Detroit: A love letter.

A 50-something-year-old friend of mine was asked:  “Are you a grandma?” as a 20-something styled her hair at a salon last week. I’m sure she replied with a very polite, “No…” but I also bet she was thinking, “Wtf! Seriously? My kid is in HIGH SCHOOL! Screw that.” And this particular not-grandma friend is a successful, fit and hip chick. And before I write anything further, yes, there are 50-year-old grandmas, and that’s great. But this is about making presumptions which shine a light on stereotypes which many or most women my age feel are completely outdated.

Unless you are a woman that’s somewhere between 45 and north of 60, do you really get these women as they are right now? My gut says no. Certainly, the stylist didn’t. And probably the 30-something advertising creatives and marketers don’t either.

In marketing speak, this female demographic of women 45 – 70, has appeared on countless creative briefs throughout my career. And I have to admit, in my younger years, I was just as clueless as the stylist mentioned above. I would immediately think, “Oh, the old lady target. Snore.” But today, that demographic acts, feels and spends vastly different than ever before. I know this because I’m in that target now as are almost all of my friends and acquaintances. Can I just say that we’re pretty bad ass? We are business owners, lawyers, doctors, PTO presidents, consultants, work from home mavens, household CEOs, devoted mothers and some are even the primary breadwinners. We also have impressive work out schedules, busy lives and most of us color our hair. We just aren’t the gray-haired stereotype of yesteryear. (In fact, according to Clairol, 75% of all women color their hair. )

Today’s Kick-Ass Women.

Today’s, ahem, mature (I prefer “wise” or “kick-ass”) woman is grossly misunderstood not only by younger people but by marketers themselves. I can recall reading a creative brief a decade ago the demographic stated as Women 50-70 years old “Boomers,” and everyone on the team, myself included, wanted to cast a youthful 50-something female with gray hair. I mean, she had to have gray hair. Fast forward to today, and I have one friend with naturally gray hair that’s in that age group. Granted, she’s that rare gorgeous gray that we were trying to cast back then and again, she is a one of a kind. Because, hell, most of us color our hair! And guess what? We don’t look like “old women” either. We’re hitting the gym, reading clothing blogs and dabbling in Botox. (Okay, some of my friends admit to this.)

Make sure who know who you’re talking to.

So, marketers, think twice before casting a woman with gray hair because a creative brief states that your female target is a “Gen X” or even a “Boomer.” She is vibrant, fit, feels youthful and is all over social media. Also, don’t ask any woman in her fifties if she is a grandma. She could very well have kids in grade school.

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