How can I conduct a secondary data collection to investigate recent aging trends in the United States? What trends are currently taking place? How has the study of consumer behavior changed over the years? What could a marketing specialist do with this information?

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Secondary data is data that has already been gathered by researchers and published in resources. In contrast, primary data is data we collect ourselves through our own research studies. We can find secondary data by locating censuses or technical reports published on government department and organization websites or in databases....

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Secondary data is data that has already been gathered by researchers and published in resources. In contrast, primary data is data we collect ourselves through our own research studies. We can find secondary data by locating censuses or technical reports published on government department and organization websites or in databases. We can also find secondary data in reference books, trade journals, literature review articles, and scholarly articles published in peer-reviewed journals; such scholarly articles report results of studies other scholars have already conducted. Beyond government and organization websites, such resources can be found in research institutions, university libraries, and university library search engines and databases ("Tips for Collecting, Reviewing, and Analyzing Secondary Data," PQDL: Program Quality Digital Library).

Secondary data on elderly consumer trends is extremely useful for marketing research since the market is guided by consumer trends, and the elderly make up 11% of the total US population. In addition, "The elderly are not poor," as stated by Charles Schewe in his own research article ("Buying and Consumer Behavior of the Elderly Findings From Behavioral Research," Advances in Consumer Research). Only 6% of the elderly population can be considered poor; the majority of the elderly have incomes below 7% of the national income average. Therefore, very lucrative niches can be created based on the consumer interests of the elderly (Schewe).

Some things we know about the consumer trends of the elderly are that they prefer leisurely activities; therefore, they invest a lot of their time and money in the travel and entertainment industries (Schewe). The AARP reports seeing a steady increase in elderly travelers. As the elderly population increases, so does the number of elderly travelers. By 2009, 12% of all trips taken in the US were taken by people 65 years or older, and the total number of trips taken was 45.5 billion ("How the Travel Patterns of Older Adults Are Changing," AARP Public Policy Institute).

Other elderly consumer trends valuable to the research marketer concern preferences for generic brands, brand loyalty, store loyalty, and needs for specialty goods and services. A Progressive Grocer study conducted in Baltimore found that 71% of the elderly ranked "generic items as good as other brands," and 70% ranked them as being of "better value" than name brands (as cited in Schewe). More research needs to be conducted on the consumer trends of the elderly. Currently, one of the most recent studies we have on brand loyalty was conducted by Jeffrey Towle and Claude Martin in 1976, who found that only 8.4% were brand loyal, leaving tons of room open for marketers to develop new brands of interest to the elderly (as cited in Schewe). Similarly, a study conducted by Progressive Grocer in 1979 found that 80% of the elderly are store loyal, preferring to shop at "their 'regular' store" (as cited in Schewe). Betsy Gelb also reports interesting data in her 1978 study on the preference of the elderly for their own senior-citizen clothing departments and package carry-out services (as cited in Schewe).

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