Women 50+ in age constitute a market force to be reckoned with.

I refer to them as "PrimeTime Women" for a couple of reasons. They are in their prime—this is the healthiest, wealthiest, most influential generation of women in history, and terms like mature (overripe), middle-aged (frumpy) and senior (out to pasture) fail to convey their vitality and potential.

These women should be the primary marketing target for a host of industries, including travel, autos, real estate, finance services, technology and home improvement. Yet they are all too often ignored by marketers, who retain an outdated obsession with youth. This group has money and the time to spend it, and those who recognize its potential will prosper.

Why are they so powerful?

Today, women over 50 account for 19% of the adult population and 15% of the total population. These figures should be enough to give marketers pause. But they're only part of the story. Women will make up an ever-larger share of the surviving (and thriving) Baby Boom generation. It's a demographic truism that as any population ages it becomes more female. The reason is simple: On average, women live longer; their life expectancy is seven years more than that of men. So as Boomers grow older, women—PrimeTime Women—will be more prominent in this historically influential generation.

PrimeTime Women will represent the center of the marketing universe for the next two decades. Consider this: In 2000, 37% of the adult US population was 50 or older; by 2010 that figure will rise to 43%. (New York Times, 25 July 2001) In 2001, the 50+ group held $29.1 trillion in net worth, or 69% of the US total—up from 56% in 1983. (AARP State of 50+ in America Report, 2004.)

Changes in society, culture and the economy are resulting in huge demographic shifts. Marketers who ignore these trends and continue to focus on younger, male targets will see sales and share decrease as a result, since adults 50+ buy $2 trillion worth of goods and services each year (Gary Onks, SoldOnSeniors, Inc. ) and spend 2.5 times as much as younger consumers on a per capita basis (Ken Dychtwald, Age Power).

Fifty—Not What It Used to Be

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image of Marti Barletta

Marti Barletta is the founder and CEO of consulting think-tank The TrendSight Group  (www.trendsight.com) and the author of PrimeTime Women: How to Win the Hearts, Minds, and Business of Boomer Big Spenders (Jan. 2007) and Marketing to Women: How to Understand, Reach and Increase Your Share of the World's Largest Market Segment (Dec. 2002). Reach her at marti.barletta@trendsight.com.

Are you a Premium Plus member of MarketingProfs?  You can replay our 90-minute virtual seminar with Marti, Reach the Big Spenders:  How to Market wo Women from 50 to 75.