Noosa, you were fantastic. Weather that saw me up at 6am and in the ocean just after the first beach coffee of the day. Fun outdoor dining with fresh seafood and cocktails that made me feel 20 again. It felt like not just summer but other cool life possibilities were around the corner.

So far, so fabulous. Yet there was a glaring omission that really bugged me during my five days in town. Something that represents a huge disservice to women and a giant missed opportunity for brands to gain their money and loyalty.

Some background: I joined around 2300 other women (and a handful of men) to do the Noosa Coastrek, a 30km Sunshine Coast walk. Me and three Melbourne girlfriends were among hundreds travelling to Noosa to make a girls’ trip of it.

My personal mission wasn’t just to fundraise over $3K for Beyond Blue with our group (collectively, the women walkers raised more than $1.5 million) but to have a great time. I was escaping responsibility at home and work. At an increasingly youthful 51, I was having an awakening.

I’m confident I wasn’t alone. Many of the other women were also experiencing an empowering transformation during perimenopause or menopause. They’re putting their own needs first for the first time since their twenties, often after a health wake-up call.

Now coming into their prime and dedicated to creating their best lives, they’re independent, professional, experienced, highly adventurous. They’re cashed up and looking for fun. It’s why there are bucket loads of women over 40 (like me) who take up hiking and do things like the Larapinta.

These women are seeking connection—reconnection with self and friends as they prioritise their own needs after decades caring for kids.

And this is where Noosa got it wrong.

There were thousands of women in town with money and time to burn, and brands really missed the opportunity to offer add-ons to the event. 

It was a golden opportunity for Noosa to gear up and reap the benefits, but there was little evidence that the wellness, lifestyle, travel and hospitality industries cared or even saw it. A notable exception was Champion apparel, who saw the value in reaching this valuable segment by sponsoring our outfits for walk day.

As a marketer with a special interest and expertise in women and their consumer needs and spending habits, I was bewildered as to why brands ignored the collective power of this event.

The facts: Coastrek—which has raised over $40 million for mental health via 40,000 participants—nails it in catering for Gen X women creating new lives. It sparks connection with other women by having all participants walk in teams (tick), provides a perfect excuse to get away with friends by having their fundraising walks out of town in great locations (tick) and does good, which makes the women feel good too.

I couldn’t believe brands weren’t fighting over rights to partner with Coastrek and develop strong relationships with a captive audience of thousands of women who were busting to buy.

Brands need to know that Gen X women represent a key transition moment for brands. Most don’t even acknowledge it, which means they lose revenue and opportunities to boost sales, reputation and visibility.

Here’s a snapshot for these brands. Women over 45 who are working and balancing the needs of dependent older children and the increasing health needs of ageing parents regularly feel overlooked by media and brands. They feel as if they are Invisible Mums.

Despite being an increasingly affluent shopper who often influences or controls the finances of three generations, these women say they’re rarely seen in advertising let alone catered for in services and products they might want.

In Marketing to Mums’ study of 1800 Australian mothers, Invisible Mums were the most dissatisfied segment. Not surprising, perhaps, given 94 per cent of those working in the ad industry is under 50 and lacks empathy for these women in a competitive marketing environment.

Business and brands that cater for women over 40 and mums, I’m your ideal client. And I’m also Australia’s longest standing, best researched marketing expert to the mum segment (I launched the world’s first podcast about Marketing to Mothers in 2018.)

If you want to learn more about Gen X women and how to reach them, I’d love to share what I know personally and professionally.

Let’s talk. And let’s hope that next Coastrek, there are wellness, athleisure and travel brands smart and motivated enough to grab the great marketing opportunity in front of them.