The XX Factor

Rich Older Women Just Want Pringles?

I can’t quite get my head around the piece about More magazine in today’s New York Times . Apparently the fact that a magazine aimed at women over 40 is pulling readers who are women over 40-and rich ones, at that-is off-putting to advertisers. Silly me, I thought all advertisers cared about was money! But even though “the average More reader makes about $93,000, around $30,000 more than the average for Vogue , Allure or Harper’s Bazaar , according to Mediamark Research and Intelligence,” the ads it runs are notably low end: “The July/August issue’s ads included Crystal Light, Pringles, Coffee-Mate, packaged meals from Oscar Mayer, Bertolli, Tyson and Marie Callender’s, and two liquor ads-for wines under $10. Oh, and Friskies.”

What am I missing here? Are women over 40 really so dreadfully uncool that it’s worthless-or worse-to have them buy your expensive wares? Or so close to death that their spending power is rendered moot? Other theories that my colleagues have offered, in response to my baffled query as to what these advertisers could possibly be thinking: that older women are less likely to switch to new brands; that women old enough to have kids and a mortgage aren’t going to want to spend frivolously. Really?

Granted, I’m being influenced by my atypical surroundings-Manhattan streets crawling with uber-chic white-haired ladies; a mother whose Casch by Gro Abrahamsson coat makes me drool-but I’ve often spotted and been inspired by well-dressed women of the More demographic; more inspired, actually than by similarly-stylish women my own age. With a fancy Gen Yer, I’ll assume she has some means (inherited wealth; an investment banking job; a sugar daddy) that I can’t hope to achieve. But a designer-clad Baby Boomer gives me something to look forward to: Maybe once I’ve squirreled away enough for a house and kids and my kids’ college education, I too can be indulgent and stylish.

Writing off older buyers as brand killers seems wrong to me, as does assuming that they wouldn’t spend on anything but lunch meat and diet drinks. After all, as seems to be typical of my generation, the only way I’d wind up with a Gucci bag or Tiffany necklace would be if a friend or relative 50 or older bought it for me. So why in the world would advertisers eschew the ones with the spending power in favor of someone like me? Are illogical discrimination and unfounded misconceptions to blame for advertisers steering clear of More ? Or is there something … more to it?

Photograph by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers/Getty Images.