Dangerous Women Over 50

August 10, 2010

ABD founders Jean Ketcham (left) and C. Suzanne Bates don't fear the reaper.

Editor’s note: This is John Reinan’s weekly marketing column for MinnPost.com.

It’s long been accepted as marketing gospel that younger is better. Younger people are more receptive to new things; the older demographic is set in its ways. If someone has been using Crest toothpaste for 30 years, they’re not likely to suddenly switch to Colgate, so why bother marketing to them?

That thinking is due for a change, I’d argue. For one thing, today’s older generation has been dealing with radical change throughout its entire life: the birth of TV and the suburban lifestyle, the cultural changes of the ’60s, the entrance of women into the workforce, the rise of the computer and the Internet– the list goes on.

Today’s gray heads often have a surprisingly youthful outlook on life. And many of them have money to spend.

That view animates Minneapolis-based Aging But DANGEROUS, a combination dot-com company and advocacy group that encourages over-50 women to stretch their boundaries– while urging business to pay attention to this underserved demographic.

“I’m just shocked at how invisible we are to marketers,” said C. Suzanne Bates, co-founder of the group. “When women age, their testosterone levels rise. Meanwhile, men who have been used to managing and bossing people, being in control, they’re kind of burned out.

“So in many cases, the woman really starts being the stronger of the two in decision making. If you can convince women to buy a product, you can be pretty well assured of an edge in selling that product.”

Bates and her business partner, Jean Ketcham, hope to become spokespeople for women over 50, working to change society’s view of them and their peers. They use ABD as a vehicle to mount events that draw attention to their cause and raise money for charity.

Last year, they held a fashion show featuring models aged 50 to 79. Next year, they plan to hold the world’s largest colonoscopy clinic in a Minneapolis hotel ballroom.

But their current venture is the Martini Jump, an Aug. 28 skydiving event in Baldwin, Wis., for which they hope to attract 80 jumpers. (Interested? Sign up here.)

“Women just love this,” Bates said. “We’re having a pre-jump party Aug. 26 at Crave, so the jumpers can bond. We’re going to do this in other major cities, as well.”

Bates said the pair is working on a book and is talking to agents about a possible reality TV series. They’ve also got a facial mask product coming out in the fall, to be sold as “Aging But DANGEROUS Facelift Potion.” As with all ABD promotions, a portion of the proceeds will go to charity.

“We want to create new norms for our age,” Bates said. “It’s about reducing your But– not your butt, your But.”