So, last week, no less a media authority than The Wall Street Journal told me that I am in for a lifetime of bad hair days. As a 50+ woman with two teenage children and a pretty happening marketing career, this came as unwelcome news. Evidently, our hair ages – just like our bones and teeth and skin and practically everything else…and the results aren’t necessarily pretty. Hair, it seems, can just look old.
I’m not talking about simply going grey (or “silver” if you prefer). The bottom line is that our hormones and body chemistry are changing and all this – plus a lifetime of blow dryers and tight ponytails – apparently conspire to make our hair thin, brittle and dull. Sadly, it appears that we must soon bid farewell to the long, shiny, silken tresses of our collective youth.
What’s a Boomer to do?
Fear not! As we have done since the Boomers emerged as Marketing’s Most Valuable Generation, leading companies including P&G, Unilever and L’Oreal are rushing to the rescue; filling the void with new products and formulations specifically targeted to women 50+. Nexxus (Unilever) rolled out “Youth Renewal” while Pantene (P&G) threw us a life-line with its “AgeDefy Advanced Thickening Treatment”. L’Oreal Paris arrived at the scene with a 12-SKU “Advanced Haircare” product line which includes seven new treatment products in addition to shampoos and conditioners.
The upside of these new product developments can be seen in the raw numbers: there are 80 million Boomers in the US, and a little more than half are women. Add to that the fact that only 35% of US women use topical hair treatment products (compared with 70% in Japan and 77% in Brazil), and it’s obvious why major CPG marketers are moving aggressively into this space.
For these companies, success with “new products for old hair” will not be driven by product chemistry or performance claims. Instead, the brands that will win will be the ones that normalize this unfortunate development with positive messaging. The problem with problem-solution advertising is the problem. While it may be true, don’t tell me that I have an old hair problem – instead, dwell on the solution part and let me know that aging is normal and that your version of help can help make a difference.
For me – and millions of other Boomer women like me – the prospect of a lifetime of bad hair days is something we’ll pay a lot to avoid, and the brand that shows us that it knows us will make a lot of gold on gray hair.
Heidi A. Turner is a Boomer Marketing expert and new contributor to the BoomAgers blog.