Mainstreaming menopause

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on October 31, 2019

If you are a marketer there is opportunity in everything — even menopause! But you have to be sensitive about it as the Elastic Generation (women in their fifties and sixties) want a shift in the way they are perceived. No more labelling as dependent grandmas. Why not show their active independent lifestyles? Neither do they want anti-ageing products. Instead, why not talk about products for mature skin?

J. Walter Thomson Intelligence, the specialised practice of JWT, which offers research, innovation and data analytics, in its latest trend report, captures the mainstreaming of menopause by forward-thinking brands. For a year or two, there has been chatter around breaking the taboo of silence around menopause and disrupting ageing.

So, there are now estrogen-free lotions from Pepper & Wits, a Procter & Gamble brand targeted at menopausal women, and plant-based dietary supplements. Even Olay now has moisturisers specially aimed at menopausal skin.

Apparel brands Become, Cucumber Clothing and Fifty One Apparel are creating temperature-controlled clothes that will help women experiencing hot flushes and night sweating keep cool.

The timing of these products is spot on. In the US, an estimated 50 million women will be 51 or older by 2020. According to the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, US National Library of Medicine, several hundred million women worldwide are currently experiencing the menopausal transition.

As feisty Apurva Purohit, president of Jagran Prakashan and author of Lady, You Are the Boss, says, “For the first time in history, there will be a large number of women going through peri menopause and menopause and will be working. Thus it is essential that conversations around these life-changing events increase. Our mothers and grandmothers suffered in silence. But we need not do so.”

She approves of products being created for menopausal women, pointing out, “There are very few products which are designed keeping women in mind, in any case — be it the mobile phone size or the car seat height or the air-conditioner at work. So I am happy to see products addressing women and their specific needs.”

A long way to go in India

However, marketing consultant and author Aparna Jain feels that in India we have a long way to go for the trend to catch on. In the US, a mindset shift has already begun about older women. If you look at cinema or web series, they are portrayed as independent women, many of them dating at that age, she says.

In India, on the other hand, women above 50 are stereotyped as attending kitty parties and there is immense pressure to look and behave a certain way.

“Until there is agency around growing old and how a 50-year-old woman’s life is not dramatically different from a 30-year-old’s, such products will be a far cry here,” she stresses.

Popular media, films and advertising in India have a role to play in how they portray women, she points out. Indeed, in a survey in the UK, most women felt that advertising did not portray women over 45 authentically, and creatives needed a reset.

Are agencies and brands listening?

Published on October 31, 2019

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