How life events impact purchase behaviour

While we largely dismiss the notion that age itself determines purchase behaviour, we have often argued that life events have considerable impact on buying decisions.

Professor George Moschis of Georgia State University has researched and written about this in his books and numerous articles but media agency ZenithOptimedia has released research supporting the theory. We also cover the subject in our book, Marketing to the Ageing Consumer.

They asked 1,121 consumers two questions. First, which of nine life events had they undergone in the last year and second, had they tried a new brand in any of eight categories.bookbig-ageing-consumer

The results were striking. In every category people were more likely to have tried new brands if they had undergone a life event. For all product categories, bar one, the probability of trying new brands increased by at least 75% after a life event. And in over half the categories the trialling of new brands doubled.

This article also references other research conducted by the UK Department of Transport. They monitored more than 40,000 households for a year and cross-referenced life events with car purchasing. They found that consumers who just ‘got married’, were four times more likely to change cars than the population as a whole. Moving house and getting a new job also significantly increased the chance of purchasing a car.

In ageing terms we also think of ‘death of a spouse’, ‘critical illness’ and ‘retirement’ as being critical life events that strongly impact purchase – negatively and positively.