Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Publications Database

Consumer Decision-Making of Older People: A 45-Year Review

Hettich, Dominik
Hattula, Stefan
Volume: 58
Number: 6
Pages: 349 - 368
Link External Source: Online Version
Year: 2018
Keywords: Older consumer decision-making, Older consumer behavior, Structured review

Background and Objectives

Aging is one of the key future challenges for global life. Of particular interest is the consumption-related decision-making of older people, as its better understanding would enable the effective influence of behavior, which would help to secure the economic well-being and ensure a better quality of life for this population. This article explores the respective literature and identifies gaps for future research.

Research Design and Methods

We conducted a holistic review of peer-reviewed literature that examined the decision-making of older consumers. Using a structured approach based on the consumer decision process model, we present the findings of 45 years of research (a total of 42 articles) and identify further research areas.


The review reveals that the literature on older consumers’ decision-making is fragmented, and that the findings are mixed. In particular, results on the role of emotions are controversial. While emotions have been shown to be better controlled by older individuals, emotions are also found to be highly influential in commercial advertisements. Similarly, the literature contains a lively debate on the relevance of price, service and store quality, and provider choice.

Discussion and Implications

These results call for a more holistic view of the decision-making of older consumers, and the review highlights numerous opportunities for future research. For instance, little is known about how older consumers deal with need recognition and the reasons they search for particular information. Moreover, understanding is lacking with respect to online purchase and feedback behavior.