Don’t ignore ‘Queenagers’ - women over 40 now outspend millennials

Of the 967,047 registered female residents in Northern Ireland last year, over half (490,903) were aged 40 or over
Of the 967,047 registered female residents in Northern Ireland last year, over half (490,903) were aged 40 or over

ONE of the richest demographics in the population is being largely ignored by marketers.

According to research conducted by in association with Accenture, middle-aged women have tremendous spending power, but are largely overlooked by brands.

Speaking to the Chartered Institute of Marketing in November, Eleanor Mills, founder of the midlife lifestyle platform, explained that in 2019, women over 40 started to earn more money than women under 40 - for the first time ever.

She dubbed this cohort ‘Queenagers’ and told us how this untapped group of educated, affluent and open-minded women out-spends millennials by 250 per cent. Queenagers are also behind 90 per cent of all household spending decisions, earning them the apt title of ‘super consumers’ from Forbes.

But the research also shows that this high-powered group feels ‘invisible’, with the only adverts directed at them for anti-wrinkle creams or incontinence pads.

The over-50s control 47 per cent of the UK’s wealth, yet appear in less than 12 per cent of advertising. The conversation around middle-aged women is dominated by menopause but it has been shown that it’s these women who have the most say over big-ticket purchases including holidays, cars and leisure activities.

Women over 40 have large amounts of disposable income and are actively looking to spend their hard-earned cash. A third of the ‘Queenager’ cohort doesn’t have children, so they’ve got time and money - the two best attributes of any customer.

The research presented outlined that there is a huge opportunity for brands to speak to this switched-on consumer base. Middle-aged women are an easily accessible group who shop online, browse social media and have a keen interest in news and current events. Inclusion could be as simple as using more representative images and adjusting the audience parameters on Facebook ads.

Of the 967,047 registered female residents in Northern Ireland in 2021, over 50 per cent (490,903) were aged 40 or over. Irish marketers and business owners need to get to know this cohort to ensure that their campaigns are targeting all interested parties.

Recent ONS statistics also show that the UK population is living longer and the birth rate is dropping. In 1999, around one in six people were 65 years and over (15.8 per cent), this increased to one in every five people in 2019 (18.5 per cent) and is projected to reach around one in every four people (23.9 per cent) by 2039.

While advertising campaigns might be accused of side-lining more mature audiences, CIM has also identified a similar trend emerging from within the marketing industry.

A CIM round table conducted in late 2021 implies that the marketing industry appears to prize youthfulness over experience with anecdotal research suggesting that only 5 per cent of people in creative industries are over 50.

While much of the responsibility for digital marketing is laid at the door of young professionals, the experience of someone with a career spanning 20-plus years should be sought out, not discounted. Ensuring that marketing teams are diverse in terms of backgrounds, opinions and experience levels is crucial for success.

Businesses should challenge their existing target market segments and reassess who their real consumers are in order to thrive.

The research includes the views of 2,000 ABC1 women aged between 40-65 and was conducted in association with Accenture.

Explaining to CIM members why she called her platform Noon, Eleanor Mills said: “In the 100-year life, 50 is only halfway through. There is so much more to come.”

:: Chris Gilroy is Ireland chair of the Chartered Institute of Marketing