One of the widely debated issues in developing marketing programs that target certain age groups is how much consumers change over time. Some marketers maintain that age differences are critical and that the needs and wants of a 25-year-old in 2002 are not that different from those of a 25-year-old in 1972. Others dispute that contention and argue that cohort and generational effects are critical and that marketing programs must therefore suit the times.

Take a position and support it: Age differences are fundamentally more important than cohort effects versus cohort effects can dominate age differences.

Introduction

Market research has become a fundamental factor in determining the marketing strategies to sell a product or service on national or international level. The job of marketing has become really important and demanding in the current competitive environment. Senior management are always demanding evidence from the marketing staff to justify their expenditure on the marketing efforts (Kotler & Keller, 2012, p.114). One of the factors that marketers use as an indicator when targeting a market is the demographic factor “age”. Research has indicated that age I an important consideration when devising a strategy to market a service or product (McKenna, 1993). In the following discussion, I would like to shed some light on comparing the age factor to what we call generation gap in the context of market research and devising marketing strategies.

Is Consumer Behavior More of a Function of a Person’s Age or Generation?

In my opinion both age and generation of a consumer are valid points to assess their purchasing behavior. But over here the question is not if they are important or not. The question is which is more important and relevant. When I look at my personal behavior and what I observe around me, I think that generation and cohort effects are more critical than age differences at a specific time. If we take the example of a 25 years old at the present time and compare it to someone of the same ager 40 years age, we can easily conclude that the marketing decisions both would have been making will be quite different and influenced by different factors. The needs of different age groups change with changing time. 40 year ago a 25 years old person would have been more influenced by the opinion of family and friends than they are now. That person would be buying stuff to go outdoors while the youngsters now a days buy mobiles, computer and different software applications with their savings. Marketers have totally different medium to attract people from different age groups compared to past. Now internet has become one of the primary source of advertising which didn’t exist if we go a few decades back.

I can easily conclude that though age difference is an important in marketing, understanding generation gap is more important. More research is needed in this regard in my opinion.