The Healthy, Powerful Midlife Woman

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Women in their 40s and 50s are a “critical audience” for advertisers, according to a recent study conducted by Yahoo and Digitas Health. The reason? “Tremendous” buying power. “Women are driving $12 trillion in global spending today and will contribute an incremental $5 trillion in earnings over the next five years,” says Lauren Weinberg, senior director of strategic insights and research at Yahoo.

The study interviewed more than 100 women from 40 to 59 years old, followed by surveys of more than 2,500 women from 20 to 59. The report states five “major insights” for marketers when targeting this key group.

1. Midlife is mostly “wow,” followed by a little good-natured “ugh.” About half of women between 40 and 59 strongly agree that they have a positive outlook on life, compared with only 36 percent for women 20 to 39 years old. Fifty percent of women in midlife reported they are confident, strongly agreeing that they can do just about anything they set their minds to. Sixty percent of women 40 to 59 strongly agree that they are less concerned with how others regard them, compared with 43 percent of younger women who feel that way.

2. Information is experienced as much emotionally as it is functionally. Asked what is important to them in health information sources, 69 percent strongly valued “expertise,” and 67 percent strongly valued “making information easy to digest and understand.” Women also indicated that they valued emotional factors in their information sources, with 66 percent attracted to companies that had their best interests in mind and did not have any hidden agendas.

3. The Web offers multiple touch points to help women “realize to decide.” The report states that 34.5 million women aged 40 to 59 go online each month, and 56 percent of the women interviewed said they turn to online sources frequently as “sources of health information and/or support.” In addition, 43 percent of midlife women who turn to online communities do so to give or gather general health information.

4. “Yes, doctor” has become “Yes, doctor, but...” Almost half of midlife women strongly agree that patients have more of a role in diagnosis and treatment these days because of information available online. In addition, what women said they want from doctors, but report they often do not get, is “a partner who makes decisions with her, based on who she is and her context.” Sixty percent reported that their conversations with doctors are productive, but only 34 percent say they are comfortable with the results.

5. Researchers have identified five health styles that intersect a woman’s outlook and her situation. Stereotypes of women based on their life stage are now “obsolete,” the study shows. These approaches provide a “fresh perspective” for brands to have more productive conversations with women:

Optimistic and proactive: She keeps a positive attitude and does everything she can to stay healthy.

Savvy explorer: She loves researching online, leaving no stone unturned, and bases decisions on a solid, well-rounded understanding.
Connected consensus-seeking: Her decision-making style is driven by her desire to connect with people and talk through her options, turning to friends, family, and especially others like her who speak from personal experience.

Detached and disinterested: She practically ignores the entire subject of health, including her own. Relatively healthy and skeptical, she is the least engaged in health-related issues.

Constrained and overwhelmed: This is the group most frustrated and overwhelmed by coping with chronic conditions and illness and has driven perceptions of a broad negative outlook at this life stage.

Associate/Web Editor Brittany Farb can be reached at bfarb@destinationcrm.com.

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