Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Journal of Marketing Management
For a Special Issue on
Ageing Consumers: Reconceptualising Perceptions of Old Age in Marketing and Management
20 January 2025
Ageing Consumers: Reconceptualising Perceptions of Old Age in Marketing and Management
Many assumptions are made about older people – that they are lonely, unwell, frail, vulnerable, and possess limited capacities – which become embedded within society, relationships, and markets. These stereotypes are dangerous as they shape how older people view themselves and how others view them, including ageist interactions from younger people (Nelson, 2005). The assumptions stem from overlooking older people that do not have to bear any of these characteristics and challenges alongside a lack of knowledge about an often-dismissed generation (Schau et al., 2009). Older people, for example, are challenging stereotypical perceptions of old age by are taking up graffiti, becoming influencers, adopting new technologies, and reclaiming grounds in the dating arena. Nevertheless, the public debate continues to routinely portray ageing consumers as a marginalised population segment characterised by ailments and creating issues and problems for society.
Particularly in marketing, older people are invisible in advertisements through under-representation, which creates stereotypes that feed into stigmatisation (e.g. the anti-ageing industry; Rosenthal et al., 2021). Although there are positive stereotypes of older people portrayed in media as being kind, wiser, more affluent, and good grandparents, older consumers do not always wish to be perceived as so (Eisend, 2022; Rosenthal et al., 2021). Other assumptions revolve around older consumers not using digital technologies, resulting in an internalisation of these expectations and subsequent reductions in technology consumption, alongside technology developers ignoring older peoples’ capabilities and needs as consumers (Bae et al., 2021; Nunan & Di Domenico, 2019). Moreover, stereotyping can shape the way that service and sales staff interact with older consumers by being patronising and condescending, which creates a rejection of sales/service interactions and avoidance of certain consumption behaviours (Chéron et al., 2021; Westberg et al., 2021).
Marketing literature historically marginalises older consumers through perpetuating negative stereotypes in theory development, such as “empty nesters” and “solitary survivor” in the Family Life Cycle Model (Wells & Gubar, 1966), creating negative perceptions of being isolated and lonely in old age (Barnhart & Peñaloza, 2013). There is a fledgling stream of research that challenges these assumptions. For instance, Niemelä-Nyrhinen (2007) establishes that older consumer stereotypes are misleading as they do not necessarily exhibit anxiousness or reluctance to adopt new technology, but it depends on generational usage experiences. Consequently, there are calls for more diversity in research on ageing consumers, however, this is yet to transcend into the marketing discipline (LeBarge & Pyle, 2020).
This special issue invites papers that break these stereotypes by leveraging present or new theories and/or possibly altering methodological considerations to challenge how academics investigate empirical contexts of old age and ageing through marketing, consumption, and management perspectives. As ageing stereotypes are intertwined throughout marketing theory development, it is important to extend current understanding by enabling lenses that do not inflict these assumptions, such as paradox theory (e.g. Wilson-Nash & Tinson, 2022) and assemblage perspectives (e.g. Schneider-Kamp & Askegaard, 2022). For instance, authors could adopt intersectionality to include alternative considerations that are challenging (or potentially empowering) and depict older people as more than just their age. Furthermore, calling on approaches from gerontology, cross-cultural perspectives and divergences in lifestyle trajectories (Hung et al., 2010; Lamb, 2014; Stephens et al., 2020) could decolonise knowledge and enhance the reconceptualisation of ageing consumers. Papers submitted to this special issue should be mindful of the terminology used when describing “older consumers” (or its many variants), and how these terms perpetuate and even introduce stereotypes in the literature. We therefore call for papers that are attentive to the heterogeneity of older consumers’ stages of life and do not portray them as a monolith in research outputs (Franco, 2023).
We also invite papers that contribute to reshaping marketing and management research on ageing consumers through methodological considerations. If stereotypes are held by researchers when conducting data collection, this can risk reifying the assumptions with participants through the questions asked and activities undertaken, which in turn can influence the data analysis and results (Cecchini, 2019). Authors therefore need to develop methodologies that are designed for older participants but do not immediately assume that everyone is vulnerable. For instance, it is important to develop strategies such as how to exit research after prolonged periods of observation (Franco & Yang, 2021) but without holding pre-determined assumptions, further breeding stereotyping, and condescending older participants.
List of sample topics
We welcome conceptual, methodological, and empirical (qualitative or quantitative) contributions grounded in a range of perspectives that offer insights into the central topic of this Special Issue. These topics include, but are not limited to:
- Novel definitions and/or frameworks for ageing consumers and the multi-dimensionality of ageing.
- Critical appraisal of current literature on ageing consumers in the marketplace.
- Considerations of divergences in the lifestyle trajectories of ageing consumers.
- Exploring the “heterogeneity” and lived experiences of older consumers.
- Contrasting lived experiences between different generations of consumers.
- The expansion of focus from biomedical functioning to individual meaning-making.
- The meaning of being an ageing consumer in different cultures.
- Macro-perspectives on ageing.
- Exploring under-researched and ‘lighter’ sides to ageing such as creativity, dating, sexuality, and lifestyle.
- Breaking long established stereotypes relating to older people and their relationship with technology.
- Investigating the ageism embedded within services.
- Using the customer journey/customer experience to understand intricacies in consumption behaviour.
- Intersectional perspectives on ageing (e.g., gender, race, class etc.)
- Explorations of older people’s involvement in consumption activities typically associated with younger people (e.g., “Graffiti Grandmas”, “Grey-Pop Senior Influencers”)
- Investigations of marketing management approaches to older consumer markets by practitioners.
The full Call for Papers including references can be found at the JMM blog site: https://www.jmmnews.com/ageing-consumers/
Authors should submit manuscripts of between 8,000–10,000 words (excluding tables, references, captions, footnotes and endnotes). All submissions must strictly follow the guidelines for the Journal of Marketing Management. Please note the requirements to include a Summary Statement of Contribution, and to place figures and tables at their correct location within the text. Please also read the following guidelines prior to submitting your manuscript:
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Manuscripts should be submitted online using the T&F Submission Portal for Journal of Marketing Management. Authors should prepare and upload two versions of their manuscript (only use alpha-numeric characters or underscores in the filename). One should be a complete text, while in the second all document information identifying the author should be removed from the files to allow them to be sent anonymously to referees.
When uploading files authors will be able to define the non-anonymous version as “Manuscript - with author details”, and the anonymous version as “Manuscript - Anonymous”. To submit your manuscript to the Special Issue choose “Research Article” from the Manuscript Type list in the Submission Portal. On the next screen (Manuscript Details), answer ‘yes’ to the question ‘Are you submitting your paper for a specific special issue or article collection?’. A drop down menu will then appear and you should select the Special Issue Title from this list.