Document Type

Conference Paper


Available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International Licence


Business and Management., Demography, Women's and gender studies

Publication Details

Conference proceedings of the 19th European Association for Education and Research in Commercial Distribution (EAERCD) Conference, 4th - 6th July, 2017 at Technological University Dublin.


The fashion retail sector is going through extremely challenging times with continuing globalisation and the ongoing impact of the recent global recession in many markets. Markets are highly competitive and companies must strive to craft strategies which will deliver competitive advantage. Across the developed and the developing world, populations are ageing. The trend is so marked as to have been termed an ‘Agequake’ by A.T. Kearney, (2011, 1) in terms of its predicted impact on economies, companies and most particularly, retailers. Women aged 50 and over are now one of the most powerful consumer groups in the UK, spending more than £2.5bn per season on fashion (Kantar Worldpanel 2014). Furthermore, 90% of British retailers are seeing most growth come from the 50 plus sector (Smithers, 2014). Yet research commissioned by retailer JD Williams in 2014 found that over 60% of mature women (defined in the study as 50 plus) felt ‘underserved’ and ‘forgotten’ by the fashion industry. Given the macro, socio-demographic trends of a growing segment of mature consumers with high disposable incomes, the question must be asked why mature women feel the fashion industry has forgotten them and whether fashion retailers are overlooking the opportunity for competitive advantage which would accrue from targeting this potentially lucrative segment? This paper will review the key literature in the areas of segmentation and maturity to gain an insight into the segmentation strategies of the fashion retail sector and their perception of the mature female consumer. Furthermore, the possibility of an academic / practitioner divide will be reviewed to establish whether this exists and if so to establish its impact on the segmentation strategies of fashion retailers.