While considering the angle I would approach January’s topic ‘Age and Beauty’, a conversation I recently had with my eighty-something-year-old grandmother sprang to mind; the family had just returned from a shopping trip in Norwich, my mother and myself had purchased one or two garments each, however, my grandmother had returned empty handed, stating, in so many words, ‘There are no shops for women of my age’. Somewhat predictably, I instantly thought; ‘well there’s always Marks & Spencer’s’…
However, although my subconscious had directed her to M&S, my conscious considered my Grandmother’s statement further; in November 2013, I had attended a talk by Jan Heere (International Director for M&S). Jan Heere was discussing the future for M&S; highlighting the brands desire to become more in-touch with the fast fashion, online/app market.
One of the ways Jan Heere suggested M&S were attempting to achieve their goal, was by turning some of their stores into electronic shops, or, as he termed, ‘e-boutiques’. Heere went on to explain that these ‘e-boutiques’ were being formulated to attract the younger customer; something the brand has famously failed in doing, repeatedly.
However, over 2.1 million of Marks & Spencer’s UK customers are over 50, for example, my Grandmother doesn’t ever shop online, nor does she own a smart phone, furthermore, neither will the majority of the other 2.1 million over 50’s.
When Heere was presented with the above concerns, he suggested that ‘everything’ was going online, therefore, to keep up, while M&S have their bricks and mortar stores, they now consider their flagship store to be their website; that’s where the future lies.
Therefore, with the ever growing emphasis for online/mobile shopping, perhaps my Grandmother was right; there seem to be fewer and fewer retailers catering to the ‘older’ consumer, despite the fact they have a disposable income. Unfortunately, people like my Grandmother feel disregarded, unwelcome or excluded from the fashion industry, due to the increasing number of retailers adapting their brand to attract the younger consumer while, somewhat, forgetting their loyal grey pound.