Published on January 7th, 2009 | by Rahel Bailie0
Experience design for the market segment of middle-aged women
It’s natural to want to categorize our customers; in fact, it’s a necessity. Some of the segmentation is quite misunderstood, and organizations are missing valuable opportunities by not investigating the changing nature of the segments. Here’s an email I received last month from a colleague that demonstrates:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RAHEL!
It may not be the coolest thing to send gift certificates as birthday presents, but:
1) There aren’t many same-day delivery gift options.
2) All online gift-selection guides are too narrow minded and in a dire need of some faceted taxonomy: a woman our age can only be a domestic diva, country clubber, or super grandma, and a geek can only be a young dude; there’s no way to find something for a geek grandma.
3) I hope you’ll enjoy browsing the product catalogue.
Most consumers wouldn’t articulate the problem as clearly as my taxonomy guru colleague. I’ve had this frustration for years, starting with becoming a grandmother at age 40, and finding myself represented in the media by 80-year-old white-haired, hunch-backed women in rocking chairs, their knees covered with shawls. Well, it’s more than a decade later, and I’m in the gym three times a week, working out with my personal trainer, and watching my media alter ego get a little younger and a little more active, but mostly, I’m supposed to be verging on arthritic or incontinent and see lots of medical professionals to fix me up when I’m not in discomfort on the golf course. On the other hand, at least I’m now being shown on a golf course instead of in a rocking chair!
In all fairness, there are a few posts for geek grannies – there’s even a link to a spoof video of a gangsta granny (again, hunch-backed and white hair). I was thinking more along the lines of Goldie Hawn or Kathy Bates.
Given that I’m working on a couple of design projects for fitness-related, health-related sites, these observations hit closer to home than usual. I suspect there needs to be more middle-aged women in advertising, design, and related fields, as our perspectives can show how different the landscape looks from this side of 50.