Did you know that menopausal women change their spending habits? There is a huge opportunity for canny advertisers, says Helen Brain.

Some 13 million women in the UK are going through the menopause at any one point in time…

But you’d never know it, because generally their experiences are ignored. The menopause occurs when a woman’s oestrogen levels decline, resulting in her periods stopping. It usually starts between the ages of 45 and 55, with the process taking on average four years.

There are multiple symptoms of the menopause – over 30 in fact! The most common include hot flashes, vaginal dryness, and insomnia. However, more serious symptoms go right through to memory lapses, electric shocks, hair loss, anxiety and osteoporosis.

Despite the sheer number of women who are experiencing, or will experience, the menopause, UM London and Karen Fraser found that almost half of menopausal and post-menopausal women believe that they are not represented fairly or authentically by advertising, and 44% feel patronised.

In the same way that the #PeriodTaboo has been broken in the past couple of years, we should expect to see the menopause talked about more openly as well. Menopausal women must be better supported by wider society and brands have a role to play in breaking down the taboos.

There’s a white space for brands

Evidently, both brands and marketers must work harder to better understand the lived experience of this life stage to better serve middle-aged women. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it can – if done in a relevant and authentic way – help drive brand growth.

For instance, the same UM London and Karen Fraser study found that: 24% of women going through the menopause spend more money on exercise and fitness; 16% spend more on beauty and make-up; 29% spend more on skincare; 29% spend more on health supplements; and 22% spend more on travel.

There is a great white space here for brands to step in. It’s an opportunity that brands would be foolish to miss out on, especially for the sake of being naïve about the menopause. Yet when we look at the number of femtech brands operating in the pre-menopause space it’s clear just how under-served menopausal women are.

Don’t wait for change – educate your audience

There are some brands already bringing the menopause into the light that we can look to for inspiration. Maltesers, for instance, has a strong track record in taboo-breaking, and menopause was included in a 2018 advert.

Elsewhere, Holland & Barrett won the TFL 2019 diversity contest with their Me.No.Pause campaign idea, and also trained their staff on how to advise on its physical and emotional impact. Meanwhile, Tena produced a powerful advert that aims to challenge perceptions of menopause in the Middle East, where the Arabic term for menopause translates as “the age of despair”.

Ultimately, brands can help women and their support circles understand what’s happening, how to handle it, and to know they are not alone. What’s more, they can demonstrate they understand the menopausal customer and gain a competitive advantage.

As with other lifestage shifts, the menopause sees women change their spending habits, offering a chance for brands to educate existing customers and connect with entirely new audiences.

Move quickly to drive growth

So what can brands do to better serve the menopausal woman, and find opportunity for brand growth?

First and foremost, marketers must see menopausal women as they really are. Menopausal women are heading into the next chapter of their lives and whilst there are challenges in the experience, they have not suddenly become a struggling and homogenous group. Brands must empathise with menopausal women, respect their vitality, and represent the ways in which different women experience the menopause.   

Brands need to develop products and services that fulfil menopause-specific needs. They need to review existing product and service ranges against the varying physical, mental and emotional needs of menopausal women to drive growth opportunities.  

Finally, brands must become a trusted source of information and filtering. Information about the menopause can be challenging to navigate, largely due to the wide-ranging nature of symptoms. But brands that can make life easier for women going through this life phase, and ensure they only produce or are associated with genuinely helpful content, can win their loyalty and custom.

Clearly, there is huge opportunity in responsibly meeting the needs of the menopausal customers. With more and more brands creating products and services and talking about the menopause in advertising, this area is likely to become competitive. Brands should move quickly to win hearts, minds and share of market.