Influence of Age on Buyer Behaviour

By Yashu Bansal, Chanakya National Law University, Patna

Editor’s Note: The present study analyses the effect of age on the behaviour of consumers. It discusses what factors affect the choices and purchasing decisions of buyers of different age groups, and how they are different from each other.”

Age And Buyer Behaviour

Age is experience. Age is the time period a person or thing has survived till date. Age is a sign of existence. It is usually said that age brings wisdom. Age brings knowledge. However, in this report, we will consider every phase of life to be important since every stage of life is equally important. Every age has its own essence. Be it a 4 year old child or a 30 year old person, it always interesting to observe their behaviour. Behaviour is the way one conducts himself. Behaviour is the way one behaves. One’s behaviour is influenced by several factors like age, society, culture, tradition and others. All these various factors bring about a kind of behaviour in an individual. For instance, a 5 year old boy may have a shy kind of behaviour but she may grow up to be bold in his 20’s. A girl froma village may wear less of skirts than a girl from the metropolitan cities. An earning woman may buy more independently than a house maker. A man’s buying process is shorter than a woman’s. thus we can see how many factors determine a buyer’s behaviour.

Age is a very important factor when it comes to influencing behaviour. Every age has its own state of mind, its own perception and its own characteristics. This report will relate age and buyer behaviour. Buyer behaviour is the way a buyer behaves. A buyer may or may not be a consumer but his behaviour decides it all. The way a buyer chooses his marketing place, his product, the benefits, the post-purchasing services and everything else is the behaviour of the buyer.

Shakespeare has wisely divided the ages of man into seven stages, the infant, the whining school boy, the lover, a soldier, the justice, the lean slippered pantaloons and the last as second childishness which is ‘sans everything’ in his piece of art, “All The World’s A Stage”. He has showed it very well that every age has its own characteristics. In every age, people have a different way of thinking. A child is more fickle minded than an adult. An adult buys faster than a child. An old man buys after a lot of observation than an adult and so on. Therefore, this report will show the factors influencing behaviour in different stages of life and the decision in buying process.

Need Recognition

Need is necessity. There is a very slight line of difference between need and want. Needs describe basic human requirements such as food, air, water, clothing and shelter. People also have strong needs for recreation, education, and entertainment. These needs become wants when they are directed to specific objects that might satisfy the need. A person needs food but wants a hamburger and a soft drink. [i]

Need recognition is the basic step in the buying process. Need recognition is asking to oneself, “Do I really need this?”. The need for a good may be spontaneous or pre built. It may or may not be a real necessity and thus recognizing it is a challenge. A 10 year old boy may crave for a toy on seeing it in the supermarket. It may not be his need but it fits into the bill. A teenage girl may just need a tee-shirt because it was referred to her by her group of friends. The society a person lives in affects the buyer behaviour to a great extent. A housewife prepares a list of items to be bought and hardly any of her purchases are spontaneous. An old man may not be requiring a computer screen but will buy a laptop for the sake of learning technology at his age.

Every age has a different list of needs. It depends on an individual’s age to decide whether a product is a need or not. This process of need recognition is greatly influenced by the age factor of the buyers.

Being Aware

Being aware means being informed. It is having all the required knowledge. A buyer should always be aware of what he wants, what he buys and everything else about his decision to buy.

In today’s world, there are several ways a buyer gets to know about his product. It may be in the form of media like internet, newspaper, television or magazines or sources like word of mouth and reference. It all depends on how comfortable a buyer is with his sources of information. An old man may buy a new radio on seeing an advertisement in the paper whereas a teenager may see a dress on online shopping stops. Being completely aware of what a person is buying is the buyer’s duty, says the “ Caveat Emptor”. A child is hardly aware of the product he/she wants to buys. It is usually the appearance which attracts the small age. The teenage is the period in which the buyer usually prefers buying online. Thus, heavy discounts and coupons attract them. Online marketing plays an important role in this age. Then comes an adult age when an individual buys very thoughtfully. This is the time when the value of money is realized and thus more reliable and short ways of getting information and purchasing products are used. The old age then is the period when even the individual is aware of all marketing methods, information and knowledge of sound buying and trusts specific brands only.

The marketers have to set their targets very precisely for all the different age groups since we see that age is very important in deciding the source of information for buying goods and services and being aware to some extent is a necessity before a buyer buys.

Choosing The Best

Today, there is a market in which there are hundreds of brands of toothbrush, thousands of brands of clothes and many brands of food. There is hardly a sphere in which the buyer has no choice. This selection requires knowledge, wisdom and experience. It can be done in many different ways.

Age plays a significant role here as well. A child usually chooses the best product either by seeing them all or on advice of elders. Whereas the teenage group considers taking opinions from the group of people they are a part of or by seeing a beneficiary deal. The adult people are the ones who prefer being brand loyal and choose their specific brands out of their own preferences. The best can be chosen only after examining many brands, considering many opinions, being completely aware and taking sufficient time.

An eight-year old boy may not take many opinions before buying a product. He hardly wastes time seeing options but chooses the one which attracts the eyes the most. The age doesn’t suggest him evaluating the quality and prices of similar goods of different brands and types. The child scarcely has a budget and there are very little conditions to be kept in mind before buying the product. A stroll in the super market with the parents may end up filling their toy store with toys which please their eyes. Appearance is a very important factor for the buyers of this age.

A 17 year old teenager will most probably like to buy something after checking as many brands as possible, asking all the previous buyers and their experiences, comparing the prices of all of them and spending a lot of time sitting in front of the screen. There is the risk taking capacity in people of this age. Heavy discounts, coupons, free shipping and home delivery, vouches and such “ delights” attracts the buyers of this age. This is the age when the budget is a little tight and buying has to be done judiciously.

The next age group can be the adult class in which there are different types of buyers. This age group usually buys what it needs. There is a constraint of time and a lack of interest in evaluating. The people are brand loyal and spend money wisely on goods only after experiencing the products themselves and availing offers for regular customers. Their decisions are faster in comparison to those of the teenage individuals. A working man may take five minutes to buy a watch whereas a teenager may take a week or more. This age individual will directly go to a store he usually visits, buy a watch, pay and leave whereas the younger browses for all the brands, designs, prices and offers. The shopping habits of people of this age are greatly influenced by time, money and trust.

Older people, who perceive their time horizon as limited, place greater emphasis on emotionally meaningful goals- goals related to feelings, such as balancing emotional states than on knowledge-related goals- goals related to new information acquisitions. [ii] Lack of willingness to evaluate hundreds of brands and physical incapability makes the buyers of this age group very fast in deciding their products. As mentioned, they are strongly driven by an emotional force which helps them choosing their products and services. No matter how many ice cream brands, sundaes and products come up, an old man will stick to eating a ‘koolfi’ if that pleases his taste and mind.

We thus see how largely the age factor influences buyer behaviour in choosing the required product amongst the gigantic market. Age is very important to let a person decide the way he/she wants to buy a product. The age effects the physical capabilities, wisdom, experience, spending capability and these in turn affect the buyer behaviour.

Purchase Decision

This is rather the most important part in the buying process in today’s world. However much a buyer recognizes the needs, collects information or chooses the best from the alternatives, the entire process gets wasted without this step. After evaluating the goods, there are three possibilities, a buyer decides from where to buy, when to buy and whether to buy or not. [iii]

A child usually doesn’t think much about where to buy his products from or when to buy. The child is usually directed by his family about his decision of from where to buy and when. A child doesn’t necessarily buy goods for his needs. The products which please him/her are purchased and thus, the larger share of responsibility of purchasing lies on the family.

A teenager and the adult have total discretion to decide for their purchases by themselves. Be it the shopping destination, the time to purchase, the method of payment or whether to buy or not. The entire process is completed by them on their own and their age affects their purchase decisions a lot.

Lastly, the older society individuals are a little dependent on their families again for their purchase decisions due to lack of being physically and economically independent. Their needs are fulfilled by the way it is found suitable by the people around them.

Therefore, we can clearly see that age effects the purchase decision as well. This important step in the buying process is greatly influenced by the age o the buyers.

Post Purchase Behaviour

This is the end step after the task of purchasing. It is basically the behaviour of a buyer after buying a product. It may be a comparison between other brands and the bought product or it may be positive or negative feedback.

The kids of lower ages usually show their satisfaction by getting the bought product purchased repeatedly. They may or may not compare but it is their family members who always try to get the best every time and even spread their feedbacks. The teenage is the group of individuals which responds to the purchase very well. They fill the surveys, set comparisons between products used, decide their next purchase and spread their experience as much as possible. The adult on the other hand may not respond much to the buying experience but their satisfaction is showed by their loyalty towards a brand or switching over to something else. The old people show their satisfaction by repeated purchasing and spread of the word of mouth. We can thus see how the age influences the post behaviour decisions.

Conclusion

Age is experience. Age is the time period a person or thing has survived till date. Age is a sign of existence. It is usually said that age brings wisdom. Age brings knowledge. Be it a 4 year old child or a 30 year old person, it always interesting to observe their behaviour. Behaviour is the way one conducts himself. Behaviour is the way one behaves. One’s behaviour is influenced by several factors like age, society, culture, tradition and others. All these various factors bring about a kind of behaviour in an individual.

Need is necessity. There is a very slight line of difference between need and want. Needs describe basic human requirements such as food, air, water, clothing and shelter. People also have strong needs for recreation, education, and entertainment. These needs become wants when they are directed to specific objects that might satisfy the need. A person needs food but wants a hamburger and a soft drink. [iv]

Need recognition is the basic step in the buying process. Need recognition is asking to oneself, “Do I really need this?”. The need for a good may be spontaneous or pre built. It may or may not be a real necessity and thus recognizing it is a challenge. Being aware means being informed. It is having all the required knowledge. A buyer should always be aware of what he wants, what he buys and everything else about his decision to buy. This is rather the most important part in the buying process in today’s world. However much a buyer recognizes the needs, collects information or chooses the best from the alternatives, the entire process gets wasted without this step. After evaluating the goods, there are three possibilities, a buyer decides from where to buy, when to buy and whether to buy or not. This is the end step which is after the task of purchasing. It is basically the behaviour of a buyer after buying a product. It may be a comparison between other brands and the bought product or it may be positive or negative feedback.

Edited by Kudrat Agrawal

[i] http://dl.ueb.edu.vn/bitstream/1247/2250/1/Marketing_Management_-_Millenium_Edition.pdf

[ii]http://webuser.bus.umich.edu/yoonc/research/Papers/Yoon_Cole_2008_Aging_and_Consumer_Behavior_HCP.pdf

[iii] http://www-rohan.sdsu.edu/~renglish/370/notes/chapt05/

[iv] http://dl.ueb.edu.vn/bitstream/1247/2250/1/Marketing_Management_-_Millenium_Edition.pdf

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