Is marketing keeping one step ahead of the changing consumer?

Date of publication: June 15, 1989


Today, there is a parallel demographic change occurring in Canada and the United States which, for many decades to come, will have major implications for the marketing of consumer products in these two countries. The age structures of the Canadian and U.S. populations are changing in an identical manner to produce widely varying growth rates in different age groups. New information related to this age trend can be used in marketing planning, product development, and demand forecasting for a combined market that today numbers 266 million consumers. A constant challenge facing today's businesses is predicting and planning for the demands of tomorrow's consumers. The age trend offers marketers a long-range, strategic planning tool to prepare for what will be demanded and will have to be produced five, 10 or 20 years from now. To apply this tool, marketers must perform three tasks: 1) Conduct consumer surveys on product ownership priorities to learn what types of goods are demanded by consumers in different stages of life; 2) Estimate the future demand for these products and services by considering population projections for different age groups; 3) Refine these estimates by assessing the probable impact of changes in consumer values, as indicated by periodic value surveys. Using the findings from a recent consumer survey in Canada and secondary data on personal value changes in the U.S., the paper demonstrates this three-step strategic planning approach which allows marketers to continually stay ahead of the changing consumer. The survey focused on three age groups having different population growth projections over the next 20 years: 25-43, 44-60, and 61 and up.

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