With age comes wisdom—at least, for a certain segment of been-there-done-that women. Employed, moneyed and content, this 55-to-64-year-old knows what she wants and, better yet, has the means to get it.
The Alpha Goddess, who has a median income of $69,000, spends—in part because she loves to lavish gifts on her family. Still, the top three purchases showing up on her credit card statement—luxury cars, travel and, yes, prescription drugs—are for herself, according to Simmons. She also swipes those cards when buying products such as home furnishings, appliances and cosmetics, and she tends to do this more than women 18 to 54.
Women over 55 are also more likely to treat themselves to fragrances, spending $50 to $149 on a single product, according to Total Beauty Media Group. And the higher her income, the more likely she is to be influenced by a perfume with a celebrity endorsement.
Her confidence extends to her relationships. Whether due to divorce, being widowed or never having married, the number of women age 45 to 64 living alone in the last 10 years has more than doubled, according to the U.S. Census, and this single life seems to carry no stigma.
A 2012 survey of American singles by Match.com shows that people over 60 are less likely to compromise on either love or sexual attractiveness in order to have a committed relationship. “We assume it’s the young that are picky, but the young have got to reproduce,” explains Helen Fisher, a biological anthropologist and chief scientific advisor for Match.com. “As you get older, you don’t have to make those compromises. Older women are embedded in their social and business circles. They have too much to leave behind.”
And too much to look forward to. For these women, sex has never been better. The Match.com survey also shows that singles in this segment are more likely than in any other age group to achieve orgasms, reporting the Big O at least 91 percent of the time. (No wonder they’re content.)
They’re also open to new things, including new technologies. There’s a misperception that this segment is technophobic—reinforced every time some young app developer says, “I wanted to make it so easy my mom could use it”—when they’re actually as enthusiastic users of tech toys as younger groups. Smartphone penetration for these women, in fact, is 30 percent and growing faster than any other group, per Nielsen. According to Forrester Research, women 55 to 65 spend about the same on consumer electronics as a typical Gen Y-er and slightly more (53 percent) than a typical Gen Y female.
She also watches more TV than other age groups, per Nielsen, but she’s hardly a captive audience. While the tube is on, she surfs the Internet, shops online, texts or reads books and magazines, according to Harris Interactive.
This segment also likes a good, old-fashioned insert. In a survey by Vertis Communications, these women said newspaper inserts had the most influence on their buying decisions, with 39 percent turning to inserts/circulars and 31 percent to catalogs.
Alan Wurtzel, president of research and media development at NBCUniversal, coined the term “Alpha Boomer” two years ago to emphasize that the 35 million women and men in the leading edge of the boomer generation spend more than $1.8 trillion annually.
“They have always driven the culture and a lot of the economy,” Wurtzel says. “People assumed that as they got older, they retired and stopped spending money. But they are probably the most attractive group in the country.”
Photo by Alfred Maskeroni
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