Don’t shoot the messenger: here’s how beauty brands can get through to boomers

Don’t shoot the messenger: here’s how beauty brands can get through to boomers

Recent research from YouGov reveals that, when it comes to beauty, boomer women think in different terms than their millennial daughters. According to the pollster, 67 percent of women aged 50 and above use make-up to ‘highlight’ their facial features, while for millennials (or at least 59 percent of them), make-up’s primary purpose is to gloss over imperfections.

Mere semantics it may be, but for the marketers out there, it’s an important distinction. If advertising is to reach either boomers or millennials, or indeed both, it needs to speak a language that chimes with them. And since many boomers feel ignored by advertisers – 25 percent of internet users in the boomer age-group surveyed by Yahoo, Audience Theory and Ipsos believe that marketers have forgotten them – it looks like the message isn’t getting through.

Although guess what? The same survey revealed that an identical percentage of millennials and gen Xers feel alike. We recently explored how marketing by numbers could be a mistake in a piece on perennials – so perhaps finding a message that everyone can identify with is the answer?

Impossible, you say? Perhaps, but it may be important. “Finding the right messaging – one that takes into account female millennials and baby boomers – is a challenge that beauty brands must address,” says YouGov Data Journalist Hoang Nguyen.

And is it really that difficult to create a cross-generational campaign? YouGov’s research suggests that these two age groups have more in common than you might think. Many of the same brands appeal to the two demographics– so, for example, a recent (July 31, 2017) YouGov poll found that, when considering their next skin care purchase, both the 18 to 24 age group and the 50- to 64-year-olds ranked Dove, Maybelline, CoverGirl and Bath & Body Works in their top 5.

According to Pew Research, there’s less conflict between these two generations than there was between boomers and their parents with 85 percent of young adults naming mom or dad as one of their best friends. What’s more, a third of millennials say that they influence what products their olds buy, where they shop, eat and what they do with their leisure time.

No wonder millennials and boomers are the two largest groups of TV watchers through broadcast commercials – they’re probably watching it together. Pew suggests that six out of 10 young millennials eat with their family four or more nights a week, while one-in-eight older millennials have boomeranged back to the ancestral home.

There are brands, of course, that are failing to transcend the age gap – YouGov data also revealed that millennials are far more likely to shop at Lush, Sephora or MAC than their boomer counterparts, while the senior generation would gravitate towards Olay and Revlon counters. As YouGov believes, the difference can easily be explained away by shopping preference, with millennials fuelling the rise of the standalone, while boomers remain more loyal to traditional department store and pharmacy channels. Although, if the above is true – those millennial influencers will soon be dragging their ‘rents along with them to the latest beauty pop-up.

To deliver on the promise we made in the title, it looks like the best way to reach a boomer woman is to talk to her daughter. We wondered why beauty appeared so very obsessed with millennials and now we know: “This striking lack of conflict between generations means that millennials can be vital carriers of a business’ commercial message to not only their friends but also their parents. At the rate they’re spreading the word, it won’t be long until almost everyone passes for a millennial, as far as attitude and buying patterns go,” says Micah Soloman, writing for Forbes.