Bonmarche, a UK based fashion retailer that focuses specifically on the more mature woman, is finding themselves in a position where they are the most innovative of stores. They are one of the only stores that focuses specifically on the mature woman, who is not just the largest demographic in the country in terms of shoppers, but also the most affluent. To stay relevant, they have also fully developed their website, thereby catering to the needs of both the woman who likes to go to stores, and to the woman who prefers to avoid that.
It seems that fashion marketers are finally starting to acknowledge that women over 40 also have a fantastic sense of style. No longer are advertisements solely of 18 year old stick thin little girls, but brands like Illamasqua, American Apparel, Lanvin, and Alexis Bittar, are embracing the more mature woman. This is something that Bonmarche, a UK-based fashion retailer, has already been doing for many years, focusing specifically on the mature but stylish woman.
According to Bonmarche, it should come as no surprise that this market is growing. Women like Tyra Banks, Twiggy, Helen Mirren, Jennifer Anniston, and so on, were fashion icons in their younger days, but they have not disappeared from our screens just because they became older than 40. Rather, they empowered other women to continue to love their own skin and body, being proud of who they are.
There is an important reality that fashion retailers need to become aware of, which is that many women are now over 50. In fact, in 2016, one third of all women was over 55. And the other important reality is that it is these women who have not just the greatest spending power, but who are also more likely to invest in clothing from more high quality brands. In fact, in 2016, the womenswear market for women aged over 55 was £23.2 billion worldwide.
Another key development that Bonmarche has long been aware of, is that online shopping is becoming more common among the older generation. While 69% of shoppers still go to stores for their clothes, 36% of women over the age of 55 shop exclusively online. This compares to just 16% of those aged between 24 and 34.
The e-commerce manager for Bonmarche says: “The online female shopper aged 55 and over is the idea client. These women are elegant and they want to look good. They are inspired by iconic women such as Joanna Lumley and Meryl Streep, and they are not afraid to pay for quality. Their problem is, however, that they have very few choices available to them, because so many fashion retailers continue to focus solely on the younger shopper.”
Bonmarche has spent a considerable amount of time speaking to their customers about their likes and dislikes. What they found was that:
- 50% of women aged 55 and older liked entering the store to look at the clothes and actually try them on before deciding to make a purchase.
- 45% of women aged between 45 and 54 preferred to go to the store in order to look at their fashion options.
- 38% of women aged between 18 and 24 prefer researching in store.
So what does this all mean? According to the e-commerce manager: “In order to be competitive in today’s market, you also have to be relevant. You have to have a store in which a woman over 50 feels as comfortable as a girl of 21. At the same time, you need to have a functional website with an excellent customer service policy, accessible to people of all ages.”