It's no secret that the vast majority of brands, be it lifestyle, fitness, or anything that requires models, show preferential treatment towards certain types of spokespeople. Models are skinny and young. Models are impossibly good-looking. Some of them look like they don't even have skin pores. If you do see a midlife model, odds are he or she is being depicted as "old," or grandparent-looking. While it's obvious these younger models put in a tremendous amount of effort or money to achieve this look or are just genetically blessed, this is an unrealistic goal for 99% of the population. What's more, it’s also a bad business decision.
So. Why not use more realistic midlife models?
Know your market
Gen Xers and Baby Boomers have the highest income and spend more money shopping than any other age group. We are the homeowners, have had long and profitable careers. We have the disposable income at this point in our lives. We work hard and deserve to have what we want. Women over 50 represent $15 trillion in spending power. We control more than 64% of global spending.
Knowing this, coupled with the fact that women tend to do more of the shopping than men (80% of household buying decisions), you'd think brands would present a more relatable picture in their marketing campaigns, right?
If fitness brands were to show consumers more realistic-looking, credible midlife women modeling their apparel, they would be more likely to fundamentally connect with the biggest shopping demographic there is. Take me, for example. If you put me in an ad as a fit, but not perfect, woman in her 60s, who clearly works out, that would be inspirational to someone who's just beginning their fitness journey. Someone who could see themselves wearing those clothes and looking like me one day (or better). That kind of approach connects with and inspires people.
A realistic picture shows the consumer what he or she might look like in an outfit. When brands run the unrealistic ad with the photoshopped 20-something-year-old on the cover instead, they are doing two things.
They are potentially alienating a shopper who knows he or she will never look like that.
They are trying to build brand loyalty with the younger generation.
Both are bad ideas.
Adjust to the Times
Let's talk a little bit about the second item on that list; brands use young, impossibly beautiful models in order to create brand loyalty, thus setting themselves up for when the younger generation has more disposable income. While this strategy might have worked in the past, it is becoming more and more ineffective in today's day and age.
Consumers today are constantly flooded with enticing and tailored ads. They see them on TV, the internet, social media, billboards, magazines, everywhere. As the amount of shopping options increases, the lifespan of certain styles and brands decreases. In short, brand loyalty is dying.
It's foolish to devote so much attention to cultivating brand loyalty by targeting a younger generation because they will not hesitate to shop elsewhere. There are millions of options at their disposal that they are exposed to every day. Unless you have far and away the superior product in your market, which is improbable with how saturated everything is today, it is highly unlikely that ads using 20-year-olds will produce any more repeat customers than ads using realistic midlife models, like me.
"The times, they are a-changing," as Bob Dylan said.
Adjust to the Times
Thankfully, this concept of presenting an unattainable goal in ads is becoming a thing of the past. With the movement towards body positivity and inclusivity gaining steam, specifically in fashion and beauty brands, we're seeing more and more unique models with all different body types, as opposed to the classic stick-figure image. It's important to love your body; more inclusivity is the right thing to do.
It turns out, it's also the smart thing to do, specifically as it relates to realistic midlife models. As a pro-aging fitness enthusiast and lifestyle influencer, my goal has always been to eliminate the stigma of aging, thus allowing women in the midlife to dress, work out, and act the way they want to act. Be who they want to be, regardless of what it says on their birth certificates. While the fashion/beauty industry has begun to embrace that concept, the fitness industry is lagging, hence why I've targeted this space.
Fitness brands acknowledging the moral and financial benefits of more inclusivity would be an enormous step in the right direction.
I’m right here. Ready to move that mountain. Because I want to for myself. Because I have to for everyone else.