The Cougar has become the latest buzz of pop culture phenomena. From shows like The Real Desperate Housewives, Sex in the City, and the recent, Cougar Town, to the constant tabloid reports of Cougars ‘on the prowl”, there is no doubt that the Cougar craze is sweeping the nation. Even E! Entertainment network did a countdown special, in 2008, called the “25 Hottest Hollywood Cougar Tales”.

This trend has been perpetuated by the influence of many celebrity women and it has become a social phenomenon. Demi Moore, Madonna, Kim Cattrall, and Courtney Cox, are just a few of the many celebrity women who have been getting the attention of the media for their dating habits. All these women are over 40, with the body of a 20 some year old, and are dating or married to a significantly younger man.

Demi Moore was 42 when she tied the knot with heartthrob, Ashton Kutcher who was 27.

This recent trend, of older women dating significantly younger men, has become as cliché as the “Sugar Daddy” and the “Gold Digger”. The social phenomenon of the Cougar has moved from the media into the mainstream. According to a 2003 survey by AARP, 34 percent of women between the ages of 40 to 60 are dating younger men.

Some Background on The Cougar

The term “Cougar” was said to of originated in the 1980’s, by the Canadian hockey team, The Vancouver Canucks. They would use this term to describe the older, single women, who would come to the team’s games to pursue players sexually.

Over the years, the term has been given many definitions and connotations, mostly negative, but in recent years, the Cougar has become the term to describe women over the age of 40, who are highly educated, successful, and independent; and embrace their sexuality and enjoy dating younger men.

Why Younger Men?

There are many reasons why women over the age of 40 are dating much younger men. Many women do not feel like they have anything in common with men their own age. Biologically, women hit their sexual peek in their late 30s to 40s, where as men hit theirs in their 20s. So it makes sense why these women are seeking out younger men. Also, these women are not tied down by traditional gender roles and younger men are more open-minded about women as equals.

Lisa Daily, author of “How to Date Like a Grown-Up: Everything You Need to Know to Get Out There, Get Lucky, or Even Get Married in Your 40s, 50s, and Beyond,” shares the “7 Secrets of the Cougars and Why Younger Men Love Them.” It provides a good overview of the reasons why younger men and older women are engaging in relationships.

1) Cougars are comfortable holding the power in the relationship.

2) Are secure with their looks and their bodies, even if they’re not perfect.

3) Tend to have a wide variety of interests, which makes an age gap less significant (and makes it easier to meet younger men).

4) Usually are not concerned with what others think of them.

5) Generally not looking for a provider or someone to have a family with—they’re self-sufficient.

6) Generally not tied down with traditional roles.

7) Are in it for fun or sex.

 

Why Marketers and Advertisers Should Understand Cougars as a Consumer Group

This trend has become a relatively new niche market that is waiting to be dominated. Advertisers and marketers need to understand this consumer group and should consider targeting these women for several reasons.

One reason is that Cougars are members of the Baby Boomer generation. Boomer women make up about 19% of the total U.S. population. Also Boomer women are characterized as being highly educated, very successful, affluent, and have a ton of spending power. Unlike previous generations, who were winding down their spending at age 55, Boomers will spend their money on the latest technology, redecorating, vacations and postpones retirement. Also, these women take very good care of themselves, and are willing to spend a lot of money on products and services to defy the aging process.

A big reason that this niche market should be considered by marketers and advertisers is that there niche marketing allows a company to become a true expert within a particular realm, while building a reputable brand name among its consumers. Since there are less mainstream providers supplying this niche market with products and services that meet their wants and needs, the market is easier to dominate. Also, from a strategic standpoint, it is much more focused and easier to segment and target.

Since the Cougar is a relatively new consumer group, there is a lot of potential for success if a brand enters into this niche market now, since it is still growing. In conclusion, marketers and advertisers should start educating themselves about this trend and the consumer group, because it appears that it’s not fading anytime soon.

 

For more information or questions contact me at emily.cosgrove@temple.edu