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Why is the beauty and fashion world so obsessed with buying youth?

By on August 22, 2021 0
More brands will likely reach out to a younger, cooler audience (Photo: Tiffany)

When Tiffany & Co launched its #NotYourMothersTiffany campaign, it encountered backlash.

The heritage brand is clearly trying to attract a younger clientele with this campaign by appearing cool and fresh – allegedly unlike a middle-aged woman, and far removed from their elegant Audrey Hepburn-style glamor.

On the one hand, people felt that the tagline alienated Tiffany’s main audience (possibly achieving their goal), but some also felt it was deaf given the luxury cost of Tiffany pieces, which are out of the ordinary. of reach for many millennials and gen z buyers.

An article on the company’s Twitter account read: “Who are you calling the old fashioned way?” – others say: ‘Not cool, you say? Tell us more ‘and’ This is not an old school ‘, so despite the reviews, the brand is still pushing this narrative hard.

One Twitter user replied that the rebranding was “falling so flat… who does he think can afford / buy Tiffany ?? Most Wanted Ad Campaign Possible, ”with echoes of that sentiment across the platform.

We have sought feedback from the brand, although they haven’t provided an answer on their motives here.

This recent event in the fashion world tells a larger story around our aversion to aging and how it affects what we buy.

We’ve been told for years that sex is what sells, but maybe it was short-sighted, doesn’t resonate as strongly today, and is gendered towards straight cis men.

Now we seem to have moved into a phase of brands focused on youth and freshness, so it’s no surprise that Tiffany wants to capitalize on this – we just have to look to brands like Glossier, which are capturing. so well this aesthetic, to see the potential Success.

When Glossier, for example, did something that elicited a reaction from its younger audience – using glitter that weren’t biodegradable – they pulled the product and returned to their cool, young and fun image.

What’s not necessarily cool about Tiffany’s campaign is that she directly addresses age – and the idea of ​​explicit ageism is not so acceptable.


Brighter Pop-Up in Boston's Harbor District
Glossier has built a brand that connects with Millennials and Gen Z audiences (Photo: Jonathan Wiggs / The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

But the fact remains, as a societal collective, we often aspire to appear contemporary, in tune with the times and in the air.

Things that look aged are only cool if they’re shamelessly worn as vintage.

So why do we have such a complex relationship with aging and consumerism?

Caroline Plumer, Founder and Senior Therapist at CPPC London, who previously worked in branding, tells us that our inherent dislike of aging and the appearance of old age is subconsciously rooted in a primal, morbid fear of death.

“Psychologically, we all know that someday we will inevitably die and we are aware of it, but the only way to live our life is not to connect too deeply to it on a daily basis,” she said. Explain.

“We are very rarely given the reverse side of aging, namely people who feel good about themselves, for example.

“We see youth as a beauty, we dye our hair to look younger, so we are very focused on the youthful aesthetic and to make it something that is prized.”

Caroline believes the landscape has changed over the past two generations – thanks to a boom in things like cosmetic procedures.

Portrait of confident African American woman

Brands that laser-focus on young people could end up alienating their existing customer base (Photo: Getty Images / Refinery29 RF)

“People are really keeping their youth now [due to treatments and fashion]’she says, which is the result of heightened anxiety about aging, while also working as a breeding ground for additional anxiety as pressure mounts to follow these trends.

“This kind of marketing, when we’re saturated, sends a message that ‘it’s not cool to be old or to buy certain brands’ – it tells us that we are no longer worth or worth.” , she adds.

“A lot of old people talk about suddenly becoming invisible – you go from smiling on the street to not being noticed.”

Social media has an impact here as we maintain our looks and our lives in a proactive way that hasn’t existed so strongly in the past – brands need to follow that as well.

Dr Francesca Bonettiy, assistant professor at the London College of Fashion, tells us that brands will continue to exploit our desire to look young.

“I believe that more than seeing brands alienate their original clientele, there will be more brands that will reposition themselves to attract their original clientele as well as a younger and ‘cooler’ segment, which wants be seen as modern, ”she says.

“Maybe in years gone by, fashion told the consumer what to buy, but nowadays it seems more like the consumer is telling brands what to design, or a combination of them. two, through social media.

“You have to differentiate between the brands that dictate the trends (those of traditional luxury like Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton) and those emerging or those of fast fashion.

“The consumer certainly has a much more active voice, but brands need to listen to their customers and consumers while being true to their brand identity. “

More and more brands, like Tiffany, will shed their old identity in favor of one that might catch a younger eye.

Beauty brand Crabtree & Evelyn did this a few years ago, moving from country flowers to simple millennial pink and green packaging.

Karine Laudort, a fashion expert, believes that: “At any time, brands can go viral for good or bad reasons and social media can make or break them,” and the way they play with it. age will be a factor.

As fashion and trends rely more than ever on a two-way relationship between brand and consumer, ageism is a problem plaguing this world.

Partly because brands sell us youth, part because we have an appetite for it.

Karine says the issue of ageism has become more apparent “since the digital space has evolved with new online platforms and social media networks and applications.”

“This new way of consuming is mostly more favorable to young people who have no problem spending money online and, unfortunately, fashion conglomerates obviously care about sales figures and profit margins,” notes she does.

“This is clearly seen in the face choices of most of the big brands who seem to think younger faces are more popular and will appeal to a larger audience.

“It has also led to the birth of a plethora of Instagram-only or online-only brands, leaving physical retail stores to struggle when no digital presence has been developed.”

Essentially, the buying habits of younger consumers are partly responsible for the fact that brands favor them over older people.

The unfortunate reaction Tiffany has faced reveals that we want the rebranding to be appropriate and, in a way, inclusive.

Soon it will exclude people based on age considered old-fashioned.

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