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ogilvy on wellness

Bringing an End to 'Anti-Ageing' Marketing

“The skincare category is intrinsically linked to the wellness movement,” says Daria Myers during her keynote, ‘The Beauty of Empathy’, at the Ogilvy On Wellness summit this week. Myers is something of an expert on the subject, having held the position of Global President at Estée Lauder and now acting as their advisor on health, wellness and environmental businesses.

Back in the 1980s, Myers founded Origins alongside William Lauder; a range of skincare products where the positioning was all about natural ingredients. It was the first of its kind. Since then, all-natural ingredients have become massively popular, with consumers developing shrewder attitudes to what kinds of products they use on their skin, due to both environmental and health concerns — a trend which looks set to continue, bolstered by the burgeoning wellness movement.

Now, Myers wants to explore another aspect of the beauty and skincare; ageism. While the industry’s mission statement and marketing both revolve around making women look and feel beautiful, the truth is that all too often that only seems to apply to young women. “Having spent so many years in such a youth-obsessed industry, I’m interested in looking at how we feel about ageing,” says Myers.

You only need to look at an average ad in this space to see the bias. It’s highly uncommon to see a model over the age of 30 in an ad for skincare, and even products designed specifically for older women are marketed using much younger models, with slogans like “join the fight against ageing.” By using our culture’s fixation with youth in its marketing, the industry is ultimately alienating an increasingly powerful demographic.

The over 50s are a fast-growing consumer group. By 2050, the average global lifespan will be 80 years. If beauty is linked to wellness, and wellness is about flourishing and thriving at all stages of life, then it’s long past time that marketers start thinking about these consumers in a different way.

This begins by radically changing the messaging around age.

Allure, one of the United States’ leading beauty magazines, has used the cover story of its September 2017 issue, featuring Dame Helen Mirren, to assert that it will no longer use the words “anti-aging.” And we’re starting to see beauty and skincare brands doing the same; Dove has dropped references to “anti-ageing” from its products, instead launching a series of “Pro Age” products centred around feeling and looking your best at any age.

Quoting Ashton Applewhite’s TED talk, Myers ends her session with a reminder to all advertisers: “Ageism is just prejudice against your future self.”

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