Impact of Age on Brand Choice
Brand choice processes and actual brand choices differ importantly across consumers of different age groups. This chapter presents selected findings and reviews the potential underlying mechanisms.
Older consumers tend to prefer long-established brands. Their awareness set comprises typically fewer, older brands. This leads to smaller considerations sets and a shrinking purchase process. Not surprisingly, older consumers have a higher tendency to repeat purchase the previous brand. As a consequence, market shares depend on both consumer age and brand age (how long ago the brand was introduced).
A variety of mechanisms may account for these results. They include well-known age-related factors: cognitive decline in memory and processing speed, biological aging and its impact on physical capabilities, increased aversion to change, declining innovativeness, increased socioemotional selectivity, stronger brand attachment and habits built over time, and nostalgia. Expertise may have opposite effects, depending on whether expertise acquired over a lifetime is still relevant for today’s market offering. Of course, it is difficult to delineate the effects of age, cohort, and period.
We review questions for further research and consider the public policy issues. What can be done to protect older consumers while helping them realize benefits from both the new market opportunities and their own accumulated experience?