Beautiful Thinking.

Champion the Change Makers: The brands making it their business to cater to the powerful Gen X consumer

It is often joked that Gen X are the middle child, the lost generation, trapped in an attention blackhole between Millennials and the Baby Boomers who dominate the cultural conversation.

And yet, Gen X is shaping up to be one of the most powerful groups.

For beauty brands, they offer an elevated level of opportunities, spanning spending power, a need for specialised products as they enter pivotal new periods of their lives, and their role as key drivers of one of beauty’s biggest current buzzwords – longevity. Ageing is no longer a concept to be ashamed of, denied or steered away from. Ageing is beautiful, it is to be embraced, it is to be invested in. 

There is renewed excitement in their purchasing habits, and this is also strengthened by more open conversations and acceptance of what is the norm for so many Gen X women, experiencing perimenopause and menopause. 

Many women feel lost when it comes to how they navigate perimenopause. Whilst this important life stage is shared by 51% of the population – and with a reported 1.1 billion postmenopausal women worldwide by 2025 – there often remains a great deal of shame and emotional (let alone, physical) discomfort for so many experiencing menopause.

A staggering 61% of women in the UK won’t discuss menopause for fear of being judged.

However, there is an exciting opportunity for brands to be at the forefront, playing a leading role in further shifting the conversation into the mainstream. And this is being embraced at an accelerated rate; the menopause market is estimated to be worth $16 billion by 2025. 

There is also an exciting opportunity to shine a light for women who fear this stage in life, and inject a strengthening of spirit into this transition. 

In recent years there has been an invaluable shift in how young girls and women view their periods, as well as important conversations around the difficulty faced in conceiving and pregnancy loss. But how can brands and businesses work towards a stronger offering – and a clearer voice – for women at this stage in their lives. 

Brands which are able to achieve an authentic voice, backed by credible insight into how women can be more than adequately supported, can become not only a source of comfort but a source of knowledge.

When there is the chance to showcase how you can live your life comfortably - even beautifully - simply by understanding how you can be better supported through health, wellness and beauty products, how do women access this knowledge?

One such brand moving to open the conversation and welcome women to embrace this significant stage of their life, comes from an actress who at the hands of Hollywood, has found first-hand the stigma that can come with ageing. 

Naomi Watts, star of films including King Kong and The Ring, began experiencing menopause early and struggled significantly with the symptoms that accompany it. After realising that she was one of countless women who experience the taboo that comes with speaking about menopause, she wanted to play a role in normalising these conversations. She therefore launched Stripes Beauty in 2022, with a range of products rooted in science, and which target specific issues that arise as women enter into perimenopause.

From pH balancing supplements and moisturisers, to vaginal hydration gel and play oil, these dedicated products were made available as part of a platform which not only provided solutions, it also provided an opportunity for women sharing in this experience to connect with one another. 

After experiencing a struggle within the business and its financial backing, Watts bought back the brand at auction for $500,000, and recently announced a progressive new partnership with L Catterton, a private equity firm co-founded by LVMH. With the backing of this luxury megahouse, Watts has a vision for global growth, and continuation of her mission to bring accessible wellness to Gen X women. 

Stripes is not alone. There are a growing number of dedicated products hitting the market which are designed and marketed specifically for women at this key stage of life, with many start-ups performing well. 

From bladder health brand, Jude, to Womaness – a range of products to help women navigate ageing well during their 40s, 50s and beyond – these specialised brands have created products specifically designed for and directly addressing problems which women traditionally face. In March of this year, Charles Worthington announced the launch of its first-ever haircare range focused on the menopause.

Major retailers are also emulating the start-ups. The Gen M movement invites brands to feature their logo on products which help to alleviate symptoms of menopause. Partnered with Boots, Co-Op and Holland & Barrett, the collective has cut through with some of the UK’s biggest supermarkets, including Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Morrisons.. 

What Gen M has demonstrated is that it can be as simple as directing women towards the products which they likely already use, but with the understanding that making this a little more regular in their routine can alleviate certain symptoms of menopause. It doesn’t always need to be a brand new product created specifically for this period of life – it is an existing product which helps women to overcome their symptoms, and here is where you can find it in the aisles you visit every day. 

Whilst we struggle to move beyond the classification of women into their stereotypical age groups, women don’t want to be defined – each and every one woman is an individual with their own voice and their own experience.

They don’t want to be apologetic – so why does this sense of shame linger? Brands which achieve a sense of community, speak with authenticity and recognise that every woman’s experience will be individual, will achieve success. 

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