Power of the Purse

I was recently asked to speak for a group of salespeople, focusing on their women’s line. To prepare for this speech, I did hours of research and observation. This particular research led me to some very interesting awareness that I think is important for all retailers to be aware of: America is getting older.
I’m still denying this fact by coloring my hair and covering up my wrinkles with makeup. But yes, even I (as a retail sales associate pointed out) am in the older” category by being 43. Bummer.
This led me to a few facts about this aging population. Number one: more women than men are aging gracefully. This 50+ American woman represents the healthiest, wealthiest and most active generation of women in our history. And not only are women getting older—these women have money.
You see, once these women have paid the last of the college bills and their children have launched their own lives, the discretionary spending power of 50+ women soars. They spend 2.5 times what the average person spends.
Here are a few more stats for you: http://she-conomy.com/report/marketing-to-women-quick-facts
1.  Over the next decade, women will control two thirds of consumer wealth in the United States and be the beneficiaries of the largest transference of wealth in our country’s history. The estimates range from $12 to $40 trillion. And this Boomer woman is a consumer that wants LUXURY brands.
2.  Women age 50 and older control a net worth of $19 trillion and own more than three quarters of the nation’s financial wealth.
3.  More than 1.3 million female professionals and executives earn in excess of $100,000 annually, and 43% of Americans with more than $500,000 in assets are female.
4.  These women represent a portion of the buying public no retailer can afford to ignore. With successful careers, investments made during the boom” years and inheritances from parents or husbands, they are more financially empowered than any previous generation of women.
All of these facts are astounding. What is more incredible is that even though women are clearly financially empowered, something happens after women turn 50: these women become invisible.
Kristen Scott Thomas, who has spoken about her experience of vanishing” as a middle–aged woman, says, When you are walking down the street, you get bumped into. People slam doors in your face—they just don’t notice you.”
Another quote from a middle–aged woman:For the aging woman, one day you are in the flirty–mode with a sales clerk, and the next he is gazing straight past you at the 20–something behind you.”
These quotes go on and on. For the purpose of my research, I wanted to find out if this was true in the industries we work in (outdoor, running and bike).
I was at our local fishing store in Asheville to check out the underwear display of the client with which I was speaking. While I was diving into the display, two groups of 50+ women came in.  One group had 3 women and the other had 4 women. All of these women were shopping, not just looking,” and no one helped them. The female sales associate came right up to me and asked how she could help me, as if I had any money.
In another example, I was at a larger retailer in the Southeast who has 13 stores. I was actually in there to buy my annual bathing suit. The sales associate engaged with me as literally six different groups of older women” shopped around us, even at the same fixture we were standing at, and they were not recognized. I guess this feeling of being invisible is true in our own industries.

In the interest of seeking out ways to attract new people into our stores, let’s not over look the people who are already in our stores with money in their hands. The independent retail industry has a great opportunity to recognize this demographic and to begin to build a strategy around this Boomer woman.

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