Age and stage in the life cycle


People buy different goods and services over a lifetime. Taste in food, clothes, furniture, and recreation is often is often age related. Consumption is also shaped by the family life cycle and the number, age, and gender of people in the household at any point in time. American households are increasingly fragmented — the traditional family of four with a husband, wife and two kids makes up a much smaller percentage of total households than it once did. In addition, psychological life-cycle stages may matter. Adults experience certain “passagesâ€? or “transformationsâ€? as they go through life.

Marketers should also consider critical life events or transitions—marriage, childbirth, illness, relocation, divorce, career change, widowhood as giving rise to new needs. These should alert service providers — banks, lawyers, and marriage, employment, and bereavement counselors to ways they can help.

Bank of America (BOA) is using “event-based triggers� to help its premier customers. BOA, using NCR’s “Relationship Optimizer� solutions, monitors large deposits, withdrawals, insufficient funds, and other events that deviate from a customer’s normal behavior. Client managers are alerted to these events and phone the client to see if they can be of any assistance. For example, if a client has withdrawn a large sum of money to buy a home, the client manager offers to help the client find the best mortgage.

Occupation and economic circumstances

Occupation also influences consumption patterns. A blue collar worker will buy work clothes, work shoes, and lunchboxes. A company president will buy dress suits, air travel, and country club memberships. Marketers try to identify the occupational groups that have above average interest in their products and services. A company can even tailor its products for certain occupational groups. Computer software companies, for example, design different product for brand managers, engineers, lawyers, and physicians.

Product choice is greatly affected by economic circumstances such as disposable income (level, stability, and time pattern), savings and assets (including the percentage that is liquid), debts, borrowing power, and attitudes toward spending and saving. Luxury goods makers are Gucci, Prada, and Burberry can be vulnerable to an economic downturn. If economic indicators point to recession, marketers can take steps to redesign, reposition, and revise the price of their products or introduce or increase the emphasis on discount brands so that they can continue to offer value to target customers.

Roles and Statuses

A person participates in many groups— family, clubs, and organization. The person’s in each group can be defined in terms of role and status. A role consists of the activities a person is expected to perform. Each role carries a status. A senior vice president of marketing has more status than a sales manager, and a sales manager has more status than an office clerk. People choose products that reflect and communicate their role and actual or desired status in society. Company presidents often drive Mercedes, wear expensive suits, and drink expensive wines. Marketers must be aware of the status symbol potential of products and brands.