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AGE SUBCULTURES. Age and Consumer Identity. General marketing strategies are often modified to fit specific age groups. Why?. Age exerts a significant influence on identity

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Age and Consumer Identity

General marketing strategies are often modified to fit specific age groups. Why?

  • Age exerts a significant influence on identity
  • Consumers undergo predictable changes in their values, lifestyles, and consumption patterns as they move through their life cycle.
  • Marketers need to know how to communicate with members of an age group in their own language.
  • In other words, consumption patterns change
age subcultures
Age Subcultures

What is an Age Cohort?

people of similar ages who have undergone similar experiences.

  • Children
  • Preteens
  • Teens
  • Millennials 1982-Present
  • Generation X (1965 and 1980)
  • Baby Boomers (1946 – 1964)
  • The Elderly

How would you segment the Canadian market by age?

age structure of the canadian population
Age Structure of the Canadian Population
  • under 25:199634% 2002: 31.9 %
  • 25 - 64 years old 1996 54% 2002: 55.4%
  • 65 years or older 1996 11% 2002: 12.7%
  • 50% of youth under the age of 25 or 4,831,650 people reported an origin other than British, French or Canadian.
  • 2001 Calgary had the second youngest census metropolitan area with a median age of 34.9 (Saskatoon was youngest (34.4 years)
  • Oldest was Trois-Rivières, Quebec, median age 41.2

Children in the Marketplace

How do Children impact the Marketplace?

  • Directly influence the spending of their parents.
  • 67 percent of families buying a new car base the purchase decision on advice from their children
  • 80% of the time when parents purchase a brand their children have heavily influenced the final decision?
  • Indirectly influence the spending of their parents –necessities
  • also have substantial spending power and purchase several products

Shopping With Kids

A man observed a woman in the grocery store with a three year old girl in her basket. As they passed the cookie section, the little girl asked for cookies and her mother told her no. The little girl immediately began to whine and fuss, and the mother said quietly, "Now Monica, we just have half of the aisles left to go through; don't be upset. It won't be long." Soon they came to the candy aisle, and the little girl began to shout for candy. And when told she couldn't have any, began to cry. The mother said, "There, there, Monica, don't cry--only two more aisles to go, and then we'll be checking out." When they got to the check-out stand, the little girl immediately began to clamor for gum and burst into a terrible tantrum upon discovering there'd be no gum purchased. The mother patiently said, "Monica, we'll be through this check out stand in 5 minutes and then you can go home and have a nice nap." The man followed them out to the parking lot and stopped the woman to compliment her. "I couldn't help noticing how patient you were with little Monica," he began. Whereupon the mother said, "I'm Monica -- my little girl's name is Tammy."


“tweens” (8- to 14-year-olds) spent or influenced the spending of $1.88 trillion globally 2002 (Martin LindstromBrandchild )

  • spent almost $200 billion of their own money.
  • Children's spending has roughly doubled every ten years for the past three decades

Why are kids able to influence their parents so heavily?

Parents are trying to stay trendy for much longer and will look to their child to be the opinion leader for what brands to look for


Children as Consumers in Training

Consumer socialization: process by which people children acquire skills, knowledge, attitudes relevant to theirfunctioning as consumers in the marketplace.


How does it Occur?

  • observation
  • television
  • direct experience
  • Parental influence
  • shared shopping experiences

How does Television Influence Children to be consumers?

  • Teaches the culture’s values, myths, and idealized images.
  • average child sees between 20,000-40,000 commercials every year
  • an 18-month-old can recognize corporate labels

Marketing to Kids

  • ratings for traditional Saturday morning television programming fell 50 percent from 1994 to 1998.
  • At the same time, radio became more popular
  • Kids who say they “like listening to radio a lot”
    • Age 6-8 45%
    • Age 9-11 70%
    • Age 12-14 80%
  • In many families, it is the school aged children who are the computer experts, rather than the adults.
    • Web sites with special “kid-friendly” graphics may attract their attention to your company

Six core values drive all successful marketing to tweens

  • Fantasy
  • Mastery
  • Love
  • Fear
  • Stability
  • humour.
  • Today's tweens thrive on upgrades. In marketing planning, the luxury of time has gone - product evolution needs to happen over weeks and months, not years.
  • Belonging to a group is a crucial part of tween life.
  • Tweens look up to their leaders and inspire each other.
  • Peer-to-peer marketing will play an increasingly important role in creating successful tween brands.

tweens spend 60% more time watching TV each year than they do in school. 

  • the typical American, Australian or British child will see as many as 40,000 TV commercials each year.
  • Product placements in movies and TV are likely to become the primary vehicle in tween marketing in the future.
  • Another opportunity is in the interactive world. 50% of tweens log on each day,
  • 70 percent of all European tweens send text messages every day. The effect is that trends spread rapidly, with brands carried along in the flow.
  • To reach the tweens, online games, chat rooms and virtual worlds will become key components of marketing plans within five years.
  • M-branding, or ads on mobile phones displays, will also be an important way to reach tweens.

Assume your company manufactures and sells bicycles targeted to the 10-12 age group. How would you reach your target audience?


Ritz Bits S'Mores Sumo Wrestling Advergame


$2 Billion annually is spent marketing to kids

  • Channel One a 12-minute  in-school "news" program shown in about 30% of US secondary schools. (12,000 schools, 7 million teenagers) that has won numerous awards.
  • Channel one gives free video equipment to financially strapped schools.
  • Schools give their students as an audience in exchange.

New math

  • "Will is saving his allowance to buy a pair of Nike shoes that cost $68.25. If Will earns $3.25 per week, how many weeks will Will need to save?“

A: 21


Oct 1998 ZapMe! Corp. provided 230 schools in the USA with free computer labs with free Internet access, computers, tech support, and maintenance. By mid 2000 over schools were using the program

  • In exchange, the schools had to promise that a student will use each computer for at least 4 hours daily while a small banner ad appeared constantly on the screen.
  • The computers monitored students' Internet browsing habits and broke down the data by gender, grade level, and zip code.
  • With a large captive audience schools offer an efficient, inexpensive locale for polling large numbers of children.
  • Opening schools to marketers is also an attractive way for schools to raise funds.
  • What do you think about Market research companies doing research in schools?
  • Under pressure from anti-commercialism groups the program ended Nov. 2000

Because children differ from adults in cognitive development, knowledge, experience, and ability to comprehend concepts of increasing complexity, they do not react the same as adults to the efforts of marketers.

  • Young Kids’ cognitive defenses are not yet developed enough to filter out commercial appeals.
  • Consequently, serious ethical issues surround marketing to children.
  • If you were a government official responsible for protecting children from unscrupulous marketers, what advertising guidelines would you set?

Rules For Advertising to Kids In Canada

1.  Advertisers must not use words like "new," "introducing" and "introduces" to describe a product for more than one year.

2.  Advertisers are not allowed to exaggerate (eg. bigger or faster )

3.  Advertisers may not promote craft and building toys that the average kid can't put together.Also, the finished project should look like the picture of the finished product that appears on the box.

4.  Advertisers are not allowed to sell products that aren't meant for kids (eg. vitamins or drugs )

5.  Advertisers are not allowed to recommend that you have to buy their product, or that you should make your parents buy it for you.

6.  Advertisers may not use well-known kids' entertainers (including cartoon characters) to promote or endorse a product. Although advertisers can create their own characters for kids, like "Tony The Tiger" or the "Nestlé Quick Bunny," . This rule does not apply to packaging,


7.  Advertisers can't make you believe that you're getting everything that's shown in the commercial.

  • In their ads, advertisers have to tell you exactly what you are getting when you buy the toy. Advertisers are supposed to clearly state:
    • The complete price of every part of the toy they are showing, whenever the price is mentioned in an ad.
    • Any parts of the toy shown in the commercial that cost extra.
    • Any other toys in the commercial that are sold separately.
  • 8.  Advertisers are not allowed to show kids or adults doing unsafe things with the product.
  • 9.  Advertisers can't suggest that using their product will make you better than other kids or make kids think that people will make fun of them if they don't use the product.
  • 10.  Advertisers cannot show more than one commercial for the same product in a half-hour period.

Teen Facts

  • Teenage Marketing and Lifestyle Survey found children 12 to 19 spent more than $153 billion in 1999, up from $140 billion in 1998
  • Teens also spend $56 of their own money and $28 of their parents’ money per week.
  • Most can be spent on discretionary items like movies, CDs, and electronic games. 2005 40% of movie tickets bought by teens
  • the number of kids and teens online increased from 26.6 million in 2000 to 34.3 million in 2003. In fact, the under-18 demographic now comprises over 20% of the US online population
  • 2005 teens influenced $400 billion of parents spending in US

Teens also influence substantial additional family spending by expressing their preferences for certain products or brands that their parents then purchase

  • Teens are trendsetters both for their peers and for younger children who emulate them
  • Teens are future consumers. By winning the business of a teen, a company may be able to create a lifelong loyal customer.
  • Teens are a growing market; last estimate 29 million; expected to be 35 million by 2010

91%- going to the movies;

  • 90%- internet;
  • 86%- going to college;
  • 86%- having a boyfriend/girlfriend;
  • 86%- dating;
  • 86%- "partying";
  • 86%- computers;
  • 86% on-line computer services;
  • 86%- playing sports;
  • 85%- shopping

How would you characterize teenagers in terms of their:

      • Needs
      • Values
      • Lifestyles
      • Attitudes
      • Interests

What are the implications of these things for the marketing mix?


Marketing to Teens

  • Advertisers have found that teens have little patience for hype or pretentious ads and prefer ads that talk to them in realistic ways and focus on their actual lifestyles.
  • Teens are savvy about marketing and likely to reject messages perceived as patronizing or trying too hard to be “cool,” so that marketing to teens calls for more subtle methods.

Girls Central Intelligence Agency

  • Los Angeles-based marketing firm
  • "Slumber Party In A Box" -- "40,000 secret agent influencers and their closest friends . . . Your product only, all night long . . . Behind enemy lines -- GIA gets you into girls' bedrooms . . . Obtain immediate, candid data from the trenches."
  • For 8-13-year-old girls, where fitting in is paramount, this is a chance to be cool, to be a trend-setter, to get free stuff, and to be "special":
  • As a "secret agent," you tell GIA what your friends think.
  • GIA's clients, get a personalized focus group and can watch their product spread by buzz into the female youth market.
  • Controversy - many girls don't see that they are being used, that their friendships are being exploited.

Age aspiration

  • Children watch their older siblings, those ahead of them in school, older children in the neighborhood etc. Generally, youth “aspire up” in their consumer behaviour, trying to “live a step or two ahead of where they really are.”
  • Marketers take advantage of children’s behaviour to link their strategies for marketing to the teen and tween cohorts by presenting older teens in the media, and desire aspects of their lifestyles and behaviours.
  • For example, to reach 12- to 15-year-olds, advertisers might use 17-year-old actors, who will appeal to children their own age as well as to younger children,

Direct Mail

  • Because teens receive little mail they tend to be more attentive to direct marketing offers

“go where they are.”

  • There are a multitude of media and vehicles targeted at youth, such as cable music networks, teen-oriented magazines, teen-oriented Web sites, and lifestyle special events
  • substantial numbers of youth also comprise the audience of media intended for a general audience, e.g. general circulation magazines or television shows that are popular with both adults and children.

The Internet

  • Teenagers in Canada spend more time online than watching TV.
  • Teen sites or through email
  • obtain consumer feedback while promoting products.
  • 2/3 of teens have either researched or purchased products online.

street or lifestyle marketing.

  • involves making a product a “natural” part of teens’ lifestyles
  • The goal is to reach teens where they “hang out” – at concerts, coffee shops, arcades, and other gathering spots.
  • Specific tactics include hanging posters, giving away CDs or T-shirts, distributing flyers or postcards with the marketing message, generating word of mouth.
university age children
University-age Children
  • About 15 million in USA
  • Market estimated between $35-60 billion and $200 billion
  • Advertisers Spend $100 Million a Year to Influence Them
  • Usually in process of forming brand preferences and shopping habits - time to build a relationship with this segment.
  • one of the most difficult segments to reach.

How would you characterize University students in terms of their:

      • Needs
      • Values
      • Lifestyles
      • Attitudes
      • Interests

What are the implications of these things for the marketing mix?

one in four students (24%) said they had purchased a product this year (2006) specifically because it was socially conscious



  • Apparel items, particularly hooded sweatshirts, and brightly colored student supplies are the leading product categories at campus stores
  • "comfort items" such as stuffed animals, candles/incense, music, gifts, snacks/beverages and health and beauty products are also important products
  • computer hardware and software, home electronics, jewelry, clothing and concert, theater or event tickets.
  • Travel


  • Direct mail won't work. University students usually don't stay in any one place for more than a year.
  • University students listen to the radio and watch TV less than any other segment of the population
  • ads in the college magazines or newspapers on the bulletin boards around campus will work better.
  • Best bet will be Internet and on-line services..
  • Advertising to this age group has typically been very frivolous, emphasizing things like personal freedom and expression

John Belushi (12)

  • Bill Clinton (3)
  • Michael Jordan (9)
  • Spike Lee (39)
  • Madonna (14)
  • Roseanne (10)
  • Clarence Thomas (46)
  • Howard Stern (44)
  • Ben Cohen (16)
  • Bill Gates (7)
  • Bruce Springstein (18)
  • Steven Jobs (2)
  • Hilary Clinton (24)
  • Oprah Winfrey (5)
  • Steven Spielberg (1)
  • Karen Silkwood (40)
  • Oliver Stone (33)
  • Michael Milken (4)
  • O. J. Simpson (35
  • Rush Limbaugh (11)
  • Michael Jackson (42)
  • Stephen King (30)
  • David Letterman (29)
  • Mike Ovitz (17)

Baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964 (43-61 yrs old) have had an important impact on consumer culture? Why?

  • They created a revolution in style, politics, and consumer attitudes
  • Grew up with Television
  • Power in Numbers
  • The most affluent section of the population, controlling over $7 trillion in wealth
  • Spend the most on housing, cars, and entertainment.
  • Spend most of any age on food, apparel, and retirement programs

Baby Boomers (43-63) 80 million strongInfluences On This Group

  • Booming birthrate
  • The Beatles
  • TV
  • Expansion of suburbia
  • Vietnam
  • Civil rights movement
  • Women’s rights
  • Sex, drugs & rock ‘n’ roll
  • Kennedy assassination

Jan 2006


Impact for Marketing

  • Winding down : leisure indulgence
  • Downsizing everything : minimalising
  • Make own decisions – think edge
  • Respect rank : professionalism
  • Steady relationships - loyalty
  • Need
      • relationship continuity
      • organising : options
      • safe familiar experiences
      • positive group identity

While their parents often took and held jobs for life, baby boomers are less inclined to do so.

  • Baby boomers are regarded as the Me Generation.
  • Many baby boomers grew up with television as a constant companion, teacher, baby-sitter, and friend.
  • Many baby boomers are idealists who see their mission as "changing the world." - concerned with social issues and causes.
  • Baby boomers married later, divorced more often, had children later, and often have families that live together only part of the time.
  • A marketer targeting a message to the baby boomer segment should bridge images of a rich past, positive images of today, and visions of what can be.

Baby Boomers – How to market to them

  • Nostalgia
    • Stay-at-home moms are fashionable again
  • Rise in the priority of family and family activities
  • Invented new forms of families
    • Divorce
    • Live-in lifestyles
    • His and her children
    • Same sex couples
  • Stress
    • Eliminate stress through simplification
    • Boom in personal services
    • Less welcoming of technology because it forces them to make more decisions

Baby Boomers – How to market to them

  • Control
    • Provide simplicity along with control
  • Demanding consumers – want the whole story…want data before they buy
  • Reinforce strong sense of self-reliance and individual superiority without a lot of effort and participation
  • Mass customization
  • Think of themselves as young
    • Consider age 79 as old
    • Will avoid products pitched to older consumers
    • Be subtle
  • Attracted to romance and adventure
  • Position brand as the choice of winners

Baby Boomers – How to market to them

  • No brand loyalty – brand names are no longer badges of success
  • Let them know they are getting a good deal
  • Many won’t retire
    • Will begin second careers
    • Retirement as work style, not lifestyle
    • Won’t have enough money to retire (saving rates are low)
    • Work-centered
    • Looking for meaning and fulfillment
  • Want products that keep them healthy and sustain energy and activity levels
  • Will remain dominant consumer group in marketplace for years to come
  • Will continue to expect to be center of attention

The Gray Market

  • The Gray Market includes people over age 65
  • 2nd fastest growing segment, only behind the Baby Boomers.
  • By 2010, one in every seven Canadians will be over 65.
  • Today there are more than 70 million Americans over the age of 50. By 2015 that number will grow to 108 million
  • This group is more diverse than any other market segment, spanning those at the peak of their careers, to active, independent seniors, to the elderly in need of care.
  • They control over 50% of all discretionary income and in USA spend $60 billion annually.

According to a 1997 Roper Starch poll:

  • one in three American adults is a grandparent
  • grandparents spent $505/year on their grandchildren in 1997 (up from $320 in 1992)
  • 55% of grandparents purchased a gift for a grandchild in thepast month
  • grandparents buy one of every four toys sold in the US.

Most older people lead more active, multidimensional lives than we assume.

  • Their economic health is good and getting better.
  • 80% own their own home.
  • 15% are now on-line and when they do go on line spend more time than kids
  • Their three favorite things to do online – in order
  • Chat with friends
  • Get information

–especially news and weather

  • Buy products

What values motivate the Gray market?

  • Autonomy
  • Altruism
  • Connectedness
  • Personal Growth

Marketing to the Mature Market

  • Will not buy products that show negative views of older people
  • Not influenced as easily by image-oriented ads
  • May need to adjust packaging to suit their changing physical needs:
    • Easy open packages
    • Print size

What will happen when the boomers become the mature market?


Keep Language Simple

Use Clear, Bright Pictures

Guidelines for Effective Advertising to the Elderly

Use Action to Attract Attention

Speak Clearly, and Keep Word Count Low

Use Single Sales Message

Avoid Extraneous Stimuli