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Editor's Comment: The overlooked buying power of Generation X

Kirsty McGregor

In a world where a drumming gorilla is an effective tool for advertising chocolate, it is not unusual to see a conceptual ad campaign that does not feature the product. 

However, what makes lingerie brand Fantasie’s recently released spring 20 campaign interesting is the focus on creating an intellectual and emotional connection with the still largely ignored Generation X shopper. The “It’s Who I Am” campaign features women in their forties, fully clothed, sharing their stories.

This age group has long been invisible to marketers. Even brands that specifically target Gen X still tend to use younger models.

Over the years we have seen fashion houses feature women upwards of 70, such as Joan Didion, Joni Mitchell and Iris Apfel, in their campaigns. By going to the other extreme from the teenagers you normally see in fashion ads, they seemed subversive and cool.

Middle age, however, is still seen as fundamentally uncool.

This week, we look at how today’s fashion retailers and brands are catering to the middle-aged. Disappointingly – and despite the fact that London Fashion Week designers such as Ashish and Paula Knorr are waking up to the power of using models of varying ages on the catwalk – this market is still largely under-served by the high street.

Yet shoppers of this age present a huge opportunity. At a panel discussion to launch the Fantasie campaign last week, some of the women featured – a mix of influencers, stylists and entrepreneurs, all in their forties – pointed out that they are at a stage in their lives where they know themselves: they have confidence in their bodies and their tastes, and they are not afraidto take risks.

They also, importantly, have spending power. But rather than overtly selling to them, Fantasie has wisely chosen an approach that will form a longer-lasting emotional connection to the brand.

In this tough trading environment, it is vital to find new and exciting ways to engage your customers, from innovative ad campaigns to fresh designs. We bring you the latest in our series of buying guides to the autumn 20 season, which focuses on footwear. As well as our pick of the new collections, we look at the trends shaping the industry.

Footwear independents are reporting a more cautious approach to buying this season, so the clear message is that brands must fight harder for spend with fresh, on-trend product, and a wider array of sustainable and vegan-friendly options.

As the market becomes ever-more saturated, these are the strategies that will help brands stand out from the crowd.

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