Unlocking the Power of Midlife Women: why marketing to the 45-60 age group needs an update.

A call for genuine connection

Forbes calls them ‘super consumers’. They make or influence 90% of household budgetary decisions in the U.K. and yet our own research into this group has found that 69% of them feel that they are invisible to advertisers. We are, of course, talking about midlife women consumers and the time is well overdue for us to start to listen, understand and cater better to this very valuable demographic.

Elevating midlife women

The way in which older women are represented in the media is undergoing a step change. Influential women in film and television have increasingly been demanding better representation and the first green shoots of change are indeed beginning to be seen in popular culture. At the 2023 Oscars, no fewer than four women over the age of 40 were nominated in the Best Actress category, and all nominees were over the age of 35. Equally, women over the age of 45 have been taking central roles in smash hit TV dramas such as Happy Valley, Mare of Easttown and The Morning Show. Being able to spearhead commercial success in popular culture is no longer reserved for the twenty-something ingenue.


Yet marketing and advertising have been slow to respond. Brands who are known to specifically target this demographic continue to use the sylph-like twenty-something models to sell their products, and women are increasingly voicing their discontent. Claire Hall, a.k.a. Clubforty.claire, a U.K. based Instagram influencer with over 170,000 followers recently posted “We are discerning, loyal customers and we want to buy from brands who truly SEE us.”. Research conducted by Getty Images found that “85% of women said that when it comes to representing them, advertisers need to catch up”  and that nearly 7/10 women are more likely to buy from brands who feature women in their advertising that they feel they can relate to. 

Closing the gap

As a female-owned and run business with 30 years+ experience of talking to women who sit within this demographic, this issue has been on our radar for a while. Back in 2021, Sue Benson authored a blog titled “How the portrayal of women in advertising affects brand perception and behaviour”. Our approach to advertising centres around how, using the behavioural science approach, the ways in which brands  communicate can  deeply influence and affect consumer behaviour.  Sue referenced research conducted by Ipsos that found that ads that positively portray women are more likely to positively contribute to the long-term brand relationship as well as short-term behaviour change”.  


In January this year we pulled together a team, predominantly formed of women in their 50s, to look at the problem more closely.  More importantly, we wanted to continue to develop our  concrete solutions for brands that wish to build meaningful long-term connections with midlife women. 

And then one of our team members saw a post, by activist Jane Evans, that said “For all you in advertising jumping on the ageism bandwagon and starting to talk about it. Why don’t you try listening instead?”  and our Midlife Women  initiative was born.

TBA & the Midlife Women project

The TBA Midlife Women project is predicated on the belief that women no longer want to be told who they are, or what they aspire to – they want to be seen and they want to be heard. They want to tell us who they are and what they need and they want to interact with brands who can provide them with solutions based on that understanding. 


To this end, we have embarked on our most ambitious consumer-centred insight project to date. We have already conducted a deep-dive review of how current marketing talks to this demographic: what works and what doesn’t. We have talked to marketing professionals with expertise in this area, to learn from their experience and perspective. And we have listened to these women. 


So far, we have run a nationwide survey into the attitudes, experiences and beliefs of this group – what are the challenges they are facing? What are their hopes for the second half of their lives? We have run qualitative research groups in the North East to spend time in conversation with these women.  And this is just the beginning. 


We are living through a time of unprecedented, rapid social change. These women are not having the midlife experience of their mothers, and the experiences of the generations to follow are just as likely to be different again. It is becoming clear that in order to keep up with the changing needs and behaviours of this group we need to keep listening. Over the next few months we will launch our ‘listening post’ – a longitudinal study of 45-60 year old women that hopes to keep pace with how this group is experiencing life. 


This group of women have enough life experience to know what they want – and what they don’t want. They are out-earning and out-spending their under-40 peers for the first time and they enjoy having the freedom to spend their valuable resources and their valuable time with brands who are able to offer them solutions, so that they can live their lives to the fullest. 


The Behaviours Agency are building a resource centre to help brands to navigate the increasingly complex landscape of marketing to midlife women. Combining valuable insights built on our research, and our own proprietary behavioural creativity tools, we feel that we can offer an invaluable partnership for helping you to offer these women what they really want. 


If you are interested in finding out more about how we can help, or if you would like to keep up to date with our latest research, visit here

A note from Sue Benson

I’m so excited about this project, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for some years now. I’ve become increasingly frustrated with the way women are represented we’re either grey haired goddesses living life to the full or in a miserable menopause drudge or worse represented by some gorgeous 30 year old who hasn’t yet experienced the joys of midlife weight gain. 

What we’ve discovered is that all these women exist of course they do, but there so much more in between, but it takes skill, sensitivity and bravery to really reach them. And that’s exactly what we’ll help marketers do.

By Sue Benson

Managing Director