New study examines intergenerational influences on buying behavior


If your grandma always bought Heinz ketchup, it’s quite likely your mom did, too, and now so do you.p. That’s among the conclusions of a new study on how one generation influences the purchasing behavior of another. Published in the Journal of Marketing, the study was coauthored by Elizabeth S. Moore and William L. Wilkie from the University of Notre Dame and Richard J. Lutz from the University of Florida.p. The two-part study specifically examined the affect of intergenerational (IG) influence on the purchase of a wide array of commonly used consumer packaged goods, including catsup, laundry detergent, soup, facial tissue and 20 other products. In the first part of the study, the authors surveyed mothers and daughters to isolate and quantify IG influences. Part two is a set of in-depth interviews (conducted both at home and in-store) that provides greater perspective on the nature of IG influence as perceived by young adult women.p. The authors were especially interested in understanding the impact of IG influence on brand equity and report that it is “persistent and powerful across an array of consumer packaged goods.” They add that, overall, these influences are a “real marketplace phenomenon and a factor that merits much closer attention from marketing strategists who are interested in brand equity issues.”p. Among the study’s findings:p. ? Across all product categories, a substantial number of daughters were both aware of the particular brands used by their mothers and were likely to use the brands themselves. Specifically, Newman’s Own spaghetti sauce and Campbell’s soups scored brand preference matches of 86 percent and 84 percent, respectively, in their sample. Other brands in which a high percentage of mothers and daughters reported the same brand preference were Heinz ketchup, Kleenex facial tissue, Peter Pan peanut butter, Mueller pasta, Dawn detergent and Crest toothpaste.p. ? Interestingly, in only two of the 24 product categories did no brand emerge as strongly benefiting from an IG influence. At the same time, most IG matches occurred for only a few brands within a category ? indicating that these brand level effects are clearly selective. While some brands draw strong IG support, other brands, though perhaps equally well-known, do not.p. ? Many of the 24 products tested in the study are used in virtually all American households. However, in nine of the categories ? including frozen juice, canned vegetables, tuna, and coffee ? the authors found non-users accounted for a significant percentage of the sample. Through closer examination of the product use of paired mothers and daughters, they found that IG influences help determine the purchase or non-purchase of six of the nine products. This means that the size and scope of some markets of the future are being partially determined today, as children avoid certain products while pursuing others.p. ? The level of IG influence is affected by several marketplace characteristics, including the dominance in a product category by a single brand (such as Campbell’s or Heinz), the fragmentation of the market within a particular category, and the use or non-use of a product. Findings from the in-depth interviews shed more light on the nature of IG from the young adults’ perspective as well as how it is sustained or disrupted as in-store shopping proceeds. Moore is an assistant professor of marketing at Notre Dame who also studies the effects of advertising on children, consumer decision-making within families and the impact of marketing on society. Wilkie holds the Nathe Chair in Marketing at Notre Dame. One of the most frequently published and cited authors in the field, he specializes in consumer behavior, public policy and advertising. Lutz is a professor of marketing at Florida.

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