Socioemotional Selectivity Theory: Implications for Consumer Research
Older consumers are an increasingly important market segment. Understanding the goals of their consumption activities is critical for marketers who seek to create products and services that are relevant to them. Past research has revealed substantial differences in how older versus young adult consumers respond to marketplace factors (for reviews, see Cole et al., 2008; Yoon et al., 2005; Yoon, Cole, & Lee, 2009). Until relatively recently, most of this research has attributed these differences to age-related shortfalls in the cognitive system. Previous studies have shown that, compared to young adults, older adults have decreased attentional ability and memory (including sensory, working, short-term, long-term, and remote memory; for a review, see Poon, 1985). Older adults also have a relatively
decreased capacity to process data deeply and elaborately. These cognitive deficits influence how older consumers process information (e.g., John & Cole, 1986; Yoon, 1997) and in turn how they respond to marketing variables, such as product information (e.g., Cole & Balasubramanian, 1993; Cole & Gaeth, 1990); advertising (e.g., Drolet, Williams, & Lau-Gesk, 2007; Gaeth & Heath, 1987; Skurnik, Yoon, Park, & Schwarz, 2005); and retail channels (e.g., Lambert-Pandraud, Laurent, & Lapersonne, 2005).