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Consumer Behavior in Later Life: Current Knowledge, Issues, and New Directions for Research


  • The author thanks Glen H. Elder Jr., Florian Kohlbacher, Euhun Lee, Anil Mathur, Rajan Nataraajan, Simone Pettigrew, Sharon Sullivan, Jack Wei, and the staff of the Broenfenbrenner Life Course Center, Cornell University for their assistance in preparing this manuscript.

Correspondence regarding this article should be sent to: George P. Moschis, Alfred Bernhardt Research Professor of Marketing and Director, Center for Mature Consumer Studies, Georgia State University, University Plaza, Atlanta, Georgia 30303.


The aging of the Earth's populations has been creating increasing interest in older consumers among researchers, marketers, and policymakers. Yet previous research efforts have produced little knowledge to help explain consumer behavior in later life. The main reason for this limited knowledge may be a lack of theoretical and methodological bases for studying the consumption patterns of older generations. This article advocates the value of emergent paradigms and methods that are becoming increasingly popular in behavioral sciences and hold promise for studying the consumer behavior of older adults. It particularly recommends approaches that emphasize the importance of examining consumers in the context of the time and life circumstances in which they are embedded, and it builds a research agenda to help address contemporary research issues and guide further research.

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