Why Gucci’s New Focus on Older Consumers is Fashion Forward

Luxury brands are obsessed with reaching millennials. But amid the herd of brands seeking out younger consumers, one major brand is heading in the opposite direction.

Gucci is shifting gears to focus on the over 40s, a change in direction that follows a 10 percent drop in quarterly earnings in the final three months of 2020.

"Capturing an older, non-millennial demographic and rebalancing product, price and age mix with a slight change in aesthetics and merchandising" is essential for Gucci, according to Thomas Chauvet, an analyst at Citi.

Older consumers have been among the most neglected demographics of the luxury market, says Pauline Brown, professor at Columbia University and former head of Louis Vuitton North America.

Yet, brand loyalty is highest in Gen X consumers, according to an eMarketer survey. More than four in 10 customers over 40 stick to brands they like, the study found.

The other good news for brands is that Gen X -- generally defined as those born between 1965 and 1980 -- is both digital and can remember an era before digital. As consumers, this makes them responsive to both new and old ways of marketing. There are plenty of them: Gen X, the biggest purchasers of iPhones, make up 26 percent of the European population and 20 percent in the US. For them, it's normal to shop local - a key focus for luxury brands in 2021.

While products may vary by demographic group, at BSPK we find that expectations of what it means to offer a great customer experience cuts across generations. A great customer experience, we would argue, is even more important than the product itself in driving loyalty for brands.

McCann Worldgroup, a global advertising agency network, conducted research that recommended marketers shift from “age” to “attitudinal” segmentation. Instead of age ranges, it outlined different attitudes: Ageless Adventurers, Communal Caretakers, Actualizing Adults, Youth Chasers and Future Fearers.

Nadia Tuma-Weldon, lead for the Global Luxury Practice and SVP of Truth Central, said that even if you look at one small segment "you'll get a kaleidoscope of different attitudes" and that “it's almost like the demographics that we've created are a barrier to us understanding people at a deeper level."

Inclusivity is one of the profound drivers shaping fashion today. Here's to a new era that's just as inclusive in how brands engage their customers, both young and old.