As a beauty therapist, how should you market yourself to older customers?

Just look at any red-carpet event or TV cosmetics ad and you’ll see how much impact ‘older’ women – especially celebrities – are having on beauty, hair and fashion trends. From Helen Mirren (72) to Cate Blanchett (49), from Kate Winslet (42) to Julianne Moore (57), from Nicole Kidman (50) to Meryl Streep (68) it’s impossible not to realise that this is the age of the powerful and beauty-conscious mature woman. And, in turn, those celebrities are inspiring a lot of people of similar age to become more beauty conscious too. That’s why, for beauty therapists, salons and spas, successfully targeting older clients is more important than ever.

And the celebrity factor isn’t the only reason you should be trying to attract a more mature customer base.

Older women (especially those who are 45 and above) represent almost 50% of the UK’s female population, and that percentage is constantly growing. On average they have more disposable income and leisure time than any other demographic, especially women aged between 50-69 who buy more luxury goods and designer fashion than anybody else. And don’t forget that many women (and men) in this age range are single, so looking and feeling good to attract a new partner is often among their top priorities.

They’re also an incredibly rewarding audience to work with because once you’ve gained their trust and developed a strong professional relationship they’re more likely to become a regular customer than any other age group.

But how should you market yourself to encourage older clients through your door?

To start with, don’t treat the 45’s and over as a boring ‘one size fits all’ kind of group. In fact, research has shown that there’s no faster way to turn older clients off than by treating them as ‘silver surfers’ or the ‘blue rinse brigade’. Think about the celebrities we just mentioned and you’ll see those stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth.
Older clients are as individual as your younger clients, often more so. They hate to be described as ‘senior’ and the beauty brands that resonate with them are the brands that win their custom. You’re a brand, which means you can win their custom too if you market yourself or your salon with some well-thought-out savvy.

So, in the same way as you’d target any other client you want to attract, think about who your perfect older customer is. What are her beauty concerns and what beauty treatments will she respond to most? How often will she visit your salon – when and why? Once you’ve got the answers to those questions, you can market your services to win her attention. It isn’t all about anti-ageing treatments and concealing wrinkles, or massages simply to remove those ‘getting older’ aches and pains – you’ll often find that the ‘wants’ of your mature clients aren’t so different from the ‘wants’ of your younger customers.

That’s why, when you’re dealing with this age group, the consultation is especially vital. Take time to understand why they’re here, what their concerns are, and remember the importance of building trust and rapport. Don’t be afraid to up-sell because this is an audience who enjoys discovery and experimentation and knows that you get what you pay for so they’re more likely to embrace an additional / complimentary treatment than you might expect. How about offering a regular spa or salon morning/afternoon solely for your older clients, and make some extra fuss of them? You’ll be surprised by how quickly they’ll tell their friends – it’s not only red-carpet celebrities who can influence opinion!
For that reason, introduce-a-friend promotions can work really well with your more mature clients.

Also, once they’ve become a client take extra care to keep them that way. Older people often appreciate a personalised approach, so after they’ve left make a few notes about your conversation so you can return to it the next time they’re here. You could even create a mailing list that targets your mature customers with special offers, beauty advice and tailored product launches but be careful how much focus you put on emails and social media with this age group. Many of them will embrace it, but some won’t. As with everything else, it’s just a matter of treating them as an individual and gauging what your best approach should be.

Remember, beauty is timeless and age is just a number! Keep that in mind and you’ll soon have many more of this lucrative clientele enjoying the fabulousness of your salon!

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