaters bloused up to give them drape, instead of pulled down over the hips; how shoulder pads and pushing up the sleeves to just below the elbow raise the visual center of gravity, guided her away from mid-calf skirts and sold her on the knee-length (contrary to contemporary conventional wisdom), because she had slim, shapely legs.

In other words, the saleswoman didn’t focus on the clothes. She focused on the woman who would be wearing them. She provided useful information and helped her feel good about herself. This woman walked out of there with three garment bags stuffed with outfits, and for years, wore Joan Vass for work, socializing and special occasions. Later she said to me, “That advice made all the difference in the world. Why didn’t I know this stuff before? Where the hell is the fashion industry?”

Boomer women want a different product than their younger cohorts do. She wants fashion that flatters the figure she has, not the figure fashion designers wish she had. She knows mini-skirts may not make her look her best, but cropped pants and capris can cover many flaws and still show a shapely ankle. She isn’t looking for bustiers or jeggings. She knows princess seams, a deep V-neck, three-quarter length sleeves and a little light shoulder padding can slenderize her waist and pull the center of gravity up off her hips. And tiny dressing rooms cramp her style, literally.

Boomer women have a passion for fashion. They want to look fabulous, and your job is to help them. They want to give you their money. Where are you?

This entry was posted in Importance of Aesthetics, Marketing to Boomer Women, Women as customers and tagged , , , on by .

About Marti

To The Huffington Post, she’s “the High Priestess of Marketing to Women;” to TIME magazine, “the Chief Rabbi of the Sheconomy.” Renowned business guru Tom Peters calls her “the First Lady of Marketing to Women” and says she “is one of the best presenters, male or female, I’ve ever seen.” Marti Barletta shows you how to get more customers, make more money per customer and keep customers loyal longer - simply by getting smarter about women. Her first book, Marketing to Women, is available in 19 languages,” and her latest book, PrimeTime Women, focuses in on the market’s high-spending sweet spot - Boomer women in their mid-life prime – and shows marketers how to use this prime segment’s growth, size and buying power to propel their business for the next 20 years. As the go-to authority on marketing to women, women in leadership and women’s growing role in shaping the 21st century, Barletta has been quoted on CBS, ABC, MSNBC and NPR, as well as in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Economist, USA Today, Fast Company, TIME, Business Week, Inc., and many other publications worldwide. Ms. Barletta’s consulting clients have included Diageo, Ford, Kodak, Pfizer, Volvo Worldwide and others. A popular speaker internationally, she has enjoyed rave reviews on every continent except Antarctica, including in Australia, Chile, Dubai, Japan and Sweden. She has spoken for hundreds of companies, conferences and associations; and across dozens of industries, including consumer products, financial services, travel and tourism, retail and real estate development, to name a few. She is proud to say that numerous clients have booked her for return appearances. Her dynamic style, command of her subject and passion for her topic make her a popular speaker. Audiences love her practical tactics tailored to the interests of each audience, her lively style and sense of humor, and her memorable stories about men, women and marketing. Specialties:I show you how to attract more customers, keep them longer, and earn more money from every customer simply by getting smarter about today's mightiest market - women.

6 thoughts on “News Flash! Women Love Clothes: Marketing Fashion to Boomer Women

  1. Metrofahsion

    Very informative!
    By the way, the sales person was very clever with this comment: “That’s because you don’t know how to wear knits.”
    looking at it, I myself could not agree less.

    Reply
  2. veronica

    Very informative, and educational for me, I am a seamstress host of my client are baby boomers (like me) looking to learn more. Thank you Martin Barletta.

    Reply

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